Hazing News

Matt’s Law: from Security on Campus (fwd)

California Hazing Law Vote Expected Tuesday

SOC Urges Californians To Call Their
Assemblymembers In Support Of Matt’s Law

Matt Carrington (pictured right) a 21 year old California State University-Chico student died in the basement of the Chi Tau fraternity house on February 2, 2005 during hideous acts of hazing. He was forced to drink from a five-gallon jug of water filled more than five-times and do calisthenics in the frigid sewage infested basement with cold fans blowing on him until this torture caused his brain to swell and heart failure from water intoxication.
Following his death Matt’s family learned that under California law hazing, even if it resulted in death, was only a misdemeanor and was a part of the Education Code rather than the Penal Code. Non-students, alumni of the unrecognized house, also attempted to argue that this law did not apply to them.

With the support of California state Senator Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), “Matt’s Law” (Senate Bill No. 1454) has been introduced to remedy these problems. Matt’s Law would move hazing law into the Penal Code and would increase penalties to a felony in the event of serious injuries or death. It would also give prosecutors clear authority to bring charges against anyone or any organization involved in the hazing, not just currently enrolled students.

Matt’s Law passed the state Senate, in a 34-2 vote on May 30th, but urgently needs your help to pass the state Assembly and actually become law. If you are a California resident please call or fax your member of the Assembly today and ask them to support and vote for SB 1454. The contact information for your legislative representatives can be accessed by going to and entering your ZIP Code in the “Find My District” search box located on the right hand side of the page.

The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill at their Tuesday morning meeting so time is of the essence. Please call or fax today in support of this life saving legislation!

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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