Governor Tom Wolf today signed Senate Bill 1090, the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, which strengthens penalties for hazing and ensures that schools have safeguards to protect students. The governor was joined by Jim and Evelyn Piazza, Timothy’s parents, bill sponsor Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, Penn State President Eric J. Barron and Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Greenstein.
Timothy Piazza was a 19-year-old Penn State University student who died in February 2017 at a fraternity.
“Tim’s tragic experience has led to real change. There is no place for hazing on our college campuses. And together, we will protect students and hold accountable those who engage in it,” said Governor Wolf. “We mourn for Tim’s loss with his family, and while we can never fix what they’ve gone through, this new law will help to prevent other tragedies.
“On behalf of all Pennsylvanians, particularly other parents with children in college, I commend the Piazza family for your efforts to make sure that no other families go through what you have.”
“Thank you, Governor, for joining me in supporting this comprehensive rewrite of the state’s hazing rules by signing it into law,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34). “The Timothy J. Piazza Law emphasizes prevention, enforcement and transparency in order to end hazing in Pennsylvania. Act 80 provides tools for prosecutors, parents, students and schools to see where the problems are and punish those who irresponsibly put people in harm’s way. I commend the Piazza family for their strength and courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Their tireless efforts have made these significant reforms a reality here in Pennsylvania that will save lives. This law will be a model for changing anti-hazing laws throughout the nation with the Piazzas’ efforts leading the way.”
The new law, which passed with unanimous support in the General Assembly, provides several measures to prevent hazing, including:
- Strengthening penalties for hazing with a new tiered system that, for the first time, includes a felony for aggravated hazing that results in serious injury or death;
- Holding organizations accountable for promoting hazing, which could include the confiscation of fraternity and sorority houses;
- Requiring schools to have anti-hazing rules, enforcement policies and preventative measures and to make information about hazing violations available to the public to help inform students and parents;
- Creating a safe-harbor provision, giving students immunity from prosecution for calling police or seeking assistance for someone in need of help.
“This law is important movement in an ongoing conversation to identify meaningful solutions that create transformational change,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Unfortunately, hazing continues to plague universities across the country, and we hope this law will serve as a model for other state legislatures to effect critically needed national reform. We are thankful to our Legislature and the Governor, as well as to the family of Timothy Piazza, for their commitment to addressing this serious issue.”
Dan Greenstein, chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, added, “Students come to our 14 State System universities seeking a college experience that will positively shape their lives forever. That can happen only when everyone in the university community understands the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment. We’re proud of our track record in that regard and are proud to stand in support of this legislation.”
The National Study of Student Hazing reports that 55 percent of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing.