Hazing is not new. It exists in many colleges, high schools, and other educational facilities. It includes abuse as part of “pre-initiation activities” for clubs, fraternities, sororities, athletic teams, social groups, etc. And until now, Arizona was one of only six states in the country that did not have a law that punished hazing.
Recently, however, the Arizona legislature passed, and Governor Ducey signed, HB 2322. That law, which goes into effect next month, adds new provisions to Chapter 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which contains the state’s criminal laws. Specifically, the law creates two new criminal charges applicable to organizations, such as the ones mentioned above, whose members are primarily students (or former students) at a college (or any other post-secondary educational institution) or a high school. Those charges are:
- Hazing. The abuse may take many forms, including sexual humiliation, physical or psychological tactics designed to lead to mental or physical injury, forced consumption of alcohol and other substances, restraint, other acts leading to a risk of injury which may also violate state and federal laws, and physical abuse, among other acts.
- Hazing Planning or Organizing. This includes agreeing with another person to engage in hazing, and one of them committing an “overt act” in furtherance of the hazing. We note that this sounds much like the definition of “conspiracy,” which also requires an agreement and an overt act.
Under the new law, hazing is a class 1 misdemeanor; hazing planning is a class 2 misdemeanor; and hazing resulting in death is a class 4 felony.
Why an Anti-Hazing Law is Necessary
For those who may not be aware, hazing is not an isolated or occasional problem. Statistics show that more than half of all college students participate in one form or another of campus hazing. Peer pressure contributes to the fact that in most cases – 95% – the incidents go unreported. And in about a quarter of the cases, coaches and student advisors did not report hazing activities even though they were aware of their occurrence.
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