A bill designed to toughen penalties for hazing in Pennsylvania was signed into law on Friday by Governor Tom Wolf. The new law will make hazing resulting in serious bodily injury or death a third-degree felony.
Wolf said the commonwealth will now have one of the strongest anti-hazing laws in the country.
“It will ensure that our schools have safeguards in place to stop hazing and its students will have information they need to help make decisions about which organizations to join,” Wolf said.
The bill was created after the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza, who died in February 2017 from alcohol hazing that occurred in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Penn State’s University Park campus.
Piazza’s parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, have become advocates against hazing. At the signing, Jim Piazza urged other states to adopt similar anti-hazing legislation.
“We have sadness in our hearts, every day without Tim in our lives, but are encouraged that this law will serve to hold accountable those who commit the crime of hazing,” Piazza said.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman sponsored the bill, which he introduced this March. He praised the Piazzas for pursuing changes to hazing.
“Their tireless efforts have made these significant reforms a reality here in Pennsylvania that will save lives," Corman said. "This law will be a model for changing antihazing laws throughout the nation with the Piazzas’ efforts leading the way.”
The criminal case in relation to Piazza’s death is ongoing. The new law will not apply to the case.