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Louisiana Governor Signs Tougher Anti-Hazing Bills into Law

One of the bills, named The Max Gruver Act, was inspired by the hazing death of a Louisiana State fraternity pledge and holds organizations and individuals more accountable.

Louisiana Governor Signs Tougher Anti-Hazing Bills into Law

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The governor of Louisiana signed a series of bills last Thursday that will toughen anti-hazing legislation in the state.

Governor John Bel Edwards signed the four bills meant to address the growing problem of hazing on Louisiana campuses, reports Livingston Parish News.

“Students need to know that their leaders take hazing seriously,” Edwards said. “This legislation sends the clear message that the state of Louisiana does not tolerate hazing of any kind. It is one important step toward ending the culture of hazing and secrecy in university organizations and creating a culture of openness, honesty and accountability.”

The first bill, HB 270, protects students that report violations of student codes of conduct related to hazing.

The second, HB 793, requires colleges and universities to provide annual hazing education and prevention. It will also require universities and colleges to expel or suspend students who haze others.

Additionally, under HB 793, the state Board of Regents must now develop a uniform policy on hazing prevention for all schools in the state.

HB 466 requires any person at the scene of an emergency where another person suffers serious bodily harm give reasonable assistance to the injured person, including seeking help or reporting the need for help to appropriate authorities.

Those who fail to report the need for help may be criminally charged with a fine of up to $1,000 and could be imprisoned up to one year. If the injury results in death, the offender will be fined up to $2,500 and could be imprisoned up to five years.

The final bill, HB 78, also known as The Max Gruver Act, creates the crime of criminal hazing with offenders facing a fine up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to six months. If the hazing results in serious bodily harm or death, or if it results in a blood alcohol level of at least .30, offenders will face a fine up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to five years.

Organizations – fraternities, sororities, associations, social clubs, athletic teams and similar groups on college or high school campuses – that knowingly allow hazing could also face fines of up to $10,000.

Bill Inspired by LSU Pledge’s Hazing Death

Max Gruver was a freshman at Louisiana State University when he died on September 14 after pledging at the school’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Gruver was partaking in an event referred to as “Bible study,” where pledges are quizzed on information about the fraternity and forced to drink alcohol if they give incorrect answers.

Members later found Gruver lying on a couch. An autopsy revealed his blood alcohol level at the time of his death was .495. Gruver’s official cause of death was ruled acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration, meaning he inhaled vomit and other fluids into his lungs.

One man is facing a negligent homicide charge while three others are facing misdemeanor hazing charges in connection with Gruver’s death.

Gruver’s parents, Rae Ann and Stephen Gruver, witnessed Edwards signing the bill into law. Edwards used four pens to represent each member of the Gruver family, reports The Advocate.

“They have been very courageous in telling Max’s story, as difficult as that has been for them but it’s important that they did that, and so I know we all appreciate it,” Edwards said of the couple.

The Gruver’s, who previously testified in favor of the bill at Louisiana’s Capitol and established the Max Gruver Foundation to help other states establish anti-hazing policies, said the “bittersweet” legislation was only a “piece of the puzzle” and emphasized the importance of educating others, including high school students.

“Our ultimate goal is to save lives,” said Edwards. “I hope that these laws will ease some of the heartbreak of the families who have endured this tragedy and I hope that Louisiana students will be armed with the knowledge they need to prevent any future tragedies.”

About the Author

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Amy Rock is the Campus Safety Web Editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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