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Cuomo Signs Anti-Hazing Bill Prompted by Death of Flushing Resident Michael Deng

Michael Deng, a Flushing resident and Baruch College student who died in 2013 at 19 after undergoing a hazing ritual.

August 14, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Governor Cuomo has recently signed anti-hazing legislation introduced by a Fresh Meadows elected official and brought on by the death of a Flushing resident several years ago.

The bill, signed into law on Aug. 13, prohibits certain physical contact or activity in any organization’s initiating ceremony as a way to prevent death or serious injury of students during fraternity pledging ceremonies.

“These hazing rituals are dangerous and reckless with potentially fatal consequences, and I’m proud to sign this legislation to protect college students across this great state,” Cuomo said in a statement. “As we prepare for the beginning of another school year, parents and students alike deserve to have peace of mind that we take hazing seriously and will have zero tolerance for these abuses in New York.”

The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman David Weprin, and was introduced to the floor in 2014 after the death of Michael Deng, a 19-year-old Flushing resident and Baruch College student who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a hazing ritual the year prior.

Deng was pledging the Baruch College chapter of Pi Delta Psi, and was at a fraternity retreat in Pennsylvania when he was subject to a hazing ritual known as ‘glass ceiling,’ where he carried a knapsack filled with 20 pounds of sand and was forced to walk blindfolded as fraternity members tackled him to the ground.

A Pennsylvania court found the fraternity guilty of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, and aggravated assault in 2017, and four fraternity members who pleaded guilty to the charges were sentenced to jail time in 2018. In addition, the fraternity has been banned from operating in Pennsylvania for 10 years.

Assemblymember David Weprin

“Hazing is reckless and dangerous behavior, and we must do everything in our power to protect students from danger,” Weprin said in a statement. “Michael Deng’s death was a horrific and preventable tragedy, and I was proud to sponsor this legislation to honor his memory and prevent future families’ heartbreak.”

Under the law, those who engage in physical contact or require physical activity that creates a substantial risk of physical injury and causes that injury as part of an initiation ritual will be guilty of hazing in the first degree, punishable by up to a year in jail.

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