NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two state lawmakers are looking to strengthen New York’s anti-hazing laws after a Baruch College fraternity member died in December.
Assemblyman David Weprin, D-Fresh Meadows, announced Sunday he has co-authored a bill that would expand the state’s current anti-hazing statute by prohibiting “all physical conduct and physical activities required from fraternities during the pledging ceremonies,” he said in a news release. The current law prohibits conduct that creates a substantial risk of physical injury or causes injury.
“We were kind of too general as to what would come under the classification of hazing, which is already illegal under New York state law,” Weprin told WCBS 880.
“We want to make fraternities or any organization aware of this legislation and the need to crack down on any of these rituals that involve any form of physical contact. The intent may not be to cause physical injury, but once you’re dealing with physical contact, you don’t know where it’s going to end up.”
The legislation has been named “Michael’s Law,” in honor of Chun “Michael” Deng, 19, who died after sustaining a fatal brain injury after participating in an initiation ritual during a Pi Delta Psi trip to Tunkhannock Township, Pa., in December. Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania coroner ruled Deng’s death a homicide.
Monroe County District Attorney David Christine has said he plans to file criminal charges in the freshman’s death.
“I’d like to have this legislation become law in memory of Michael Deng, as ‘Michael’s Law,’ and to honor his memory and the other victims of hazing by ensuring that no college student in New York state is ever again put in the situation where their own safety is jeopardized,” Weprin said.
The bill is co-authored by state Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson.
“Hazing cannot and will not be tolerated,” LaValle said in the news release. “Time and time again there have been people hurt or worse from this form of ‘induction.’ This legislation is another step towards halting the physical abuse of individuals who are just looking to belong. Stopping hazing has been and will remain a top priority of mine.”
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