Letter to the editor
To stop hazing, lawmakers must amend Mattâs Law.
On Feb. 2, 2005, a young college student by the name of Matt Carrington died as a direct result of a hazing ritual at Chico State University in Chico, Calif. Following his death, Carringtonâs family sought to eliminate hazing in California.
Carringtonâs family was successful in changing the California Hazing Law in 2006. Signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mattâs Law classifies some hazing rituals as felonies: those that result in âdeath, great bodily injury, or great psychological injury,â according to USC Student Affairs.
While Mattâs Law is a step toward justice, it has not lived up to its intended outcome. Mattâs Law should be corrected and then federalized, as a step toward achieving true justice for Carrington.
First, the law should classify all hazing activities as felonies. As it stands, the current classification of felony hazing as âinitiation activities that cause âgreatâ harmâ is far too general. This makes it open for interpretation. There is no room for interpretation when dealing with such a dangerous phenomenon. Mattâs Law should also list strict guidelines specifying which fraternity initiation activities are legal and do not count as hazing.
Second, the law should be revised to include mandatory monitoring of initiation processes based on the aforementioned criteria. This monitoring should be conducted by a responsible university faculty member who is hired to oversee initiation processes.
Third, college campuses should mandate that all existing and prospective fraternity brothers take a workshop on the physical and psychological dangers of hazing prior to the beginning of the initiation process. The workshop should inform pledging students of their rights under Mattâs Law.
Through these revisions, it is likely that incentive to adhere to the law will rise. If proven successful on a state level, the revised law should be federalized and applied on a national level.
The Greek system at USC and those across the nation are valuable to our universitiesâ histories and cultures; at its best, it can foster friendship, community service and leadership. Hazing is antithetical to these values. It is a phenomenon rooted in the uglier side of human nature.
In Carringtonâs memory, we should support the revision and federalization of Mattâs Law to once and for all correct the ill in a system that should be upheld for its otherwise socially stimulating, character-shaping and rewarding benefits.