Under state law, individuals and/or organizations engaging in hazing could be subject to fines and charged with a criminal offense. Under HPU policy, individuals and/or organizations engaging in hazing may be subject to disciplinary sanctions including expulsion.
Important Definitions from Texas Law, Education Code
Sec. 37.151 (2), (3), (4), (5), (6)
“Pledge” means any person who has been accepted by, is considering an offer of membership from, or is in the process of qualifying for membership in an organization. (HPU uses the terms potential new member and new member.)
“Pledging” means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization. (HPU uses the terms new member education process.)
“Student” means any person who:
A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational institution;
B) has been accepted for admission at the educational institution where the hazing incident occurs; or
C) intends to attend an educational institution during any of its regular sessions after a period of scheduled vacation.
“Organization” means a fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, corps, club, or student government, a band or musical group or an academic, athletic, cheerleading, or dance team, including any group or team that participates in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition, or a service, social, or similar group, whose members are primarily students.
“Hazing” means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization if the act:
A) is any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity;
B) involves sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, calisthenics, or other similar activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
C) involves consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance, other than as described by Paragraph (E), that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
D) is any activity that induces, causes, or requires the student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the Penal Code; or
E) involves coercing, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, the student to consume: a drug; or an alcoholic beverage or liquor in an amount that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the student is intoxicated, as defined by Section 49.01, Penal Code.
According to the law, a person can commit a hazing offense not only by engaging in a hazing activity, but also by soliciting, directing, encouraging, aiding, or attempting to aid another in hazing; by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly allowing hazing to occur; or by failing to report in writing to the Dean of Students knowledge that a hazing incident is planned or has occurred (see Sec. 37.152).
An organization commits a hazing offense if the organization condones or encourages hazing or if an officer or any combination of members, pledges, or alumni of the organization commits or assists in the commission of hazing (see Sec. 37.153).
A person’s consent to a hazing activity does not legalize and or legitimize the activity (see Sec. 37.154)
Important Note on Immunity from Prosecution or Civil Liability
A) In the prosecution of an offense under this subchapter, the court may grant immunity from prosecution for the offense to each person who is subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution and who does testify for the prosecution.
B) Any person who voluntarily reports a specific hazing incident involving a student in an educational institution to the dean of students or other appropriate official of the institution is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of the reported hazing incident if the person: reports the incident before being contacted by the institution concerning the incident or otherwise being included in the institution’s investigation of the incident; and as determined by the dean of students or other appropriate official of the institution designated by the institution, cooperates in good faith throughout any institutional process regarding the incident.
C) Immunity under Subsection (b) extends to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report.
D) A person is not immune under Subsection (b) if the person: reports the person’s own act of hazing; or reports an incident of hazing in bad faith or with malice.
The law does not affect or in any way restrict the right of the University to enforce its own rules and/or penalties against hazing.
Howard Payne provides an anonymous hazing submission form for students to report hazing incidents to the Director of Student Activities.
Copies of the entire hazing bill enacted by the Texas legislature are available from the Office of Student Life or the hazing bill may be viewed in its entirety at the “Texas Legislature Online” website at: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/
The hazing bill is found in the Texas Education Code, Chapter 37, sections 37.151 through 37.158.