Local News

Bill would make hazing students a misdemeanor

Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka

Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka

High school hazing would be outlawed under a bill introduced by state Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka.

House Bill 189 (PDF: Full text) defines hazing as subjecting a student to the risk of physical injury for the purpose of initiation or affiliation with an organization. It applies to students from elementary school up through college.

The Sitka Democrat’s bill would make hazing a misdemeanor, unless it results in death or serious physical injury, in which case it would be a felony.

It also requires school districts to adopt policies against hazing and to file an annual report on any hazing incidents that result in suspension or expulsion. Districts already report similar cases of bullying and harassment.

Kreiss-Tomkins, a 2008 graduate of Sitka High School, says his bill is designed to clarify existing laws protecting students, and to bring more awareness to the issue of hazing.

“It’s unconscionable to me,” he said in a phone interview. “Both when I was an underclassman and watching it happen to my classmates, and to a certain extent myself, and as an upperclassman, when I watched my classmates who were once on the receiving end of it, perpetrate it. It’s just one of these cycles that has no place in schools.”

Kreiss-Tomkins says when he participated in high school sports, he witnessed hazing first-hand, although nothing as bad as what his bill would cover.

“Actually, I had well-developed evasive instincts,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “I’m not sure you could ever say I was in the receiving end of it. But my friends were, and I certainly felt intimidated by it, because it was happening to people all around me, and myself. And it would have happened to myself, too, if I wasn’t good at being not in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The measure also protects people who report incidents of hazing. House Bill 189 now sits in the House Education Committee, awaiting action.

Recent News

As dam rises, Sitka moves to temporary water supply

Sitka environmental superintendent Mark Buggins looks over the temporary filtration  plant at the Indian River. Buggins says August is "not the best time" to drink from the Indian River, but "it is what it is." (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)
Sometime in August crews working on the Blue Lake hydro project in Sitka will shut off the old penstock from the dam and connect a new one -- work that will leave the town without its drinking water supply for up to four months. In the meantime, the city is returning to its former water plant on the Indian River, but it’s not a matter of turning a few valves. Because of higher drinking water standards, Sitka has rented a temporary filtration plant -- at a cost of about $1-million per month. more

Restoration program pulls ‘Smokestack’ building from the brink

Sitka Fine Arts Camp director Roger Schmidt and development intern Melissa Campbell discuss the camp's Restoration Internship Program. Twenty-six college students from around the country are working to save the former Sheldon Jackson College laundry, aka "Smokestack Building." Learn more about the Save It or Lose It campaign online. Also, check out a video of the project here. more