Penn State University and other higher education institutions are trying to find ways to encourage students to report hazing tips. For Penn State, this comes after the tragic death of 19 year old Timothy Piazza, who died during a hazing incident at Beta Theta Pi’s pledge acceptance party in February of 2017.
20 months later Pennsylvania now has some of the strictest hazing laws in the country after Governor Tom Wolf’s signing of the ‘Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing law’. The new law will strengthen penalties for hazing while also providing safeguards for protecting students. The increased penalties can include felony charges, while those who call police during a hazing incident will receive immunity from prosecution.
“There is no place for hazing on our college campuses. Together we will protect students and hold accountable those who engage in hazing,” says Governor Wolf.
Reports suggest that Piazza was given 18 drinks in 82 minutes, and that he fell down the same flight of stairs at different times throughout the night and following morning. His fraternity brothers didn’t call for help until about 12 hours after the first fall.
According to Hank Nuwer, author of four books about hazing, 82 percent of deaths from hazing involve alcohol use, either by the victim or the perpetrator. Also more than half of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experienced hazing according to a 2008 study called “Hazing in View: College Students at Risk”.
“These kids come to college and it’s someone’s child or brother or sister. You are there to show them college, not to haze them and hurt them,” says Juliana Piazza, Timothy’s cousin.
Part of the issue of getting students to report hazing tips is that students are attempting to be accepted by their peers during a transitional time in their life… and therefore either hesitate to contact authorities, or prefer not to altogether for fear of being judged by their peers or prosecuted. This communication barrier is a dangerous one, but there are ways that colleges and universities can bridge this gap by providing a way for students to safely and anonymously report hazing tips, along with any other safety concerns on campus.
Safety apps, such as CampusShield, provide that simple layer of protection that connects students to the proper safety authorities without revealing the tip submitter’s identity.
Learn more about CampusShield and how to anonymously report hazing tips
View the complete study: Hazing in View: College Students at Risk