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Hazing is an initiation process – often for social groups such as sports teams, clubs, sororities and fraternities – which forces those wanting to join a group to do unpleasant, dangerous, or demeaning activities to prove their worth, or commitment to membership.

Hazing is often part of the history of an organization, and can feel like tradition, or fun. However, hazing rituals are often extremely dangerous or demeaning. And have very frequently resulted in illness, bodily harm, or death . It’s important to understand that an organizational culture that includes hazing is one that is counterproductive to the purpose and success of that organization.

Some examples of hazing include:

  • Forced activities for new recruits to ‘prove’ their worth to join
  • Forced or required consumption of alcohol
  • Requirement to eat spicy foods, other substances
  • Requirement to endure hardships such as staying awake, menial tasks, physical labor, running while blindfolded, etc.
  • Humiliation of new or potential members
  • Isolation of new or potential members
  • Beatings, paddling, or other physical acts against new or potential members
  • Requirements for new or potential members to do things established members are not required to do  
  • Illegal activities such as requirement to steal local items as part of a scavenger hunt

Most hazing is an attempt to “unify” new members, and it actually does that. But it unifies out of fear or a common bond of “enduring” together.

Treating individuals without respect for human dignity is simply wrong. It also shows a lack of creativity in planning activities that could accomplish the same thing as hazing. It’s about power and control rather than mutual respect, shared interests, and helpfulness. It is most certainly NOT about real friendship.

When considering a list of activities that are considered hazing, it’s important to note that just because an activity may not be on the list does not mean it is not hazing. Often it’s the nature of the activity (the way it is carried out) that makes the difference.

Would you let the peers, a television show, or your school newspaper reporter see and report what you are doing?

Would you tell prospective peers what they will go through?

Would all the parents and family members of your organization be welcome during the activity?

Would you allow the Class President, the Dean of Students, your School Counselor, or your coach to be present at this event?

Would you allow interested members of the School Police Department to witness your event?

If you hesitate on any of the above questions, then its hazing!

You should be proud of all the activities you ask your peers to do. Therefore, you should not hesitate to let everyone know.

If you hesitate, that is telling you something!

Remember that there is no such thing as a secret in the student community. It’s usually only a matter of time before what your group is doing gets out! And, personal ethics should call for treating others with concern and respect.

Also, we should not want to write, say, or do anything that we would not want video-taped, and shown on the evening news.

What to Do

Often, an individual may be concerned about behavior that he/she knows or suspects is happening in an organization. Could the behavior be considered hazing?

Is it “normal”? Is it harmless? What, if anything, should be done?

Here are some signs an individual may exhibit that could indicate hazing:

  • Cutting, branding, labeling, or shaving of parts of the body
  • Required “greeting” of members in a specific manner when seen on Campus
  • Required walking in groups to class, the cafeteria, etc.
  • Required carrying of certain items
  • Loss of voice due to having to yell
  • Performing of special tasks for the members or others
  • Required attendance at late night work sessions, resulting in sleep deprivation
  • Not coming home for days or weeks at a time Not being able to sit down or soreness from paddling
  • Physical exhaustion from multiple sit ups, running, or other calisthenics
  • Appearance of mental exhaustion or withdrawal from normal lifestyle
  • Appearance of sadness or expressions of inferiority
  • Withdrawal from normal activities or friends
  • Being dropped off and made to find the way back