“55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing.” National Hazing Study
Hazing can be difficult to define. Depending on where you are, there are different laws and polices. All definitions share these common factors:
Hazing activities vary in severity and exist along a continuum. At one end are initiation and group-building activities that do not constitute hazing. At the other end are severe forms of hazing that can result in psychological trauma, permanent injury, or death. In between there are a range of activities that might be considered low to moderate-level hazing.
Below are a few important concepts related to the continuum of hazing.
Where a given activity falls on the continuum is not simply a function of what the act looks like to an observer. That is because hazing impacts people differently. An action that one reasonable person might experience as mildly humiliating might be experienced by another reasonable person as severely humiliating. In other words, when hazing occurs there are objective and subjective realities, both of which matter when assessing the severity of that action.
Certain individuals are more vulnerable to given acts of hazing, perhaps because of past experiences. For example, one fraternity required new members to stand in a barrel while having eggs thrown at them. Objectively, a reasonable person might describe this as a very humiliating act. But the act could also be emotionally re-traumatizing for a survivor who has a history of past violence. A less obvious example involves participation in study hours. If a rookie with a learning disability, who has demonstrated academic improvement when participating in one-on-one study sessions, is forced to attend group study sessions against their will, that student is at risk for a disrupted academic experience.
Some people find it difficult to determine when a given activity crosses over into hazing. If you are unsure whether an activity constitutes hazing, start by examining it in light of Wake Forest University’s definition. You can also ask yourself a few questions:
If you answer affirmatively to any of these questions, there is a good chance that the activity is a form of hazing. If you are still unsure, you can use the report hazing page to assist you in providing information and asking questions about hazing.
Source: Cornell University
“Any activity that would subject the individual to embarrassment or humiliation in order to join a student organization”
“…any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”