In line with our Core Values and the Marianist Catholic charism, hazing is an act that goes against the ideas of community and family spirit on the St. Mary’s University campus. Not only is this against the law, but the very act and its outcomes are detrimental to the type of leaders the institution strives to mold and develop.
A Summary of the State of Texas Anti-Hazing Statute
The Texas Anti-Hazing Statute [http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.37.htm, p. 77-81] first took effect on September 1, 1987 and was last updated in 2019. The act covers offenses related to hazing at, or in connection with, educational institutions. It applies to both individuals and organizations. Individuals include active members, pledges/potential new members, associate/new members, affiliates, alumni and advisors. Organizations are defined as a fraternity, sorority, registered student organization, association, corporation, order, society, corps, club, student government, band, music group, athletic, cheerleading, dance team or similar group or team that participates in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition, or a service, social, or similar group whose members are primarily students at an educational institution. Thus, this statute covers all registered student organizations, athletic teams, and other student groups at StMU (such as band and departmental clubs). The statute applies to programs and activities both on and off StMU property. One’s consent to be hazed is not a defense to 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 adjudicated by the University must also be referred directly to the Bexar County District Attorney.
St. Mary’s University Hazing Policy
Definition of Hazing: Hazing under the statute, and as adopted by St. Mary’s University, means any intentional, knowing or reckless act occurring on or off campus, by one person acting alone or with others, directed against a student or group of students 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 StMU. The term “hazing” under the statute includes, but is not limited to offenses that:
- subject the student(s) to an unreasonable risk or harm, or
- includes the damage or destruction of private or personal property or the disruption of our community environment.
Specific examples of hazing include:
- Physical brutality, which is whipping, beating, striking, paddling, branding, shocking, placing a harmful substance on the body or other similar activities;
- Physical activities involving sleep or food deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement to a small space, physical bondage or calisthenics or similar activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or adversely affects the mental or physiclal health of the student;
- Forced or coerced consumption of alcoholic beverages or liquor, or consumption of other substances such as food, large quantities of non-alcoholic beverages, or other substances that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or adversely affects the mental or physiclal health of the student;
- Taking of a student to an outlying area and leaving him/her;
- Activities that induce, cause or require a student to perform an act in violation of the Penal Code or the Student Code of Conduct; or
- Involves coercing, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, the student to consume a drug, alcoholic beverage or liquor in an amount that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the student is intoxicated, as defined by Section 49.01, Penal Code.
A person commits an offense under the StMU Hazing Policy if s/he:
- Engages in hazing;
- Solicits, encourages, directs, coerces, aids or attempts to aid another person engaged in hazing;
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly permits hazing to occur; or
- Has firsthand knowledge of the planning of a specific hazing event or has firsthand knowledge that a specific event has occurred and fails to report that knowledge, in writing, to the appropriate StMU official, thereby misusing authority by virtue of one’s class rank or leadership position.
Penalties for Personal Offenses
In addition to any University sanctions imposed (as listed in the Code of Student Conduct), 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. Specific penalties include:
- 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.
- Offenses not causing bodily injury is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not less than $500, nor more that $1000; confinement in the county jail for not less that 90 days, nor more than 180 days.
- Offenses causing serious bodily injury are misdemeanors punishable by a fine not less that $1000, nor more that $5000; confinement in the county jail for not less that 180 days.
- Offenses causing death are state jail felonies.
- Except if an offense causes the death of a student, in sentencing a person convicted of an offense under this section, the court may require the person to perform community service, subject to the same conditions imposed on a person placed on community supervision under Chapter 42A Section 11, Article 42.12, Code of Criminal Procedure , for an appropriate period of time in lieu of confinement in county jail or in lieu of a part of the time the person is sentenced to confinement in county jail. Effective January 1, 2017
An organization commits an offense if the organization condones or encourages hazing, or if an officer or any combination of members, potential new members, or alumni of the organization commits or assists in the commission of hazing. Previously relied upon “traditions” will not suffice as a justifiable reason for participation in such acts.
Penalties for Organizational Offenses
In addition to any University sanctions imposed (as listed in the Code of Student Conduct), an organizational offense is considered a misdemeanor punishable under law by a fine of not less than $5000, or 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 no less than $5000 nor more than double the amount of the loss or expenses incurred because of such damage, injury or loss.
