Timothy Piazza’s death at Penn State inspired antihazing legislation aimed at preventing others from being harmed. The Pennsylvania Senate took its final action on the legislation Monday, passing it unanimously.
All it requires to become Pennsylvania law is Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature. Wolf said in a statement Monday that “hazing is counter to the experience we want for college students in Pennsylvania. We must give law enforcement the tools to hold people accountable and ensure schools have safeguards to protect students and curb hazing.”
The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law — named in honor of the 19-year-old, who died in February 2017 as a result of injuries sustained at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Penn State’s campus — elevates hazing that results in death or serious injury to a felony.
“This bill is one of the most significant reforms in the country when it comes to bringing an end to hazing,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, said in a press release. “With fall pledge season for fraternities and sororities in full swing, I urge the governor to sign this law quickly as a signal to students and families that Pennsylvania has taken a stand against hazing-related activities.”
Corman worked with Piazza’s family and Penn State in crafting the legislation.
“The parents of Tim Piazza are grateful for the unanimous passage of the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, which, they believe, will serve (as) a national model for antihazing legislation. In particular, today was a significant step forward in deterring and eradicating the scourge of hazing on university campuses throughout the nation,” the Piazza family’s attorney, Tom Kline, said in an email.
Corman said the family has shown “great courage” throughout the process.
“They have made changing the law in Pennsylvania — and nationally — their movement to ensure that Tim’s death has not been in vain,” he said. “When signed into law, good, meaningful reforms will come from their unspeakable tragedy.”
Penn State has also been supportive of the legislation.
“President (Eric) Barron and the university have advocated for the new law and we look forward to the governor’s signature. This will be a crucial step forward in the prevention of dangerous hazing,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in an email.
The bill was introduced in March and passed unanimously by the state Senate in April and the state House last week. The House made changes to the bill, which sent it back to the Senate for the final vote Monday.
The legislation requires that schools have policies and reporting procedures to stop hazing; and ensures that parents and students are provided with information related to the hazing, according to the press release from Corman’s office.
Additionally, according to the release, it establishes “clear-cut” parameters on hazing for organizations like fraternities and sororities. It also creates “safe harbor” provisions so that students know they can call for help for someone who needs it without fear of prosecution.