- 2004 FRATERNAL LAW CONFERENCE November 19-20, 2004
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- NATIONAL RESOLUTION SUPPORTS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
- VICTIMS OF RAPE — AND ALCOHOL
- PRIVATE CAMPUS — PUBLIC RECORDS
- A PLEDGE DROWNS — $12.6 MILLION DOLLAR VERDICT
- FLORIDA RECONSIDERS HAZING STATUTE
Newsletter > March 2004 > "FLORIDA RECONSIDERS HAZING STATUTE"
FLORIDA RECONSIDERS HAZING STATUTE
Robert Manley, Manley Burke
At the impetus of Adam Hasner, a member of Phi Delta Theta and State Representative in Florida, the anti-hazing laws in Florida are in process of revision. Florida House Bill 1261 revises the definition of hazing as follows:
“As used in this section, ‘hazing’ means any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. Such term includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing a person into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity which could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity which would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity which could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions. Hazing does not include any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.”
If hazing results in serious bodily injury or death of the person being hazed, the crime is a third degree felony. If hazing merely creates a substantial risk of physical injury, it is a first degree misdemeanor.
Any punishment imposed by the law must be accompanied by a four-hour hazing education course that the convicted defendant must attend.
This statute enumerates several things that are not treated as valid defenses, for example:
- Consent of the victim to the hazing is not a defense.
- The fact that the activity that led to injury or death through hazing was not part of an official organizational event is not a defense.
- The fact that the hazing that results in death or injury was not done as a condition of membership to the organization is not a valid defense.
The statute requires all public and nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions whose students receive state student financial assistance to adopt a written policy against hazing. Additionally, the institution must have a systematic method to enforce the anti-hazing policy within the institution. Among the sanctions authorized at state-supported universities and colleges is the imposition of fines, the withholding of diplomas or transcripts, and the imposition of probation, suspension or dismissal. An organization that fosters hazing can lose its recognition from the state-supported institution.
The penalties in this new anti-hazing statute are designed to be in addition to other criminal penalties. Other criminal offenses might include assault and battery, torture, false imprisonment, or homicide.
The statute especially provides that it is not to be used for a springboard for civil lawsuits. It states: “Nothing in this act shall be construed to constitute grounds for any civil cause of action that is not otherwise provided in law.” Obviously, a civil cause of action for an intentional tort of assault and battery does exist under civil law without the existence of this statute.