Provision for Immunity
Any person who voluntarily reports a specific hazing incident in writing to the Dean of Students or other appropriate StMU official is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be imposed as a result of the reported incident if the person:
- reports the incident before being contacted by the institution concerning the incident or otherwise being included in the institution’s investigation of the incident; and
- as determined by the Dean of Students or other appropriate StMU official of the institution designated by the institution, cooperated in good faith throughout any institutional process regarding the incident.
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. Immunity extends to participation in any judicial proceedings resulting from the report, except in the case of a person who reports their own act of hazing or reports an act of hazing in bad faith or with malice. This statute does not affect or repeal any other penal law in the State of Texas.
Medical treatment of a student who may have been subjected to hazing activities may be reported to St. Mary’s University Police or other law enforcement agencies, 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.
Definitions of Hazing Activities
The University has defined incidents and activities that may be interpreted as hazing according to the Student Code of Conduct. These activities include, but are not limited to the following:
- Activity that requires the violation of federal, state, or local law or the Code of Student Conduct.
- Allowing for less than eight successive hours per day away from organization activities;
- Any type of personal servitude which is demeaning or is of personal benefit only to individual members;
- Assigning of pranks such as stealing property, painting objects, harassing other groups or scavenger hunts;
- Blindfolding, psychological shocks or tests which may inspire fear;
- Calisthenics or any other forms of physical exercise or abuse;
- Confining individuals in an area which is uncomfortable or dangerous (high temperatures, too small, no or strobing lights, repetitive noise, etc.);
- Disruption of normal hygiene or diet schedules;
- Eating or ingesting any unwanted substance;
- Forced or coerced consumption of alcoholic beverages or liquor either by threat or peer pressure;
- Forced or coerced consumption of large quantities of non-alcoholic beverages either by threat or peer pressure;
- Intentionally messing up areas for new members to clean up; Lineups intended to demean or humiliate;
- Paddle swats, including trading swats;
- Requiring participation in quad beyond normal quad hours.
- Sexist or sexually related duties, tasks or punishments;
- Throwing oil, syrup, flour or any other substance on a person;
- Total or partial nudity at any time;
- Transportation and abandonment, including road trips, kidnapping, walks, rides, or drops;
- Use of demeaning names or slurs;
- Wearing or carrying any obscene, burdensome, or unnecessary article;
- Wearing of embarrassing, uncomfortable or abnormal clothing;
- Yelling or screaming at persons for the purpose of humiliation or embarrassment; or
- Tying or binding or otherwise restricting the free movements of an individual.
Questions regarding the legitimacy or liability of any event or activity or to report a possible incident should be directed to the Dean of Students.
To report an act of hazing, please contact the Dean of Students office at 210-436-3331.
Responsibilities of Institutions
Under Texas SB 38, St.Mary’s University must publish a summary of the Texas hazing law and distribute or provide a link on the university’s website to a detailed report of organizations that have been disciplined for hazing or convicted of hazing on or off campus during the previous three years. This report must be made available to the entire Rattler student community no later than the 14th day before the first class day of each fall or spring semester.
This report must contain the following items:
- The name of the organization disciplined or convicted
- The date on which the incident occurred or the citation was issued
- The date on which the institution’s investigation into the incident, if any, was initiated
- A general description of the incident, the violation of the University’s Code of Student Conduct or the criminal charges as applicable, the findings of the institution or court, and any sanctions imposed by the institution, or any fines imposed by court, on the organization
- The date on which the institution’s disciplinary process was resolved or on which the conviction became final, no later than 30 days after the date the incident was resolved
In addition to being prominently posted on the University’s website, St. Mary’s University must also provide information about the nature and availability of this report to all incoming students during their Zaragoza orientation sessions.
Hazing invstigations were conducted on the following student organizations in the preceding three years prior to September 1, 2019:
- Tri Sigma Sorority, spring 2019
- Sigma Beta Chi Fraternity, spring 2019
- St. Mary’s University volleyball team, fall 2017
- Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, spring 2017
- Chi Phi Fraternity, spring 2017
No student organizations have been disciplined for hazing or convicted of hazing on or off campus during the previous three years as a result of investigations initiated after this reporting law took effect on September 1, 2019.