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Bill to strengthen penalty for hazing falls short

A proposal to increase the penalty for hazing will not become state law this year.

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee gave an unfavorable report to the bill Tuesday after hearing testimony from several hazing victims. Among those testifying was Kevin Hayes, a Bowie State University student who filed a $3 million lawsuit in December against the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity for injuries he allegedly suffered while being hazed as a pledge.

The bill would have increased the fine for violating the state’s anti-hazing law from $500 to $5,000. The law also would have made hazing a crime regardless of whether an injury actually occurred, meaning someone who only “created a situation that subjects a student to the risk of serious bodily injury” could still be fined.

A companion bill remains with the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Last year, a similar bill also did not get out of the House Judiciary Committee but passed in the Senate.