Attorney Explains Hazing Law

Washington D.C. - An attorney who represents victims and families in hazing cases says those responsible for hazing can be prosecuted under Virginia law, and civilly sued.

Douglas Fierberg represented the family of Radford University student Samuel Mason after Mason's death in 2010. Mason participated in an alleged hazing incident while pledging a fraternity.

"There are far too many situations where the people who are trying to join the organization want to impress their potential brothers or potential group mates," said Fierberg.

That appears to be what happened with two Virginia State University students, who drowned during another alleged hazing activity. Whether they were willing participants matters not, according to Fierberg.

"It's because so often participation has a level of coercion or has a level of pressure on the individual to want to comply and do what's requested of them in order to become a member of the organization," said Fierberg.

"Being in a student mentality, you can kind of see how those group bonding activities would encourage people to do things to bond them together, but could get out of hand," said Sarah Lindemann a senior at Sweet Briar College.

Lindemann, a leader in several campus organizations, works to educate classmates at Sweet Briar on what activities constitute hazing.

"All of our major traditions are really embraced and cherished, so students really work hard to make sure they stay that way, that they don't become kind of tainted by anything darker or more scary," said Lindemann.

Hazing is a class one misdemeanor in Virginia. The law requires any state supported school to report hazing.