In line with our Core Values and the Marianist Catholic charism, hazing is an act that 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] took effect on September 1, 1987. 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, cooperative, or similar group whose members are mostly 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, 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,
- adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student(s), or
- includes the destruction of private or personal property, or the disruption of our community environment.
Specific examples of include:
- Physical brutality including, but not limited to: whipping, beating, striking, paddling, branding, shocking, placing a harmful substance on the body or other similar activities;
- Physical activities that put students at risk or in discomfort including, but not limited to: sleep or food deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement to a small space, physical bondage or calisthenics;
- Forced consumption of substances such as food, alcoholic beverages, large quantities of non-alcoholic beverages, drugs or other substances that may affect mental or physical health;
- Taking of a student to an outlying area and leaving him/her
- 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; and
- Activities that induce, cause or require a student to perform an act in violation of the criminal code or the Student Code of Conduct.
A person commits an offense under the StMU policy if s/he:
- Engages in hazing;
- Solicits, encourages, directs, 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 (see 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. [JC1]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 (see Code of Student Conduct), an organizational offense is considered a misdemeanor punishable 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 reporting a specific hazing incident, in writing, to the appropriate StMU official is immune from civil or criminal liability. 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 reporting 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.
Responsibilities of Institutions
Under the statute, StMU must publish a summary of the statute and distribute or publish a list of organizations that have been disciplined for hazing or convicted of hazing on or off campus during the previous three years.
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 light, repetitive noise, etc.);
- Disruption of normal hygiene or diet schedules;
- Eating or ingesting any unwanted substance;
- Forced consumption of alcoholic beverages either by threat or peer pressure;
- Forced consumption of large quantities of non-alcoholic beverages either by threat or peer pressure;
- Intentionally messing up areas for pledges 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.
Currently registered student organizations that have been sanctioned for hazing in the last three years include:
- Chi Phi
- Delta Sigma Pi
To report an act of hazing, please contact the Dean of Students office at (210) 436- 3331.