On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the governor approved legislation designed to combat hazing among New Jersey’s middle school, high school and college students.

The bill, S-84/A-3149, was inspired by an incident where a student from New Jersey named Timothy J. Piazza fell down a flight of stairs after participating in drinking games as part of the pledging process for a Penn State University fraternity. Not only were he and other pledges encouraged to drink heavily throughout the night, but the fraternity members did not seek medical treatment for Piazza until the next morning. He tragically died at the hospital.

Under the new law, each district board of education with a high school or middle school and must adopt a written policy against hazing. The board shall ensure that students are informed of the anti-hazing policy, including the rules, penalties, and program of enforcement under the policy. The policy shall also be publicly posted on the district’s website.

Boards of education covered by the law shall provide a program for the enforcement of the required policy against hazing and adopt appropriate penalties for violation of the policy, which may include:

  1. the withholding of diplomas or transcripts pending compliance with the rules;
  2. the rescission of permission for the organization or group, whose student members are being penalized under the anti-hazing policy, to operate on school property or to otherwise operate under the sanction or recognition of the school district; and
  3. the imposition of probation, suspension, dismissal, or expulsion.

The law also expands the activities that encompass criminal hazing, and upgrades the penalties for engaging in these activities.

The new law, which takes effect on March 1, 2022, also applies to nonpublic schools and to the state’s private and public colleges and universities.

Prison-Based Gerrymandering Bill Approved

On Aug. 20, the governor signed A-698/S-3964. This measure requires incarcerated people from New Jersey to be counted at their residential address, rather than the address of the correctional facility in which they are housed.

The new law would affect municipal, county, and congressional redistricting, and the apportionment of regional school district board of education members. The bill builds upon legislation enacted in January 2020, which requires incarcerated people to be counted at their home address for legislative redistricting. The adjusted federal census data as reported by the New Jersey Secretary of State would be the basis for the apportionment of members of the board of education of regional school districts.