Gov. Jim Justice vetoed the anti-hazing bill on Wednesday after it passed unanimously in the Senate and was approved by three-fourths of the House of Delegates.
“I applaud the Legislature for tackling the issue of hazing at our universities, however the language included in this bill is overly broad and encompasses numerous organizations outside of the higher education community,” Justice said in a message published in MetroNews after the announcement of his veto.
WVU made the bill one of its foremost priorities this legislative session, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop told the DA in December. It would have amended the state’s anti-hazing code to include organizations outside a university or college that included students.
“For example, the following broad language appearing in the definitions of the bill: 'any organization whose members include students of an institution of higher education,' could include organizations such as the West Virginia Legislature or the American Civil Liberties Union, if any of their members were enrolled in classes at an institution of higher education in the state," Justice wrote.
WVU spokesperson April Kaull wrote in an email Friday the University will try to tighten up the bill for an upcoming legislative session.
“We are pleased that the bill passed the Legislature and that Gov. Justice recognizes the need to tackle instances of hazing. However we understand the governor’s concerns and will be working on this legislation in the future,” she wrote.
The state’s current anti-hazing law allows institutions to create and enforce their own rules and penalties if any instances of hazing occurs to a student in an affiliated group.
WVU had five fraternities disassociate this year: Kappa Alpha, Sigma Chi, Phi Sigma Kappa, Theta Chi and Alpha Sigma Phi. Alsop told the DA the University was lobbying for the bill to hold the disassociated fraternities accountable if a hazing incident were to occur in one of the organizations.