Hazing Crackdown Gets Texas Senate OK Just Weeks After UTA Student Nearly Died From Alcohol Poisoning

Coercing someone to consume alcohol or drugs would be hazing under a bill passed out of the Texas Senate on Thursday. The move comes just a week after the University of Texas at Arlington shut down nearly all Greek life after a student nearly died from alcohol poisoning. Officials haven't released details of what led up to their unprecedented move but said the near death as well as allegations of hazing and sexual assaults prompted the decision. But it isn't always easy for college officials or law enforcement to determine what constitutes hazing because current law is too vague. At least three students have died since 2017 -- Matthew Ellis, Joseph Little and Nicholas Cumberland -- because of hazing-related incidents, said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, a coauthor of the bill. The deaths have been connected to hazing incidents where alcohol and drug use was involved. "Some may dismiss this conduct as crude but mostly harmless rights of passage, or as teambuilding exercises," Zaffirini said. "That supposedly innocent intent, however, often is perverted into acts of cruelty and degradation, including downright torture and life threatening experiences." The bill aims to make prosecuting hazing cases easier by clarifying jurisdiction and to require schools to be more transparent and to promptly disclose publicly details when a hazing incident occurs. Some were concerned that the bill might overreach or be hard apply if it included broad language adding psychological abuse to hazing. Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, added an amendment to strip out most of that language.   Continue reading...

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