Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
Hazing occurs on many college campuses. These practices are often carry great risk to the individuals being hazed.
What is hazing?
Hazing is an unpleasant activity or set of activities required for membership candidates (sometimes referred to as pledges) of an organization to complete prior to becoming full members of the organization. In many cases these practices include activities designed to humiliate and degrade the candidates.
What are some common hazing activities?
There are a variety of hazing practices. Some common hazing practices include servitude, sleep deprivation, consumption of non-food substances or copious amounts of alcohol, public humiliation, physical beatings, and sexual assault.
Why do groups practice hazing?
Leaders of organizations that practice hazing may believe hazing promotes cohesiveness of the group, instills loyalty among members, and weeds out individuals who will not make good members.
When is hazing dangerous?
Hazing always carries the potential to cause mental and physical harm. This potential is amplified when the activities are carried out in secret or when alcohol is involved.
Why do membership candidates agree to be hazed?
In many cases, individuals desire to become members of organizations because the perceive it will help them form strong friendships, develop a sense of belonging, or elevate their social status. To reach these goals, individuals will often endure many unpleasant and potentially harmful, activities.
In addition, hazing is often perceived as harmless pranks. Many people do not view hazing as harmful and even encourage others to participate.
What type of organizations practice hazing?
Many differ types of organizations practice hazing to initiate membership candidates. Some common types of organizations that have been found to practice hazing include Greek letter organizations (fraternities and sororities), sports teams, marching bands, and clubs. Many of these groups do not haze membership candidates, but some do.
Is hazing illegal?
Many states have laws that prohibit hazing practices. Check with your state to learn if there are laws that specifically prohibit hazing. Even in states that do not specifically prohibit hazing, some activities involved in hazing may already be prohibited by law.
Are there other rules against hazing?
Many colleges and other educational institutions have rules prohibiting hazing. In addition, the majority of national organizations have enacted rules that prohibit hazing. Despite this, hazing persists at many local chapters of organizations.
What should I do when I become aware of hazing activities?
End your participation immediately
If you are being hazed, the risk of serious harm that could be caused to you is not worth affiliation with any group. The most serious potential risk involved with hazing is death. Therefore, it is imperative to refuse to participate in hazing activities.
If you are one of the group members hazing candidates, you risk causing harm to others and being held criminally and financially liable. This can be true even if your participation is only observation. Therefore it is important not to participate.
Attempt to stop the activity
It is important to stop the hazing from continuing so that others are not harmed. If you are unable to stop activity, leave and seek assistance from campus authorities or a law enforcement agency.
Report the hazing activity
Even if you were able to stop the hazing incident you saw, it is important to report hazing activities to prevent future harm that may arise from hazing activities.
You should report hazing practices to both the college and any national headquarters of the group. If you suspect the activity may also be illegal, contact local law enforcement.
Hazing brings with it the potential for great hazards to individuals being hazed and liability to hazers. The risks of hazing far outweigh any potential benefits. Never participate in any hazing activities.