New Mexico lawmakers propose anti-hazing legislation
SANTA FE, N.M. — It has been about a year since hazing and sexual assault allegations took down the New Mexico State University men’s basketball team.
“New Mexico was really one of six states that don’t have any type of anti-hazing laws,” state Sen. Harold Pope Jr. said. “This has been a concern for awhile.”
Senate Bill 55 would create the Anti-Hazing Act. It would require all public and private universities and colleges to create a hazing prevention committee to educate students, keep a record of all reported instances of hazing, and classify hazing as a misdemeanor.
Sponsors hope the bill would prevent situations like what happened with the NMSU men’s basketball team.
Two former Aggie basketball players filed a lawsuit last summer accusing three teammates of hazing and sexually assaulting them in the locker form. They also named the former coaches, saying they turned a blind eye.
“We’ve had incidences here in New Mexico, and what’s recently happened at NMSU,” Harold Jr. said. “I think it brought more attention to other folks about it. But I think this has been a long time coming. And I think with what’s happened recently, it’s been an urgency to get something done.”
The bill would also focus on educating students about hazing and holding institutions accountable. It would also require colleges and universities to file anannual report detailing hazing on athletics teams, within student clubs, or residential programs.
“We want to make sure that there’s the education to not only the students, these organizations, clubs, sports teams, but the employees at higher institutions to say, this shouldn’t be tolerated, right, and an awareness. And I think that’s a big step,” Harold Jr. said.
NMSU Dean of Students Ann Goodman says the university has already implemented many aspects that SB 55 would require.
“We applaud the efforts of these legislators to be moving this direction,” Goodman said. “We already were doing some significant hazing prevention programs with our fraternity and sorority life community. Every new member would go through at least an hourlong conversation about hazing prevention, or hazing education and prevention efforts and really understanding what that looked like. We have enhanced that to include all of our athletic teams.”
SB 55 has already passed one Senate committee and will head to Senate Judiciary next.