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What parents and students should know about Georgia’s hazing law

If your child is planning to pledge a fraternity or sorority this fall, you may have already had the talk with them about not giving in to heavy drinking or drug use or letting themselves become victims of hazing. Fraternity hazings, in particular, have resulted in numerous deaths of young people.

It’s also crucial to help ensure that your child doesn’t get roped into participating in one of these rituals. This is more likely if they’re an upperclassman and already a member of a fraternity. 

The problem of dangerous hazing rituals has become so prevalent that a number of states, including Georgia, have implemented laws to address it. Georgia’s is called the “Max Gruver Act” after a young man who died as the result of a fraternity hazing in 2017

Who is covered under the law?

All public and private colleges and universities in the state were required under the law to have policies in place by July 1 of this year to facilitate the reporting and investigation of hazing incidents and the public disclosure of the outcome of “administrative adjudication” of those alleged to be involved. 

The law applies not just to fraternities and sororities, but to athletic teams and other clubs and associations. It applies to prospective as well as currently enrolled students.

How does the law define hazing?

Under the law, hazing is defined as subjecting someone “to an activity which endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of a student or coerces the student through the use of social or physical pressure to consume any food, liquid, alcohol, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to a likely risk of vomiting, intoxication, [or] unconsciousness regardless of a student’s willingness to participate in such activity.”

Under Georgia law, hazing is a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.” Of course, if someone is injured or dies as the result of a hazing activity, it’s possible for those accused of being involved to face additional and more serious charges.

We all know that peer pressure can be a powerful influence on young people – especially when combined with alcohol and/or drugs. It’s crucial for students to understand what hazing is and avoid becoming a part of it in any way. If your child is facing criminal charges related to a hazing incident, don’t let them try to maneuver the justice system without experienced legal guidance.