Virginia Anti-Hazing Law

§ 18.2-56. Hazing unlawful; civil and criminal liability; duty of school, etc., officials; penalty.

It shall be unlawful to haze so as to cause bodily injury, any student at any school or institution of higher education.

Any person found guilty thereof shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Any person receiving bodily injury by hazing shall have a right to sue, civilly, the person or persons guilty thereof, whether adults or infants.

The president or other presiding official of any school or institution of higher education receiving appropriations from the state treasury shall, upon satisfactory proof of the guilt of any student hazing another student, sanction and discipline such student in accordance with the institution’s policies and procedures. The institution’s policies and procedures shall provide for expulsions or other appropriate discipline based on the facts and circumstances of each case and shall be consistent with the model policies established by the Department of Education or the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, as applicable. The president or other presiding official of any school or institution of higher education receiving appropriations from the state treasury shall report hazing which causes bodily injury to the attorney for the Commonwealth of the county or city in which such school or institution of higher education is, who shall take such action as he deems appropriate.

For the purposes of this section, “hazing” means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a student or students or to inflict bodily injury on a student or students in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, association, fraternity, sorority, or student body regardless of whether the student or students so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.

Code 1950, § 18.1-71; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 2003, cc. 6267; 2014, c. 627.


Article 4. Campus Safety; Hazing

Adam’s Law

§ 23.1-819. Definitions.

For the purposes of this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

“Hazing” means the same as that term is defined in § 18.2-56.

“Institution” or “institution of higher education” means any nonprofit private institution of higher education and any public institution of higher education as defined in § 23.1-100.

“Local organization” means a group that is not chartered or recognized by an institution or a national organization but is composed of members who are students at such institution and the institution is aware of the local organization’s existence or becomes aware of its existence after a hazing incident is reported to the institution.

“New member” means an individual who has been offered an invitation for membership in a student organization with new members but has not yet been initiated and is not recognized as a full member of the organization.

“New member event” means an official event or gathering hosted by a student organization with new members prior to new members of such organization being initiated into the organization to which all new members and members of the student organization hosting the event are invited or are instructed to attend.

“Potential new member” means an individual who has expressed interest in joining a student organization with new members by signing up to go through a recruitment process for such organization or organizations.

“Student organization recognized by an institution of higher education” means any group or organization on campus, including varsity intercollegiate and club athletic teams, recognized by an institution of higher education.

“Student organization with new members” means a student organization officially recognized by an institution of higher education structured in such a way that upon invitation for membership, individuals do not automatically become members of such organization and have a period of time between invitation for membership and being initiated into membership. “Student organization with new members” does not include any varsity intercollegiate or club athletic team.

2022, cc. 693694.

§ 23.1-820. Hazing prevention training; current members, new members, potential new members, and advisors.

Each institution shall provide to each current member, new member, and potential new member of each student organization with new members hazing prevention training that includes extensive, current, and in-person education about hazing, the dangers of hazing, including alcohol intoxication, and hazing laws and institution policies and information explaining that the institution’s disciplinary process is not to be considered a substitute for the criminal legal process. If a student organization with new members has an advisor, such advisor shall receive such hazing prevention training.

2022, cc. 693694.

§ 23.1-821. Hazing; disciplinary immunity for certain individuals who make reports; requirement to investigate.

A. The governing board of each institution of higher education shall include as part of its policy, code, rules, or set of standards governing hazing a provision for immunity from disciplinary action based on hazing or personal consumption of drugs or alcohol where such disclosure is made by a bystander not involved in such acts in conjunction with a good faith report of an act of hazing in advance of or during an incident of hazing that causes injury or is likely to cause injury to a person.

B. Upon learning of any alleged act of hazing, each institution shall use its disciplinary process to investigate such acts and the students involved in such acts.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the governing board of any institution from requiring access to services to support individuals who receive disciplinary immunity in accordance with the provisions of subsection A, including (i) counseling specific to alcohol abuse or drug abuse, or both, or (ii) inpatient or outpatient (a) alcohol counseling or treatment programs, (b) drug counseling or treatment programs, or (c) both alcohol and drug counseling or treatment programs.

2022, cc. 693694.

