Inslee signs law intended to reduce hazing incidents

SPOKANE — After Washington State University freshman Sam Martinez died from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity event in 2019, his parents became determined to prevent similar tragedies.

One of Jolayne Houtz’s and Hector Martinez’s many goals was met Wednesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Sam’s Law Act. The Spokesman-Review reported the measure is named after their son, an Alpha Tau Omega pledge.

Sam’s Law will expand the definition of hazing and create requirements for colleges to provide hazing education and training to students and employees. It also will require colleges to publicly report findings of misconduct by student groups.

“This bill is a solemn reminder that we can and will do more to educate students on the dangers of hazing,” Inslee said.

The law expands the legal definition of hazing to include harmful acts that take place as part of a person’s continued affiliation with a club, athletic team or living group. Current law only covers hazing associated with the initiation process and does not include sports groups. Hazing, on and off campus, will be expressly prohibited in a school’s code of conduct.

Under the law, hazing education will be incorporated into orientation programs all new students are required to attend. Employees will receive annual training on hazing and be required to report suspected incidents.

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