What Is Hazing?
Hazing is a broad term encompassing any action or activity that does not contribute to the positive development of a person; that inflicts or intends to cause physical or mental harm; which may demean, degrade, or disgrace any person regardless of location, intent, or consent of participants.
Hazing can also be defined as any action or situation which intentionally or unintentionally endangers a student for admission into or affiliation with any student organization. If you have to ask if a particular activity is hazing, it probably is!
“Hazing” refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in that group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.
Today we know that hazing extends far beyond college fraternities and is experienced by boys/men and girls/women in school groups, university organizations, athletic teams, the military, and other social or professional organizations. Hazing is a complex social problem that is shaped by power dynamics operating in a group and/or organization and within a particular cultural context.
Hazing activities are generally considered to be physically abusive, hazardous or sexually violating. The specific behaviors or activities within these categories vary widely among participants, groups and settings. While alcohol use is common in many types of hazing, other examples of typical hazing practices include: personal servitude; sleep deprivation and restrictions on personal hygiene; yelling, swearing, and insulting new members/rookies; being forced to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire in public; consumption of substances or smearing of such on one’s skin; brandings; physical beatings; binge drinking and drinking games; sexual simulations and sexual assault. Taken from www.stophazing.org/definition.html.
What Can Be Done To Stop Hazing?
Alabama State Statute, University of Alabama at Birmingham policy, as well as the policies of all national fraternities and sororities, prohibit students from engaging in any activity that may be considered hazing.
According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Student Affairs policy (SA VII-009), “It is the responsibility of all student organizations to encourage an atmosphere of learning, social responsibility and respect for human dignity, and to provide positive influence and constructive development of members and aspiring members. “Hazing” is an unproductive and hazardous custom that is incongruous with this responsibility and has no place in university life, either on or off campus.”
Individual students and student organizations can be held responsible for hazing under UAB’s Non-academic Conduct Policies. Consult the student handbook, Direction, for detailed information on UAB’s Non-academic conduct policies. It is available on-line at students.uab.edu or in hard copy form through the Office of Student Life, Hill University Center, Room 110.
Hazing is a crime in Alabama. The Code of Alabama (1975) section 16-1-23 defines hazing as:
“ Any willful action taken or situation created, whether on or off any school, college, university, or other educational premises, which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health of any student by any person alone or acting with others in striking, beating, bruising, or maiming; or seriously offering, threatening, or attempting to strike, beat, bruise or maim, or to do or seriously offer, threaten, or attempt to do physical violence to any student of any such educational institution…”
It also declares hazing illegal and establishes conditions of civil and criminal liability. Hazing is also against UAB policy. Refer to the student handbook, Direction, for detailed information on UAB’s Non-academic conduct policies.
Myths About Hazing
Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.
Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes go awry.
Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others – it is victimization. Hazing is premeditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and often life-threatening.
Myth #3: As long as there is no malicious intent, a little hazing should be OK.
Fact: Even if there is no malicious intent, safety may still be a factor in traditional hazing activities that are considered “all in good fun.” For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips.
Myth #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline.
Fact: “Earning respect” may be an excuse for hazing or even agreeing to be hazed. However, victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy, and alienation.
Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it cannot be considered hazing.
Fact: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim can’t be used in defense against a civil suit. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to a group.
Myth #6: It is difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing – it is such a gray area sometimes.
Fact: It is not difficult to determine if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions. Make the following inquiries of each activity to determine whether or not it is hazing:
- 1) Is alcohol involved?
- 2) Will active/current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they’re being asked to do?
- 3) Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse?
- 4) Is there risk of injury or a question of safety?
- 5) Do you have any reservations describing the activity to your parents, to a professor or university official?
- 6) Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crews?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, the activity is probably hazing.
Adopted from Death By Hazing, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 1988
What Can You Do About Hazing?
Speak out against hazing whenever you see it. Have the pledge, new member, candidate or associate class stand together against participation in any hazing activities. There is power in unity. Find members in the chapter that do not condone hazing to take a stand with you. Then:
- Express concern to the chapter president or new Member Educator
- Talk with the Chapter Advisor
- Contact administrators on campus, specifically the UAB Office of Student Life at (205) 934-4175
- Report hazing incidents to email@example.com
- Contact the fraternity/sorority regional offices of national headquarters.
General Statements About Hazing
- Hazing kills, demoralizes, and hurts America’s future leaders
- Hazing is an individual problem that becomes a group problem
- In every chapter there are those who oppose hazing. They are often intimidated into silence by the hazers
- Hazers don’t haze to uphold fraternal ideals, they haze because they like the feeling of being dominant and powerful.
- Hazing has no place in any organization
What Activities Can Be Considered Hazing?
- Striking or paddling swats of any kind
- Phone duty or answering the phone differently from members
- Treasure and scavenger hunts, road trips, etc.
- Requiring calisthenics such as sit-ups, runs, etc.
- Requiring the carrying of any items
- Preventing/restricting class attendance or sleep
- Requiring personal service or acts of servitude
- Forcing someone to eat or drink against his/her will
- Work parties or work duty for pledges, new members, candidates, or associates only
- Preventing/restricting personal hygiene
- Marking or branding
- Causing nudity or indecent exposure at any time
- Physical harassment such as pushing, cursing, shouting, etc.
- Requiring uncomfortable, ridiculous, or embarrassing dress
- Treating a person in a degrading or demeaning manner
- Requiring pledges/new members to practice any periods of silence
- Conducting “interrogations” or any other types of questioning
- Requiring signature books, paddles, etc.
- Theft or defacing property under any circumstances
- Misleading or deceiving pledges, new members, candidates, or associates in an effort to convince them that they will not be initiated, that they will be hurt during initiation or that initiation is anything other than an inspirational and dignified experience.
- “Suggesting” that new members “acquire” paraphernalia from another chapter
- Conducting any type of Hell Week activities or calling any pre-initiation activity Hell Week
- Keeping the date and time of initiation or crossing a secret
- Requiring anything of pledges, new members, associates that is not also required of members
- Telling new members to wear specific clothing
- Having new members run errands for active members
- Yelling at new members
- Requiring only new members to do study hours