University of Arizona officials react to ‘Jack’s Law,’ making hazing illegal in Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A new law going into effect on Saturday, Sept. 24, means people who haze others could face jail time.
Known as “Jack’s Law,” it is named after 19-year-old ASU student, Jack Culolias, who died in 2012 after drinking too much at a hazing ritual to join the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Investigators say he drowned at Tempe Town Lake after falling into the water.
His body was recovered 16 days later.
Marcos Guzman, director of Fraternity and Sorority Programs at the University of Arizona, said the law is a step in the right direction but argues that the law should be federal.
“Typically when someone has experienced hazing themselves, they then replicate that onto someone else because that’s what they had to go through. You have to earn what I earned to be a part of this,” Guzman said. “What I’m hoping is that that helps to remove those types of joining methods and now this will have real causation and effect your professional career, you as a student and you as a citizen.”
Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law in August. The move comes years after being one of the only states without anti-hazing laws.
The bill protects college and high school students against mental and physical abuse, sexual humiliation and other degrading acts that are typically part of hazing rituals.
Under the law, individuals can also face charges for their role in the acts. Punishments can range from misdemeanors to felonies if a death is involved.
Colleges will also be required to disclose the law, and students will be required to sign acknowledgment in handbooks. Before this, laws required public universities and colleges to establish rules and programs.
At the University of Arizona, numerous fraternities have been either kicked off campus or punished for hazing in the past. There have been countless reports of physical abuse, emotional abuse and forced drinking.
Guzman said he thinks people will have to see others be arrested before real change is made.
“I think we’ll see more change over time as the law is used to hold people accountable,” Guzman said. “With the new law we have to teach the students, tell the students, then when unfortunately something was to happen, they see by example someone being held accountable through the law.”
Studies at the U of A have found that a majority of people in the Greek system say they’ve been hazed but they don’t report it.
During National Hazing Prevention Week, parents who lost children to hazing have been speaking to Greek row.
Guzman said officials hope this change will make people feel more safe going through sorority or fraternity recruitment.
“I think it’s very positive and it’s only going to help, but it’s way overdue,” Guzman said.
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