NEW JERSEY – Senator Kip Bateman and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean’s legislation to increase penalties for hazing has passed the New Jersey Senate.
Timothy Piazza of Readington Township, a 19-year-old Penn State University student, died in February 2017 during a fraternity hazing ritual.
“Hazing is a despicable crime disguised as a game against one’s peers, often resulting in physical or mental trauma, or worse,” Bateman said. “No student deserves to go through the ritual humiliation that Timothy Piazza experienced on the night that he died. With the enactment of this bill, hazing will no longer be tolerated in New Jersey’s high schools and colleges.”
“More than half of all students are hazed at some point during their college career,” said Kean. “We won’t allow this culture of humiliation and violence to continue in New Jersey. Our legislation sends a clear message: if you engage in hazing, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
S-84/2093 would upgrade the crime of hazing from a disorderly persons offense to a fourth-degree crime if it causes bodily injury, and to a third-degree crime if it causes serious bodily injury. The bill would also require high schools, universities, and student organizations, including fraternities, to take a more active role in preventing and punishing hazing activities.
Bateman noted that he was inspired to introduce the legislation after he received a letter from Matthew Prager, a 12-year-old Readington student who was also Timothy Piazza’s friend and neighbor.