Georgia bill proposes longer jail time for hazing college students

Georgia state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, shows a purple wristband he wore on Feb. 26, 2021, in honor of Max Gruver, a teenager from his area who died in a fraternity hazing incident in 2017. Albers has introduced legislation that strengthens criminal penalties for hazing convictions and requires more public disclosure of such incidents. (Courtesy of Georgia Legislature)

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Georgia state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, shows a purple wristband he wore on Feb. 26, 2021, in honor of Max Gruver, a teenager from his area who died in a fraternity hazing incident in 2017. Albers has introduced legislation that strengthens criminal penalties for hazing convictions and requires more public disclosure of such incidents. (Courtesy of Georgia Legislature)

Anyone convicted of hazing a college student in Georgia could serve up to five years in prison under legislation introduced this week by more than a dozen state senators.

Senate Bill 378 would also strengthen requirements for colleges to report hazing violations on their websites.

The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, introduced legislation last year with similar sentencing guidelines. The bill was named after Max Gruver, a Roswell teen who died in 2017 from fraternity hazing at Louisiana State University. The legislation, Senate Bill 85, was signed into law last year, but the criminal penalties provisions were removed in the House of Representatives.

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“This bill would simply bring back the protections passed by the Senate,” Albers said in an interview Thursday.

Albers said Gruver’s parents support the legislation.

Hazing is a criminal misdemeanor under Georgia law, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine.

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Max Gruver died in a fraternity hazing incident in 2017 at Louisiana State University.

Credit: WSB-TV

Max Gruver died in a fraternity hazing incident in 2017 at Louisiana State University.

Credit: WSB-TV

Combined ShapeCaption
Max Gruver died in a fraternity hazing incident in 2017 at Louisiana State University.

Credit: WSB-TV

Credit: WSB-TV

About 5% of college students say they’ve been hazed, according to some statistics. Most hazing incidents consist of students pressuring classmates — particularly those hoping to join a fraternity or sorority or on an athletics team — into excessive drinking or submitting themselves to physical abuse.

Gruver, who was seeking to join a campus fraternity, consumed 32 ounces of 190-proof alcohol as part of a drinking game conducted by some fraternity members. None of the fraternity members aided Gruver when he fell ill or called 911. One fraternity member was convicted of negligent homicide, and two others pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing.