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Tyler Cross SAE death and Texas hazing law (from UT Texas Arlington site)

Hazing

The 74th Texas Legislature modified the law concerning hazing which became effective May 30, 1995. Under the law, individuals or organizations engaging in hazing could be subject to fines and charged with criminal offenses (Section 51.936, Texas Education Code).

According to the law, a person can commit a hazing offense not only by engaging in a hazing activity, but also by soliciting, directing, encouraging, aiding or attempting to aid another in hazing; intentionally, knowingly or recklessly allowing hazing to occur; or by failing to report first hand information that a hazing incident is planned or has occurred in writing to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. The fact that a person consented to or acquiesced in a hazing activity is not a defense to prosecution for hazing under this law.

In an effort to encourage reporting of hazing incidents, the law grants immunity from civil or criminal liability to any person who reports a specific hazing event to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs; and immunizes that person from participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from that report. The penalty for failure to report is a fine of up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both. Penalties for other hazing offenses vary according to the severity of the injury, which results and range from $500 to $10,000 in fines and up to two years confinement.

The law defines hazing as any intentional, knowing or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are or include students at an educational institution. Hazing includes but is not limited to:

  • Any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity;
  • Any type of physical activity, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in small space, calisthenics, or other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk or harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
  • Any activity involving consumption of food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or which adversely affects the mental or physical health of the student;
  • Any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame, or humiliation, or that adversely affects the mental health or dignity of the student or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution, or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave the organization or the institution rather than submit to acts described in this subsection;
  • Any activity that induces, causes, or requires the students to perform a duty or tasks, which involved a violation of the Penal Code.

The University of Texas at Arlington regards hazing as a serious issue and is committed to the removal of any such practice. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs is prepared to assist any organization with a review of its activities to ensure they do not violate the hazing law.

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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