New anti-hazing legislation that was supported by Washington State University and signed into law today is already in the process of being implemented.
House Bill 1751, also known as Sam’s Law, was signed Wednesday at the state capitol in Olympia following unanimous passage in both legislative chambers. It’s named for Sam Martinez, who was a WSU freshman in the fall of 2019 when he died from alcohol poisoning at the off-campus Alpha Tau Omega chapter house in Pullman following a Big Brother event.
WSU staff joined higher education colleagues from across the state in helping lawmakers craft the legislation to make it as effective as possible.
“Washington State University actively participated in the development of this important law,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “We fully support the new requirements and while many of them already are part of our policies, we are enhancing them and implementing other aspects before the next academic year begins in August.”
Many of the new requirements, such as the adoption of anti-hazing policies into student codes of conduct, are already being met by WSU, though it will likely need to be updated. The university currently publicly posts information online about conduct violations by fraternities and sororities as well as pending investigations, a required provision in the new law. The site will be updated to include additional details as required by the law.
Meanwhile, anti-hazing training for students and staff is currently being developed by WSU and will be in-place for the fall 2022 semester. Students are required to complete the training, while the university is required to provide anti-hazing training to faculty and staff.
Per the law, that training will also be available for parents to view. Also under the law, WSU employees with direct ongoing contact with students in a supervisory role will be required to report potential hazing activities to the university.
Part of the challenge in crafting requirements is that fraternities and sororities are private organizations with their own facilities located off campus. As a result of Sam’s Law, social fraternity and sorority organizations with local chapters at Washington universities also have new requirements for transparency. These include notifying colleges and universities when the organizations are conducting investigations and the outcomes of investigations, as well as providing more information to the public about the organizations’ conduct history.
These transparency requirements for private fraternity and sorority organizations are novel additions relative to anti hazing statutes across the country. The entire bill is available to read on the Legislature’s website.
Additionally, while hazing often is perceived as an issue affecting fraternities and sororities, it can occur within any type of organized group and WSU pressed to enhance the scope of initial legislative proposals.
“We are looking forward to broadening our efforts to reinforce that regardless of context, Washington State University prohibits hazing in any form,” Jill Creighton, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said. “We are ready to undertake this work and continue to demonstrate our values and community standards in cooperation with our university community.”