Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed anti-hazing legislation to help keep students safe as they go back to school. The law (S.2755/A.5200) prohibits certain physical contact or requiring physical activity in any organization's initiating ceremony 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," Governor 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."
"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."
Senator Ken LaValle said, "I am pleased that the measure is being signed into law before the start of the next college semester. Too many families have had to grieve the loss of a relative due to hazing. Whether it be from dangerous hazing incidents, alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses, we need to continue to combat the problems causing tragic deaths and injuries on campuses. This new law will bring the changes necessary to deter such harmful behavior in the future."
Assemblyman David Weprin said, "Hazing is reckless and dangerous behavior, and we must do everything in our power to protect students from danger. 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."
The legislation was prompted by the death of Michael Deng, a 19-year-old Baruch College student and Flushing resident who died after suffering a massive head injury as a result of a hazing ritual in 2013. Under the law, those who engage in physical contact or require physical activity that creates a substantial risk of physical injury and causes that injury as part of an initiation ritual will be guilty of hazing in the first degree, punishable by up to a year in jail.