Cuomo signs anti-hazing bill that prohibits harmful physical contact during initiation ceremonies

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS, inset via New York Daily News

A new law on the books aims to protect students in Queens and other parts of the Empire State from harmful hazing acts.

On Aug. 13, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a piece of legislation that would prohibit certain kinds of physical contact during any organization’s initiating ceremony. The law is aimed to prevent the deaths or serious injuries of students during fraternity pledging ceremonies.

“These hazing rituals are dangerous and reckless with potentially fatal consequences, and I’m proud to sign this legislation to protect college students across this great state,” Cuomo said. “As we prepare for the beginning of another school year, parents and students alike deserve to have peace of mind that we take hazing seriously and will have zero tolerance for these abuses in New York.” 

Under the new law, those who engage in physical contact or require physical activity that creates a substantial risk of physical injury and causes injury as part of an initiation ritual will be found guilty of hazing in the first degree, which will be punishable by up to a year in jail.

“The safety of our students is a top priority and these hazing rituals put them at risk of physical and emotional harm,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This legislation will help to combat these dangerous rituals and prevent injury and potential fatality of our students. We will not tolerate these actions that threaten the lives of students in New York state.”

The legislation was prompted by the death of 19-year-old Michael Deng. A Flushing resident and student at Baruch College, Deng died after suffering a head injury as a result of a hazing ritual in 2013.

“Hazing is reckless and dangerous behavior, and we must do everything in our power to protect students from danger,” said Assemblyman David Weprin. “Michael Deng’s death was a horrific and preventable tragedy, and I was proud to sponsor this legislation to honor his memory and prevent future families’ heartbreak. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation to save lives and bring comfort to Michael’s family.”

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