In April of the 2011, Representative Joe Wilkinson of Georgia introduced House Bill 659. According to this proposed legislation, any student convicted of hazing would be indefinitely barred from attending any academic/educational institution within the state of Georgia. This bill was proposed long before the untimely death of Florida A & M, University band member, Robert Champion this past November. Champions death has been ruled a homicide and is allegedly connected to hazing activity with the FAMU Marching Band. In light the situation at FAMU and its impact on institutional policy and culture at the Florida land grant university, House Bill 659 has been a controversial conversation piece among many colleges and universities.
The details of the House Bill 659 can be found here .
Representative Wilkinson proposed this act after being contacted by various college/university administrators and personnel about addressing the issue of hazing on college campuses. He hopes that this act will encourage students, parents, and administration to learn more about hazing and current laws surrounding the matter. In the state of Georgia, hazing is presently a misdemeanor. With the passing of House Bill 659, students convicted of hazing will not only be responsible for corresponding legal fines and penalties but they will be barred from attending any school at any level in the state of Georgia.
Personally, I consider hazing a very serious offense. No student has the right to physically abuse or threaten the health/safety of his/her peer especially for purposes of initiation or affiliation with any group, social organization, activity, etc. I am not opposed to the process that many organizations require for membership and I acknowledge that an initiation process and hazing are to very separate things. However I do take issue with what hazing has become. Pranks & mind games have evolved into dangerous and often illegal activity and I do agree that those who participate in such illegal activity should be punished. But, I am not certain that indefinitely barring students from education is an appropriate and/or effective response to hazing on college campuses. President James Garfield was quoted saying
“Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom or justice can be permanently maintained.” I’m inclined to agree. One could argue that this bill is a clear threat to our civil rights as citizens and the (alleged) liberalism that this country was “founded” upon.
My issue lies mainly with the permanence of the legislation. I’m not saying that offenders should not be held responsible I just think that dooming someone to a life without access to education( of any form) is a bit much. These are just my opinions and they are open to your comments and feedback. We grow from these types of friendly exchanges. So if you have two cents to add, by all means, Speak on it. What is your Response to Georgia House Bill 659?