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Proposed bill aims to crack down on hazing

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There could be a serious change in the hazing practices of New York State universities in the near future. Senate Bill S2552, which passed through the New York State Senate in March, “Provides increased penalties and education for hazing, underage drinking and drug use within athletic teams, fraternities and sororities at college campuses.”

Hazing has been a hot-button issue on college campuses around the country. Although less than five percent of University at Albany students participate in Greek life, it has had its fair share of hazing scandals. Of the 39 Greek chapters listed on the university’s website, 17 are under suspension, probation, or derecognized altogether.

Due to past hazing-related issues, UAlbany has a strict anti-hazing policy. According to UAlbany’s Anti-Hazing Coordinator Emily Feuer, education is an important step in hazing prevention.

“When we think about prevention, we’re really thinking about it in different approaches. One approach is education about hazing, so we have a hazing prevention course,” Feuer said.

“As of right now, any new member of a fraternity or a sorority has to take that course. Any executive board member of a fraternity or sorority has to take that course, and also any executive board member for any club or organization on-campus has to take it.”

The new hazing-prevention bill in the New York State Senate also advocates for increased anti-hazing education. In fact, much of what is in the legislation is already being done on UAlbany’s campus.

“To be honest, I don’t think the bill will have too much of an impact, because we’re already doing a lot of the things that the new bill is stating,” said Feuer, who explained current university policies already mirror those in the new law.

According to the UAlbany policy, hazing is defined as “any reckless or intentional conduct in connection with the initiation into, or affiliation with, any organization which degrades, humiliates or endangers the mental or physical health of any person, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” This conduct is included but not limited to forced consumption of alcohol, food, or illegal, substances, forced personal practices, psychological abuse, and physical brutality.

There will also be a Hazing Prevention Week from Oct. 22 to 26 on campus, where students can learn how to recognize, prevent, and report hazing practices.

Senate Bill S2552 has passed the Senate and will face the State Assembly next. This means that for UAlbany students who continue hazing practices could face much more serious charges if caught, while pledges may expect a less stressful experience while rushing.

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