A lawsuit was settled against a college student, Carson Starkey, who died from being hazed by his brothers in Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He was an 18 year old freshman when he died of alcohol poisoning.
This wrongful death case resulted in the family suing the fraternity as well as Starkey’s “big brother” in the fraternity, Haithem Ibrahim. Ibrahim pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of hazing causing wrongful death. The suit between Ibrahim is settled, however the suit against the fraternity is still in progress.
While this is a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to know the laws behind hazing as well.
Hazing Law In Washington State
- 1. No student or student organization at Washington State University may conspire to engage in hazing or participate in hazing of another.
- Hazing includes any activity expected of someone joining a group (or maintaining full status in a group) that causes or is likely to cause a risk of mental, emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.
- Hazing activities may include but are not limited to the following: Abuse of alcohol during new member activities; striking another person whether by use of any object or one's body; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and/or psychological shock; morally degrading or humiliating games or activities that create a risk of bodily, emotional, or mental harm.
- Hazing does not include practice, training, conditioning and eligibility requirements for customary athletic events such as intramural or club sports and NCAA athletics, or other similar contests or competitions, but gratuitous hazing activities occurring as part of such customary athletic event or contest are prohibited.
- 2. Washington state law also prohibits hazing which may subject violators to criminal prosecution. As used in RCW 28B.10.901 and 28B.10.902, "hazing" includes any method of initiation into a student organization or living group, or any pastime or amusement engaged in with respect to such an organization or living group that causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger or physical harm, or serious mental or emotional harm, to any student or other person attending a public or private institution of higher education or other postsecondary education institution in this state.
- 3. Washington state law (RCW 28B.10.901) also provides sanctions for hazing:
- Any person who violates this rule, in addition to other sanctions that may be imposed, shall forfeit any entitlement to state-funded grants, scholarships, or awards for a period of time determined by the university.
- Any organization, association, or student living group that knowingly permits hazing by its members or others subject to its direction or control shall be deprived of any official recognition or approval granted by the university.