State Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson, R-OKC, said she’s optimistic about legislation now headed for a conference committee that would strengthen laws against hazing as well as enact campus drinking bans aimed at protecting young people. Wilcoxson is the Senate author of HB 1970 by Rep. Fred Perry, R-Tulsa.
“When a young person goes to college and joins a fraternity or sorority, their parents never imagine their child could be harmed as a result of hazing. We believe stronger penalties could help prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place,” Wilcoxson said.
“We’ve increased the penalties for hazing to ensure a minimum of 90 days in the county jail and increased the maximum fine from the current amount of $500 to $1,500. We’ve also tightened the law to ensure cases can be prosecuted whether the hazing incident occurs on campus or not,” Wilcoxson said.
Organizations involved in hazing incidents would also face stiffer penalties, with the maximum fine being raised from $1,500 to $2,500. The measure would also increase the minimum time such organizations would be suspended from operating at a public or private school or college campus from one to two years.
HB 1970 would also ban alcohol on campus. The legislation would make it illegal to make alcohol available on the premises of any college-affiliated fraternity, sorority or college housing and it makes it illegal for a student to consume or possess any alcoholic beverages while in those facilities.
“Thousands of parents send their children to college every year expecting them to receive an education that will prepare them for life. Alcohol abuse can destroy that dream,” Perry said.
“By addressing the issues of hazing and limiting access to alcohol, I believe this legislation can literally make our campuses safer for Oklahoma’s young people—maybe even save lives. That’s a concept I hope both chambers fully endorse to help us get this legislation to the governor,” Wilcoxson said.