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Reader offers criticisms

The Western Province
Roseville Alumni Chapter

http://www.kapsi-roseville-alumni.org/

13 June 2006

To:      SENATOR TOM TORLAKSON
State Capitol, Room 4032

ASSEMBLYMAN MARK LENO, Chair
Committee on Public Safety

From:    IVANN E. GREENE, Polemarch (President)

Re:  SENATE BILL #1454

Dear Senator Torlakson, and Assemblyrman Leno

First and foremost, the Roseville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. would like to express its support for your efforts and those of the family and friends of Matthew Carrington with regard to “Matt’s Law.”

In spite of our support for the basic intent of “Matt’s Law,” it must be stated that the proposed language as it appears falls short in a number of areas.

First, direct input from Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLO’s) has been nil.  In spite of this apparent oversight the Roseville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. offers our comments herein.

Second, the proposed language provides a “piecemeal” approach to a very pervasive issue.  As you may not know, psychological hazing remains a problem in our BGLO’s, AND much of the hazing that we have to deal with in Kappa Alpha Psi takes place AFTER the initiation when legitimate initiates are thereafter erroneously convinced that they must still be hazed to become members.  One reason hazing persists is that many fraternity and sorority members don’t consider new members to be true members unless they have been “properly inducted.”  And to many, “induction” includes hazing.

To get around (the) National Pan-Hellenic Council restrictions placed on the hazing of pledges — students seeking admission to

SENATOR TORLAKSON AND ASSEMBLYMAN LENO
Re:  SENATE BILL #1454
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Greek-life organizations — students are now being hazed after they have become members of the fraternity.

Therefore, it is our opinion that the current proposed language, although a giant step in the right direction, still falls short to address the overall problem of hazing.

Gentlemen, hazing is so ingrained in fraternity and sorority culture that it is not likely to go away without hard hitting legal provisions and sanctions.  White fraternities, the abuse tends to involve alcohol; in Black fraternities, it’s more physical abuse.  But there is overlapping of both types of abuse by all fraternities and both are serious problems for colleges.

Since hazing is pervasive and insidious, it is the responsibility of high schools, colleges/universities, and Alumni to promulgate that hazing is a felony in the state of California.

We must protect our students and monitoring mechanisms must be developed – mechanisms that allow the Interfraternity Council and the Pan-Hellenic Council to not only communicate, but work together to deter and eliminate any semblances of hazing.

My recent contact with my fraternity brother’s office, Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, was promising.  I had recommended that as chair of the CA Legislative Black Caucus, Assemlyman Dymally hold hearings by the Black, Latino and Asian Caucuses to shed more light on this matter.  I think it essential, and I am sure that you will both agree, that ANY further hearings include direct input from BGLO’s, and other ethnic fraternities and sororities.

To do our part to provide input, the Roseville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi suggests that the general intent of the bill have more specificity; and that the definition of hazing be re-defined in even more specific terms.  Our suggestions are as follows:

Preface to SB 1454

An act relating to hazing; specifying conduct that constitutes hazing at high schools, universities or colleges; creating new offenses of hazing at such a high school, college or university; providing a definition; providing for felony and misdemeanor offenses of hazing at such a high school, university or college; specifying the elements of each offense; providing criminal penalties; requiring the court to impose a hazing education course as a condition of sentence in certain circumstances; authorizing the court to impose a condition of drug or alcohol probation in certain circumstances; specifying circumstances that do not constitute a valid defense to a prosecution of hazing at such a high school; creating a rule of construction; amending relevant California Statute(s); revising
SENATOR TORLAKSON AND ASSEMBLYMAN LENO
Re:  SENATE BILL #1454
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a definition; providing for felony and misdemeanor offenses of hazing at postsecondary educational institutions; specifying the elements of each
offense; providing for criminal penalties; requiring the court to impose a hazing education course as a condition of sentence in certain circumstances; authorizing the court to impose a condition of drug or alcohol probation in certain circumstances; specifying circumstances that do not constitute a valid defense to a prosecution for the offense of hazing; creating a rule of construction; amending s relevant California Statute(s), to conform a cross reference; providing construction with respect to civil causes of action; providing applicability; providing an effective date.

Definition of “hazing” (Subsections should include)

(1)    As used in this section, “hazing” means any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student at a high school, university or college for purposes, including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a high school, university or college.  “Hazing” includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, paddling, caning, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct
that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student.  Hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.
(2)    A person commits hazing, a felony, punishable as provided in the
relevant California Statute(s), when he or she intentionally or recklessly commits any act of hazing as defined in subsection (1) upon another person who is a member of or an applicant to any type of student organization and the hazing results in or creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death of such other person.
(3)    As a condition of any sentence imposed pursuant to subsection (2) or
subsection (3), the court shall order the defendant to attend and complete a 4-hour hazing education course and may also impose a condition of drug or alcohol probation.
(4) It is not a defense to a charge of hazing that:
(a) Consent of the victim had been obtained;
(b) The conduct or activity that resulted in the death or injury of a
person was not part of an official organizational event or was
not otherwise sanctioned or approved by the organization; or
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Re:  SENATE BILL #1454
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(c) The conduct or activity that resulted in death or injury of the
person was not done as a condition of membership to an
organization.
(6) This section shall not be construed to preclude prosecution for a more
general offense resulting from the same criminal transaction or
episode.

Finally, I have apprised Attorney Dwayne M. Murray, the Senior Grand Vice Polemarch (president) of Kappa Alpha Psi with regard to the CA legislature’s actions regarding SB 1454.  With ample notice, he is willing appear before the Committee to testify should the need arise.  He resides in Baton Rouge, LA.

I have also notified Curtis Silvers, Jr., the Western Province Polemarch (Regional President), and Rhen C. Bass, the Western Province Chapter Advisors’ Chair.  They also are willing to appear and will require proper notification as well.

I urge you to consider the information provided herein.  I also implore you to hear from those who will offer information and a totally different perspective on this issue.

I remain sincerely,

//Signed 14 June 2006 //

________________________
Ivann E. Greene
Polemarch

Distribution:

Senator Tom Torlakson
SB 1454 Sponsor
State Capitol, Room 4032
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax (916) 445-2527

Assemblyman Mark Leno
Chairman, Committee on Public Safety
State Capitol, Room 4032
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax (916) 319-3745
(916) 319-2113

Contact Information

Dwayne M. Murray, Esq.
Senior Grand Vice Polemarch
225.925.1110 office
225.751.9124 home
dmm@murraylaw.net

Curtis R. Silvers, Jr.
Western Province Polemarch
626.794.8399 home
csilversjr@aol.com

Rhen C. Bass, Sr., CPA
Chairman, Western Province Chapter Advisors
818.676.3956 office
805.375.7708 home
rbass@thezenith.com
RhenBass@adelphia.net

Ivann E. Greene, Polemarch
Roseville Alumni Chapter
916.797.1515 home
916.797.1565 facsimile
ivann@surewest.net

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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