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Oregon tries to curb hazing: The Oregonian

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Legislature cracks down on student hazing
Posted by jmapes June 03, 2009 14:32PM

SALEM-A bill that toughens Oregon’s anti-hazing law and extends it to school athletic teams passed the House Wednesday on a unanimous vote and was sent to the governor for his signature.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, had pushed for Senate Bill 444, saying that he strongly disagreed with those who believed that hazing was a way to bond team members and build discipline.

The measure defines hazing to include activities that involve “physical brutality,” exposes someone to a risk of injury or threatens their physical health or safety. The bill specifically bans activities that, among other things, includes whipping, beating, sleep deprivation or exposing someone to the elements.

The bill also extends the ban on hazing to elementary and secondary schools as well as their sports teams. Most school districts already have anti-hazing bans, although Courtney said that athletic teams were often not covered.

Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, who carried the bill in the House, sought to assure legislators that it did not cover many traditional activities used in initiation rites.

“This bill isn’t about what has been referred to as a rite of passage,” said Sprenger. “This is about events that go too far.”

–Jeff Mapes; jeffmapes@news.oregonian.com

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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