Arizona Daily Wildcat
Measure would require prevention policies at schools
PHOENIX - State lawmakers are making another attempt at prohibiting hazing at educational institutions, this time requiring schools to implement anti-hazing policies rather than criminalizing the behavior.
Rep. Steve May, R-Phoenix, proposed a strike-everything amendment to House Bill 2476 that would require hazing prevention policies to be in place at all Arizona public schools, including community colleges and universities.
The measure Tuesday passed the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, which May chairs, by a 10-0 vote.
Last month, the Senate Education Committee killed a bill that would have established hazing as a class 3 misdemeanor.
"Students come to college from a culture of hazing," May said, adding that the intent of the bill is to establish a definition of hazing in state statute in order to discourage the activity.
The bill defines hazing as "any intentional, knowing or reckless act" committed by a student in connection with initiation or membership in a group that causes or "contributes to a substantial risk of potential physical injury, mental harm or personal degradation."
The bill mandates that every public educational institution in the state shall "adopt, post and enforce a hazing prevention policy."
Alexis Hernandez, University of Arizona associate dean of students, said the university's code of conduct already prohibits hazing and prescribes sanctions for any violations.
"We comply with the basic tenets of that legislation," he said.
Hernandez said the Dean of Students' office has handled two hazing cases this academic year.
Furthermore, May added the bill specifies that consent on the part of a victim does not constitute a defense against hazing.
Rob Miller, alumni adviser for the Arizona State University Kappa Alpha fraternity, told the committee that hazing "ranges from innocent to sadistic" behavior and starts in high school.
"The culture of hazing in our society has become more visible," Miller said. "This is a necessary first step to stop the problem with hazing."
Miller added that high school students are becoming experienced in hazing activity, and when they join a group at a college or university, they are "creative and do it well."
Joseph McCallum, ASU finance sophomore and Kappa Alpha member, said hazing is seen as harmless, but it can escalate to serious crimes.
"The willingness of initiates to subject themselves to hazing adds to the problem," McCallum said.