Adding Teeth to Hazing Laws

Student hazing has a body count

Student hazing has a body count. In the last five years at the University of Texas alone, two students – Tyler Cross and Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath – died in hazing-related incidents, and eight fraternities are currently in disciplinary status for hazing offenses. Senate Bill 48, currently on the Senate intent calendar, attacks the legal defenses that have curtailed some criminal prosecutions. The bill, authored by Senate Higher Education Chair Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, clarifies the legal definition of hazing to include forced drinking and drug taking, allows prosecutors in both the school's home county and counties where hazing occurs to mount prosecutions, and changes the immunity rules so that students are no longer protected for reporting their own hazing activities. Zaffirini introduced a similar bill last session, but it died in the Senate Education Committee without a hearing. This time, her Higher Ed Committee voted SB 48 out 5-0 on March 23. She said the problem remains pressing, in spite of apathy in some quarters. "What do you say to people who say, 'We don't need a bill like this; boys will be boys'?" she asked. Her advice? Introduce them to someone who suffered hazing or lost a loved one.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Richard Whittaker
The Mystery of the Pink Flamingo
The film about flamingos that is definitely not about flamingos

Dec. 4, 2020

Insert Coin
How Midway Games dominated the arcade business

Dec. 4, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

student hazing, Judith Zaffirini, Senate Bill 48, 81st Legislature

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle