TRENTON, NJ - New Jersey college students who are convicted of hazing would no longer be eligible to receive State financial aid, under new legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean.

The bill was advanced today by the Senate Higher Education Committee.

More than 200 students have died from hazing-related accidents in the United States since 1838, and 40 students have died in the past decade alone, according to reports cited by Kean.

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“Our children should never suffer the pain of being humiliated or forced to participate in dangerous activities like binge drinking, just so they can feel accepted by their classmates,”  Kean said. “The numbers do not lie. Half of all students are hazed at some point during their college career. Our legislation sends a clear message: if you engage in hazing, the state will no longer fund your education. Kids are at schools to learn, not to humiliate others for personal gratification.”

A recent study undertaken by two academics from the University of Maine found a number of shocking statistics regarding on-campus hazing. Among other figures:

- 40 percent of students say they are aware of hazing taking place on their campus. More than 20% report that they witnessed hazing personally;

- 82 percent of deaths from hazing involve alcohol; and,

- 55 percent of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing.

Kean noted that the recent death of Timothy Piazza, a Penn State Student and New Jersey native, demonstrates that hazing continues to be a nationwide problem that has severe and fatal consequences.

State Sen. Christopher "Kip"  Bateman is the sponsor of legislation named for Piazza that would upgrade criminal penalties for hazing. He plans to sign on to Kean's bill as a co-sponsor.

“Students, like Tim Piazza, were just looking for a way to make new lifelong friends. He was a good kid. Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a promising young student from your own community lose their life in such a horrible way,” Bateman  said. “We can’t protect our kids when they go away to school, without doing more to combat and deter hazing. Greek life, sports teams, and college organizations must understand that there are serious consequences for participating in a cruel culture that has already taken too many young lives.”