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Penn State conference focuses on best practices under new anti-hazing law

Written by Min Xian/WPSU | May 10, 2019 5:18 AM
Piazza bill signing.jpg

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania shakes hands with Jim Piazza after signing anti-hazing legislation inspired by Piazza's son, Penn State student Tim Piazza who died after a night of drinking in a fraternity house, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Harrisburg, Pa. Sitting between them is Evelyn Piazza, the mother of Tim Piazza. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

(State College) -- Pennsylvania passed a new law last year, which requires higher education institutions to establish antihazing policies and publish hazing reports. Penn State is hosting a conference Thursday to discuss best practices under the new law.  

The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law is named after the Penn State student who died from fatal injuries suffered during a fraternity hazing in 2017. Following his death, his parents advocated against hazing, and the state's legislature supported changes to the antihazing statute which toughen penalties.

The one-day conference on the University Park campus will provide workshops on how to develop antihazing policies within colleges, how to educate students and families about this law including its safe harbor policy, and how to complete the biannual report.

Kathleen Shupenko, associate director for the Office of Student Conduct at Penn State, said the university publishes a biannual hazing report as required by the law and, in addition, its own Greek organization conduct scorecard.

"With both of those, it provides the opportunity to be forward-facing and the community to be engaged in that dialogue of what's happening on our campuses," Shupenko said.

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This Oct. 31, 2014, photo provided by Patrick Carns shows Timothy Piazza, center, with his parents Evelyn Piazza, left, and James Piazza, right, during Hunterdon Central Regional High School football's "Senior Night." (Patrick Carns via AP)

The state's higher education institutions published the first biannual hazing reports this January. Penn State reported 31 hazing incidents ranging between 2013 and 2018.

"It is each university's responsibility to post the report on the school's publicly accessible website, which we believe will be a valuable tool for parents and students as they make decisions on institutions to attend and organizations to join," said Zack Moore, vice president for Government and Community Relations at the university.

"We hope that institutions and the public will see a decline in hazing incidents, but at this time it is likely premature to determine how much of an impact the law will have," Moore said. "I believe that through education of the law, enforcement of our policies and reforms, and reporting violations, that the impacts will be positive and noticeable."

Representatives from 20 institutions, including Lock Haven University, Bloomsburg University and Carnegie Mellon University, will attend Thursday's conference.

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