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New Anti-Hazing Law In New Jersey Named After Tim Piazza

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a new anti-hazing law Tuesday that’s named after former Penn State student Tim Piazza.

Piazza died in a hazing-related incident at Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at Penn State in 2017.

The new law established that hazing that results in serious injury or death will be considered a third-degree crime, up from a fourth-degree. A conviction will carry a prison sentence of up to five years, a fine as high as $15,000, or both. That’s increased from a prison term of up to 18 months, a $10,000 fine, or both.

Previously, the New Jersey law described hazing as “conduct, other than competitive athletic events, which places or may place another person in danger of bodily injury.”

The law broadens the kinds of activities that can be considered hazing to include actions that cause or coerce someone to violate the law, to consume food or drink that can put the person at risk of physical or emotional harm, or to endure physical or mental brutality, along with any other kind of activity that could hurt the person.

All public and private middle schools, high schools, and colleges must draw up anti-hazing policies, along with penalties for violations that could include withholding of a diploma, suspension, or expulsion.

“Hazing will no longer be treated with a symbolic smack on the back of the hand or, worse, a blind eye and a smirk,” Murphy said.

Republican state Senator Kip Bateman sponsored the legislation after Piazza’s 12-year-old neighbor, Matthew Prager, wrote to him asking him to author anti-hazing legislation in Piazza’s name.

“To this day, I am grateful to Matthew for sending me that letter,” Bateman said. “No student deserves to go through the ritual humiliation that 19-year-old Timothy Piazza experienced on the night that he lost his life.”

Piazza’s mother, Evelyn, also praised Prager for advocating for the law.

“If a 12-year-old boy can recognize the difference between what is right and wrong and what it means to be a friend and inclusive, we are hopeful others can learn from this,” she said.

A similar anti-hazing law also named after Piazza was enacted in Pennsylvania back in 2018.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a junior biology major from York, Pa and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected]

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