To stop hazing, lawmakers must amend Matt’s 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, Carrington’s family sought to eliminate hazing in California.
Carrington’s family was successful in changing the California Hazing Law in 2006. Signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt’s Law classifies some hazing rituals as felonies: those that result in “death, great bodily injury, or great psychological injury,” according to USC Student Affairs.
While Matt’s Law is a step toward justice, it has not lived up to its intended outcome. Matt’s 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 “initiation activities that cause ‘great’ harm” is far too general. This makes it open for interpretation. There is no room for interpretation when dealing with such a dangerous phenomenon. Matt’s 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 Matt’s 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 universities’ 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 Carrington’s memory, we should support the revision and federalization of Matt’s 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.