ATLANTA – Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives introduced legislation to ban hazing on college campuses.
The Stop Campus Hazing Act, sponsored by McBath and co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan (S.C.) and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), is similar to legislation already in effect the books in Georgia.
In 2021, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Georgia Anti-Hazing Law, called the Max Gruver Act.
The law was named after Gruver, a Roswell native 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 require colleges and universities to report hazing incidents and create a campus-wide, research-based hazing education program, as well as include related hazing statistics in colleges’ annual crime reports.
“The impact of harassment across our country is heartbreaking and unacceptable. I know the pain of losing a child, and we must do everything we can to help families know their children will be safe when they go to college,” McBath said in a statement.
She continued, saying the legislation would strengthen key data collection and reporting standards across the country to better inform students and families about “horrific” hazing incidents and take action to protect the health, safety and success of America to take advantage of university graduates.
Georgia law has several provisions to ensure the safety of students on campus and to report the results of reviews of campus harassment incidents within 15 days of the final decision or criminal conviction.
The law also defines hazing as “an activity that endangers or may endanger the physical health of a student or, through the use of social or physical pressure, compels the student to consume food, liquids, alcohol, drugs or other substances affecting him “The student is at probable risk of vomiting, intoxication or loss of consciousness regardless of the student’s willingness to participate in such activity.”
Georgia law defines school organizations subject to hazing legislation as “any association, corporation, order, club, society, fraternity, sorority, sports team, or cohabiting group, the principal members of which are students or alumni, including local affiliates.”
Gruver’s family pushed for it to be approved after a similar attempt was successful in Louisiana after his death.
Georgia’s Max Gruver Act also expressly prohibits any harassment in connection with obtaining acceptance, membership, office, or status in a school organization.
The law applies to all units of the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, and private secondary schools, colleges, or universities in the state of Georgia.
In McBath’s proposed legislation, the definition of hazing is similar and covers a slightly more specific group of organizations, but overall impacts the same types of groups as the Georgia law.
While the McBath proposal envisages similar organizations in scope, it also includes incidents of hazing that result in harm to mental health and humiliation, including physical harm, in order to make actions illegal.
Regarding data, the bill would require college and university campuses to be statistically analyzed for trends in hazing incidents across the United States
“Harassment on campus has cost the lives of too many shining stars,” Duncan said in a statement. “Our district knows the pain of losing a son and friend to bullying. I am proud to stand up for countless students like Tucker W. Hipps whose lives were taken too soon. If we stand united, we can end the bullying and ensure that no one is subjected to the terrible pain it brings.”
The loss of life was also the reason for the Georgia legislation.
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 involuntary manslaughter in Gruver’s death in 2019.
Channel 2 Action News reported in 2021 that Naquin had previously been asked by other members of the Brotherhood to tone down interactions with pledges they described as extreme and dangerous.
Gruver’s family also sued LSU after his death, claiming in court that the university monitored sorority intimidation more closely than its fraternities, which in some ways 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 organization that works to end hazing on college campuses after his death.
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