Students reminded that hazing is illegal and against Penn State policy

September 09, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State continues to facilitate in-person opportunities for student engagement and leadership, it is important that all students be reminded of their obligation to protect the welfare of their fellow students by eliminating hazing.

Hazing, or attempting to encourage group loyalty by demeaning, injuring or endangering members of a team or organization, is illegal and against University policy. Student safety is a top priority at Penn State, and the University will investigate every allegation of hazing to the fullest extent possible.

Any individual or organization found responsible for hazing is subject to University discipline that may include expulsion from Penn State or termination of University employment. Individuals and organizations also are subject to criminal prosecution and the forfeiture of property. Under Pennsylvania’s Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law, passed in October 2018, hazing in the commonwealth now can lead to a felony conviction and a possible prison sentence. The law is named after Timothy Piazza, who died tragically in February 2017 after being hazed at the chapter house of the now permanently banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State.

This law establishes a tiered penalty system with stricter punishments for hazing; classifies new types of hazing; holds both individuals and organizations accountable for hazing; and requires secondary schools and institutions of higher education to publish anti-hazing policies. It applies to all organizations, including athletic teams, clubs, service organizations, Greek-letter organizations and similar groups.

The law also provides immunity for individuals in need of medical assistance as a result of hazing or underage alcohol consumption, as well as for those who seek help for others, as long as the caller notifies the proper authorities, believes they are the first caller, provides their name, and stays with the person until authorities arrive.

Hazing broadly includes any activity that demeans, injures or endangers a student, or causes a student to violate the law for the purpose of initiating, admitting or affiliating into or with an organization, or for the purpose of continuing or enhancing a student’s membership or status in an organization.

Students and others in the University community can take action to prevent hazing by:

  • Learning to recognize hazing and reporting incidents.
  • Resisting anyone who encourages you to join hazing activities.
  • Notifying police and appropriate University staff if you are aware of a potential incident.

To report instances of hazing by an individual or within any University-affiliated or recognized organization or group, contact the Office of Ethics and Compliance, the Office of Student Conduct or the Penn State Hotline, or submit a report through an anonymous online form. In an emergency, call 911 or contact Penn State Police at 814-863-1111.

Last Updated September 22, 2020