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Penn State students reminded that hazing is illegal and has serious consequences

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As students begin to take advantage of new opportunities for involvement and leadership this semester, Penn State is reminding all students of their obligations to protect the safety and welfare of their peers by eliminating hazing.

Hazing is illegal and against University policy. Penn State defines hazing as “any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or that willfully destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any registered student organization.”

Student safety is a top priority at Penn State, and the University will investigate every allegation of hazing to the fullest extent possible. Any individual or organization found responsible for hazing is subject to University discipline that may include expulsion from Penn State or termination of University employment.

Individuals and organizations also are subject to criminal prosecution and the forfeiture of property. Under Pennsylvania’s Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law, passed in October 2018, hazing in the commonwealth can lead to a felony conviction and a possible prison sentence. The law is named after Timothy Piazza, who died tragically in February 2017 after being hazed at the chapter house of the now permanently banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State.

The law establishes a tiered penalty system with stricter punishments for hazing; classifies new types of hazing; holds both individuals and organizations accountable for hazing; and requires secondary schools and institutions of higher education to publish anti-hazing policies. It applies to all organizations, including athletic teams, clubs, service organizations, fraternities and sororities, and similar groups.

The law also provides immunity for individuals in need of medical assistance as a result of hazing or underage alcohol consumption, as well as for those who seek help for others, as long as the caller notifies the proper authorities, they are the first caller, provides their name, and stays with the person until authorities arrive. Click here for more information about Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law and Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol.

Students and others in the university community can take action to prevent hazing by:

  • Learning to recognize hazing and reporting incidents.
  • Resisting anyone who encourages you to join hazing activities.
  • Notifying police and appropriate university staff if you are aware of a potential incident.

Penn State offers online anti-hazing training through Prevent.Zone, a two-course virtual learning experience that teaches how to identify, prevent and report hazing. For spring 2021, the percentage of Penn State students knowing how to report hazing increased from 60% to 91% as a result of the PreventZone modules, and 86% of Penn State students reported that they feel more empowered to prevent hazing on campus. Access to the training is available to anyone with a Penn State login.

To report instances of hazing by an individual or within any university-affiliated or recognized organization or group, contact the Office of Ethics and Compliance, the Office of Student Conduct or the Penn State Hotline, or submit a report through an anonymous online form. In an emergency, call 911 or contact Penn State Police at 814-863-1111.

Additional information about hazing prevention and resources is available from the Penn State Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

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