Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a package of bills aimed at addressing the issue of hazing on Louisiana university campuses.
“Students need to know that their leaders take hazing seriously,” Edwards said. “This legislation sends the clear message that the state of Louisiana does not tolerate hazing of any kind. It is one important step toward ending the culture of hazing and secrecy in university organizations and creating a culture of openness, honesty and accountability.”
The four bills in the package will strengthen penalties for hazing, require colleges and universities to provide hazing education and prevention training, provide protections to those who report cases of hazing, and penalize those who do not seek help for someone in distress.
“Our ultimate goal is to save lives,” Edwards said. “I hope that these laws will ease some of the heartbreak of the families who have endured this tragedy, and I hope that Louisiana students will be armed with the knowledge they need to prevent any future tragedies.”
HB 270 by Rep. Franklin Foil (R – Baton Rouge) protects the identity of anyone who reports hazing from release under the Public Records Law.
HB 78, The Max Gruver Act, by Rep. Nancy Landry (R – Lafayette) creates the crime of criminal hazing with offenders facing either a fine up to $1,000, imprisonment up to six months or both; if the hazing results in serious bodily injury, death, or if the hazing involves forced alcohol consumption that results in a blood alcohol level of at least .30, offenders will face a fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to five years. The bill also amends current hazing law to apply to any organization in an education institution and specifies what defines hazing.
HB 793 by Rep. Steve Carter (R – Baton Rouge) requires colleges and universities to provide annual hazing education and prevention training.
HB 446 by Rep. Reid Falconer (R – St. Tammany) requires that any person at the scene of an emergency where another person suffers serious bodily harm give reasonable assistance to the injured person including seeking help or reporting the need for help to the appropriate authority. Persons who fail to immediately report the need can be criminally charged with a fine up to $1,000, imprisoned up to one year or both. If the injury results in death, the offender will be fined up to $2,500, imprisoned up to five years or both.
The bills were filed and passed during the regular session, in response to the death of Max Gruver. Gruver was a freshman pledge at an LSU fraternity. He died after a night at the fraternity. An autopsy showed Gruver’s blood-alcohol content level at the time of his death was 0.495, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark said Wednesday. The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving in Louisiana is 0.08 percent.
To read previous stories about this legislation, click here.
Several young men have been indicted in connection with Gruver’s death, and the fraternity has been banned from LSU’s campus until 2032. To read our most recent story, click here.