Summary of the State of Texas Anti-Hazing Statute
The Texas antihazing statute took effect on September 1, 1987. The act covers offenses related to hazing at, or in connection with, educational institutions. Individuals and organizations are both covered by the law. Individuals include active members, associate/new members, affiliates, alumni and advisers. Organizations are defined as any fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, corps, club, cooperative, or service, social, or similar group whose members are mostly students at an educational institution. Thus all Recognized Student Organizations at St. Mary’s University are covered by the statute.
The statute covers hazing incidents both on and off University property. One’s consent to be hazed is not a defense to the prosecution of any offense under the statute. Individuals who have firsthand knowledge of hazing, including those who are hazed, are required by law to report that knowledge to appropriate University officials. In addition, all incidents of hazing handled by the University must also be referred directly to the Bexar County District Attorney.
Definition of Hazing: Hazing under the statute means any intentional, knowing or reckless act occurring on or off campus, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are, or include, students at St. Mary’s University. The term “hazing” under the statute includes, but is not limited to, offenses that subject the student to an unreasonable risk or harm or that adversely affect the mental or physical health or safety of the student.
- Physical brutality is defined, but not limited to: whipping, beating, striking, paddling, branding, electronic shocking, placing a harmful substance on the body or other similar activities;
- Physical activities that put students at risk or discomfort including, but not limited to, sleep or food deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement to a small space and calisthenics;
- Forced consumption of substances such as food, alcoholic beverages, drugs or other substances that may affect their mental or physical health;
- Activities that intimidate or threaten a student with ostracism;
- Activities that subject the student to extreme mental stress, shame or humiliation;
- Activities that affect the mental health or dignity of the student;
- Activities that induce, cause or require a student to perform an act in violation of the penal code.
Personal Offenses: A person commits an offense under the statute if they:
- Engage in hazing;
- Solicit, encourage, direct, aid or attempt to aid another engaged in hazing;
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly permit hazing to occur;
- Have firsthand knowledge of the planning of a specific hazing event or have firsthand
- knowledge that a specific event has occurred and fail to report that knowledge in writing to appropriate St. Mary’s University officials.
Penalties for Personal Offenses: The court may impose both a fine and confinement for any offense. In all cases, except when an offense has caused the death of a student, the court may require a person to perform community service under the same provisions as the criminal code allows.
- Failure to report hazing is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1000; confinement in the County jail for not more than 180 days.
- An offense not causing bodily injury is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not less than $500, nor more than $1000; confinement in the County jail for not less than 90 days, nor more than 180 days.
- Offenses causing serious bodily injury are misdemeanors punishable by a fine not less than $1000, nor more than $5000; confinement in the County jail for not less than 180 days.
- Offenses causing death are misdemeanors punishable by a fine not less than $5000, nor more than $10,000; confinement in the County jail for not less than one year, nor more than two years, or both such, fine and confinement.
Organizational Offenses: An organization commits an offense if the organization condones or encourages hazing, or if an officer or any combination of members, new members or alumni of the organization commits or assists in the commission of hazing.
Penalties for Organizational Offenses: An organizational offense is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $5000, nor more than $10,000, for the organization. If the court finds the offense caused personal injury, property damage or other loss, the court may sentence the organization to pay a fine of not less than $5000, nor more than double the amount lost or expenses incurred because of such damage, injury or loss.
Provision for Immunity: The law provides for immunity from prosecution under the statute to a person who is subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution and who does testify for the prosecution. Any person reporting any specific hazing incident in writing to the appropriate St. Mary’s University official is immune from civil or criminal liability. Immunity extends to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report, except that a person reporting hazing in bad faith or with malice is not granted immunity. This statute does not affect or repeal any other penal law of the State of Texas.
Medical treatment of a student who may have been subjected to hazing activities may be reported to police or other law enforcement officials, and the doctor or medical practitioner so reporting shall be immune from civil suit or other liability that might otherwise be imposed or incurred as a result of the report unless the report was made in bad faith or with malice.
Responsibilities of Institutions: Under the statute, St. Mary’s University must publish a summary of the statute and distribute or publish a list of organizations that have been disciplined for hazing or convicted for hazing on or off campus during the previous three years. Organizations and individuals at St. Mary’s University are also reminded that the University has defined incidents and activities that may be interpreted as hazing by St. Mary’s University. These activities correspond to and supplement activities covered by the statute and are listed in the Student Handbook.
Proactive Steps to Stop Hazing:
Providing alternative programming is not the sole solution to rid your organization of hazing. Replacing a questionable activity with another activity does not attack the problem at its foundation. To effectively deal with hazing in your chapter, you should make aggressive efforts to increase:
- Education of your members
- Detention of violations by your members
- Corrective actions; i.e., address problem, tailored responses to an accident
- Positive programming for your members
- Develop organization unity of both new members and initiated members
- Develop problem-solving abilities
- Instill a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood (if applicable)
- Develop leadership
- Educate on the issues of alcohol
- Educate the membership on risk management
If you would like to report an incident of hazing please call the University Police Department at 210-436-3330.
For more information regarding hazing please visit the following site: