Over the past two sessions, Senator Judith Zaffirini and I have been working on legislation to address hazing. Most of us have heard stories about hazing practices on college campuses that led to student injury or even death. As the father of three children and an advocate for higher education, it was important to me to make steps to improve this deadly situation. As parents send their kids off to college this fall, they should be assured of their child’s safety. This session, families of hazing victims came to the capitol to testify in favor of Senate Bill 38, which is now law. They gave testimony about how their families had been adversely affected by cruel hazing methods.
Senate Bill 38 addressed hazing in several ways. First, the bill added a new definition of hazing to the law to address forced alcohol and drug use, a leading cause of hazing injuries. Secondly, the bill encouraged students to cooperate with authorities during an investigation. Third, it gave prosecutors more of the tools they need to adequately prosecute hazing cases, when appropriate. And lastly, it requires the schools to report hazing incidents in a timely manner.
Over the past two years, we have worked on developing this approach to curbing the hazing epidemic. Texas has world class universities, but the trend of dangerous and life-threatening hazing should stop immediately.