§ 23.1-822. Institution reports of hazing violations.

A. Each institution shall maintain and publicly report actual findings of violations of the institution’s code of conduct or of federal or state laws pertaining to hazing that are reported to campus authorities or local law enforcement. Investigations that do not result in findings of violations of codes of conduct or convictions in a court of law shall not be included in the report. The report shall include:

1. The name of the student organization recognized by an institution of higher education or local organization, as such name of the local organization is known to the institution;

2. When the student organization recognized by an institution of higher education or local organization was found responsible or convicted of misconduct pertaining to hazing;

3. The date on which such hazing misconduct occurred and the dates that the investigation was initiated and concluded by the institution or local law enforcement; and

4. Subject to the limitations in subsection B, a comprehensive description of the incident, including the findings, charges, and sanctions placed on the organization.

B. Any reports made pursuant to subsection A shall not include any personally identifiable information of any students involved in the hazing misconduct and shall be subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.

C. Each institution shall update the report described in subsection A at least 10 calendar days before the start of fall and spring academic semesters.

D. Reports required pursuant to this section shall be available on each institution’s homepage and Greek Life homepage, or its equivalent in a prominent location, and a hardcopy notice of the nature and availability of the reports, including the website address where they can be found, shall be provided to all attendees at student orientations.

E. Each institution shall publicly maintain reports for a minimum of 10 years from the date of the initial disclosure of a report.

F. Each institution shall annually update and report actual findings of violations of the institution’s code of conduct or of federal or state laws pertaining to hazing made pursuant to this section to the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at The Pennsylvania State University to update each organization’s national card and provide easily accessible documentation of all hazing incidents and provide additional awareness and easily accessible information on hazing.

2022, cc. 693694.


§ 18.2-55.1. Hazing of youth gang members unlawful; criminal liability.

It shall be unlawful to cause bodily injury by hazing (i) any member of a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1, or (ii) a person seeking to become a member of a youth gang or criminal street gang. Any person found guilty of hazing is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

For the purposes of this section, “hazing” means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a person or to inflict bodily injury on a person in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a youth gang or criminal street gang regardless of whether the person so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.

§ 18.2-56. Hazing unlawful; civil and criminal liability; duty of school, etc., officials.

It shall be unlawful to haze so as to cause bodily injury, any student at any school, college, or university.

Any person found guilty thereof shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Any person receiving bodily injury by hazing shall have a right to sue, civilly, the person or persons guilty thereof, whether adults or infants.

The president or other presiding official of any school, college or university receiving appropriations from the state treasury shall, upon satisfactory proof of the guilt of any student hazing another student, sanction and discipline such student in accordance with the institution’s policies and procedures. The institution’s policies and procedures shall provide for expulsions or other appropriate discipline based on the facts and circumstances of each case. The president or other presiding official of any school, college or university receiving appropriations from the state treasury shall report hazing which causes bodily injury to the attorney for the Commonwealth of the county or city in which such school, college or university is, who shall take such action as he deems appropriate.

For the purposes of this section, “hazing” means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a student or students or to inflict bodily injury on a student or students in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, association, fraternity, sorority, or student body regardless of whether the student or students so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.

§ 22.1-279.6. Board of Education guidelines and model policies for codes of student conduct; school board regulations

A. The Board of Education shall establish guidelines and develop model policies for codes of student conduct to aid local school boards in the implementation of such policies. The guidelines and model policies shall include (i) criteria for the removal of a student from a class, the use of suspension, expulsion, and exclusion as disciplinary measures, the grounds for suspension and expulsion and exclusion, and the procedures to be followed in such cases, including proceedings for such suspension, expulsion, and exclusion decisions and all applicable appeals processes; (ii) standards, consistent with state, federal and case laws, for school board policies on alcohol and drugs, gang-related activity, hazing, vandalism, trespassing, threats, search and seizure, disciplining of students with disabilities, intentional injury of others, self-defense, bullying, the use of electronic means for purposes of bullying, harassment, and intimidation, and dissemination of such policies to students, their parents, and school personnel; (iii) standards for in-service training of school personnel in and examples of the appropriate management of student conduct and student offenses in violation of school board policies; (iv) standards for dress or grooming codes; and (v) standards for reducing bias and harassment in the enforcement of any code of student conduct. In accordance with the most recent enunciation of constitutional principles by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the Board’s standards for school board policies on alcohol and drugs and search and seizure shall include guidance for procedures relating to voluntary and mandatory drug testing in schools, including which groups may be tested, use of test results, confidentiality of test information, privacy considerations, consent to the testing, need to know, and release of the test results to the appropriate school authority. In the case of suspension and expulsion, the procedures set forth in this article shall be the minimum procedures that the school board may prescribe.

