Hazing

In 2006, the California Legislature enacted a law that makes hazing a potential felony, that is punishable with up to one year in prison, $5,000 in fines, and liability for injury to any persons harmed. The liability for hazing also applies to student organizations, and not just to those who directly participated in the hazing acts.

Hazing, or conspiracy to haze, is defined in Education Code Sections 32050 and 32051 as:

"Hazing" includes any method or initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization, or any pastime or amusement engaged in with respect to such an organization which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm, to any student or other person attending any school, community college, college, university or other educational institution in this state; but the term "hazing" does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions.

A group of students acting together may be considered a student organization' for purposes of this section whether or not they are officially recognized. Neither the express or implied consent of the victim of hazing, nor the lack of active participation while hazing is going on is a defense. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing is not a neutral act, and is also a violation of this section.

More information about hazing and the law.