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The Stop Campus Hazing Act, sponsored by McBath and co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan (S.C.) and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is similar to a law already on the books in Georgia.
In 2021, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Georgia Anti-Hazing Law, called the Max Gruver Act.
The legislation was named for a Roswell native, Gruver, who died in a hazing incident at Louisiana State University in 2017.
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The newly introduced federal legislation would amend the statutes of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make colleges and universities report hazing incidents and create a campus-wide research-based hazing education program, as well as include related statistics on hazing in annual college crime reports.
“The impacts of hazing across our country are heartbreaking and unacceptable. I know the pain of losing a child, and we must do everything we can so that families know their kids are being kept safe when they go off to college,” McBath said in a statement.
She continued, saying the legislation would strengthen important standards for collecting data and reporting across the country to better inform students and families about “horrific” hazing incidents, and take steps to protect the health, safety, and success of America’s higher education enrollees.
The Georgia law has multiple provisions to ensure student safety on campus and report the results of campus hazing incident reviews within 15 days of final adjudication or criminal conviction.
The law also defines hazing as “an activity which endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of a student or coerces the student through the use of social or physical pressure to consume any food, liquid, alcohol, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to a likely risk of vomiting, intoxication, or unconsciousness regardless of a student’s willingness to participate in such activity.”
The Georgia law defines school organizations subject to the hazing legislation as “any association, corporation, order, club, society, fraternity, sorority, athletic team, or a group living together which has students or alumni as its principal members, including local affiliate organizations.”
Georgia’s Max Gruver Act also explicitly makes it illegal for any hazing to occur in connection to gaining acceptance, membership, office or status in a school organization.
The law applies to any unit of the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, as well as private postsecondary schools, colleges or universities in the state of Georgia.
In McBath’s proposed legislation, hazing’s definition is similar, covering a slightly more specifically defined set of organizations, but overall impacting the same types of groups as the Georgia law.
While similar in scope of organizations, the McBath proposal also includes hazing incidents involving harm to mental health, and degradation, to physical injuries for acts to be made illegal.
Regarding data, the bill wants to statistically analyze college and university campuses for trends in hazing incidents across the U.S.
“Hazing on college campuses has taken the lives of too many shining stars,” Duncan said in a statement. “Our district knows the pain of losing a son, and friend, to hazing. I’m proud to stand up for countless students like Tucker W. Hipps whose life was taken too soon. If we stand united, we can put an end to hazing and ensure no one is subjected to the horrific pain it brings.”
Loss of life was what motivated the Georgia legislation as well.
In 2017, Gruver died of alcohol poisoning after drinking at an LSU fraternity house. As previously reported, a fellow student, Matthew Naquin was convicted of negligent homicide in Gruver’s death in 2019.
Channel 2 Action News reported in 2021 that Naquin had previously been asked by other fraternity members to tone down interactions with pledges that they said were extreme and dangerous.
Gruver’s family also sued LSU after his death, claiming in court that the university had policed sorority hazing more strictly than it did for its fraternities, which somewhat led to their son’s death. In March, his parents won their case in court and a federal jury awarded them $6.1 million.
The family founded The Max Gruver Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hazing on college campuses after his death.
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