B. School boards shall adopt and revise, as required by § 22.1-253.13:7 and in accordance with the requirements of this section, regulations on codes of student conduct that are consistent with, but may be more stringent than, the guidelines of the Board. School boards shall include in the regulations on codes of student conduct procedures for suspension, expulsion, and exclusion decisions and shall biennially review the model student conduct code to incorporate discipline options and alternatives to preserve a safe, nondisruptive environment for effective teaching and learning.

C. Each school board shall include in its code of student conduct prohibitions against hazing and profane or obscene language or conduct. School boards shall also cite in their codes of student conduct the provisions of § 18.2-56, which defines and prohibits hazing and imposes a Class 1 misdemeanor penalty for violations, that is, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

D. Each school board shall include in its code of student conduct policies and procedures that include a prohibition against bullying. Such policies and procedures shall (i) be consistent with the standards for school board policies on bullying and the use of electronic means for purposes 1 7/22/2020 of bullying developed by the Board pursuant to subsection A and (ii) direct the principal to notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying of the status of any investigation within five school days of the allegation of bullying. Such policies and procedures shall not be interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and are not intended to prohibit expression of religious, philosophical, or political views, provided that such expression does not cause an actual, material disruption of the work of the school.

E. A school board may regulate the use or possession of beepers or other portable communications devices and laser pointers by students on school property or attending school functions or activities and establish disciplinary procedures pursuant to this article to which students violating such regulations will be subject.

F. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any school board to adopt policies requiring or encouraging any drug testing in schools. However, a school board may, in its discretion, require or encourage drug testing in accordance with the Board of Education’s guidelines and model student conduct policies required by subsection A and the Board’s guidelines for student searches required by § 22.1-279.7.

G. The Board of Education shall establish standards to ensure compliance with the federal Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (Part F-Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994), as amended, in accordance with § 22.1-277.07. This subsection shall not be construed to diminish the authority of the Board of Education or to diminish the Governor’s authority to coordinate and provide policy direction on official communications between the Commonwealth and the United States government.

H. Each school board shall include in its code of student conduct a prohibition on possessing any tobacco product or nicotine vapor product, as those terms are defined in § 18.2-371.2, on a school bus, on school property, or at an on-site or off-site school-sponsored activity.

I. Any school board may include in its code of student conduct a dress or grooming code. Any dress or grooming code included in a school board’s code of student conduct or otherwise adopted by a school board shall (i) permit any student to wear any religiously and ethnically specific or significant head covering or hairstyle, including hijabs, yarmulkes, headwraps, braids, locs, and cornrows; (ii) maintain gender neutrality by subjecting any student to the same set of rules and standards regardless of gender; (iii) not have a disparate impact on students of a particular gender; (iv) be clear, specific, and objective in defining terms, if used; (v) prohibit any school board employee from enforcing the dress or grooming code by direct physical contact with a student or a student’s attire; and (vi) prohibit any school board employee from requiring a student to undress in front of any other individual, including the enforcing school board employee, to comply with the dress or grooming code.

§ 22.1-279.9. Development of programs to prevent crime and violence

All school boards shall develop, in cooperation with the local law-enforcement agencies, juvenile and domestic relations court judges and personnel, parents, and the community at large, programs to prevent violence and crime on school property and at school-sponsored events, which shall include prevention of hazing. Activities designed to prevent the recurrence of violence and crime, including hazing, may include such interventions as education relating to Virginia’s criminal law, school crime lines, peer mediation, conflict resolution, community service requirements, and any program focused on demonstrating the consequences of violence and crime. School boards are encouraged to develop and use a network of volunteer services in implementing these prevention activities.

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