What is Hazing?

Hazing is defined at KU under the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities Article 22 A #2 as:

Engages in hazing of another person for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, or continuation of membership in any organization operating under the sanction of the University.  Hazing includes, but is not limited to, any action, activity or situation which recklessly, negligently or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health, welfare or safety of a person, creates excessive fatigue, sleep deprivation, mental or physical discomfort, exposes a person to extreme embarrassment or ridicule, involves personal servitude, destroys or removes public or private property, or implicitly or explicitly interferes with the academic requirements or responsibilities of a student.  It is presumed that hazing is a forced activity regardless of the apparent willingness of an individual to participate in the activity. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing is not neutral; both are violations of this rule.

Endangering one’s mental health or mental discomfort may look like:

  • Yelling
  • Demeaning names
  • Lineups
  • Kidnapping
  • Blindfolds
  • Requiring embarrassing attire or activities involving nakedness
  • Embarrassing activities (scavenger hunts)

Endangering one’s physical health or physical discomfort may look like:

  • Tests of endurance
  • Consumption of alcohol or non-food substances, large amounts of water or other liquids
  • Exposing members to extreme weather conditions
  • Sleep Deprivation (early morning wake-ups, not allowing naps, specific bed times)
  • “Fountaining” (as admission or membership into a group, students are ‘placed’ in the fountain)

Personal servitude may look like:

  • Cleaning an active member’s room
  • Repeatedly running errands for an active member; including but not limited to, “wake-ups,” breakfast, pick-ups and drop-offs.
  • Carrying of equipment bags
  • For a personal account, read Hazed and Confused (pdf)
Existence of Hazing

A 2008 national study conducted by researchers at the University of Maine found:

  • 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and other extra-curricular organizations are hazed.
  • 47% of students experienced hazing in high school.
  • Hazing occurs in a range of student activities and teams and includes behaviors that are abusive, dangerous, and often illegal.
  • The vast majority of college students do not report hazing to campus officials.
  • College students recognize hazing as part of campus culture.
  • Nine out of ten students who experience hazing in college do not consider themselves to have been hazed.

Hazing has become a widespread phenomenon for students who join groups/organizations that place group members in situations of high risk.  As a parent, there is the very real possibility that your son or daughter has already been or will be hazed as a member of a student group or team.  As a student, you may expect to be hazed and fail to recognize the harms associated with hazing.  As an Advisor of a student organization, you may not know what to do. 

For more research and information about hazing and its prevention visit the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention or College Hazing Facts.

Harms of Hazing
There are many harms to hazing and not all of them are obvious.  While certain activities seem innocent enough, they may endanger a student’s wellbeing.  For your consideration:
  • Any activity that tests physical strength or courage, if not managed by a trained professional which few college students are, puts new or potential members at risk.
  • Having new or potential members of a student group perform calisthenics or other physical activities, such as running or wrestling, may lead to injuries, headaches, heat exhaustion, dehydration, or even something as severe as seizure or coma. 
  • Having individuals consume large amounts of food or drink, or non-food substances, is inherently dangerous. As an example, students may have unknown allergies or other medical conditions.
  • Having new members dress inappropriately for the weather conditions or expose them to extreme weather conditions can lead to serious injury.
  • Confining someone in an enclosed space or restraining them with duct tape, etc is criminal conduct and can cause severe stress and anxiety.  Students may have anxiety issues that are exacerbated by such activities.
  • Many college aged students have pre-existing medical conditions and the stress from hazing activities can exacerbate them or trigger new ones.

For more information about the perceived benefits versus the true harms of hazing, see Cornell's research on the subject.

Source
Guynn, K.L. and Aquila, F.D. (2004). Hazing in High Schools: Causes and Consequences. Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation. 

 Apgar, T., Szabo, R., Sullvian, T.J. Hidden harm: The dangerous impact of hazing on students with existing mental health issues. National Hazing Prevention Week Resource Guide. Campuspeak.
Lipkins, S. (2006) Preventing hazing: How parents, teachers, and coaches can stop the violence, harassment, and humiliation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Alternatives to Hazing

There are many ways to build community and teach new members about your organization that do not involve any form of hazing. You can make the new member process challenging and positive by examining your organizations core principles and values. 

Still not convinced that there are better ways to build unity, scholarship, and tradition?  Consider this: you have graduated from KU and on the first day of your new job your boss puts a pillow case over your head, has you and others stand in a line, yells at your that you are not worthy to be a member of this company, asks you to drink gallons of water, and then tells you that you may not enter the company headquarters through the front door?  Do you feel welcomed, valued, and happy to be there?  It’s time to find alternatives to hazing.

KU offers a variety of programs that can be used for teambuilding. The Adams Campus Outdoor Education Center is a low element challenge course operated by Recreation Services.  The Student Involvement and Leadership Center has a variety of staff that can provide team building activities and workshops

Resources for alternate activities

Stop Hazing

Delta Sigma Phi (pdf)

NCAA Building New Traditions (pdf) Appendix IV, Alternatives to Hazing

FIPG Risk Management Manual (pdf)

Alcohol & Hazing

Hazing does not necessarily involve alcohol; however, alcohol consumption may be a contributing factor in hazing. Forced consumption of alcohol is never good. Implicit or explicit invitations for underage drinking are equally harmful. The psychological pressure to participate in drinking rituals or games can be as real as being physically forced to participate. 

Alcohol consumption can impair one’s judgment and this plays a role for both the current member’s alcohol consumption and the new member’s consumption. For the current members it may serve as a misguided excuse for the hazing incident: “we were drunk and things got out of hand.” For new members, besides it being illegal, impaired judgment from drinking can decrease the resistance to engage in risky behavior.  When the members of a group that is hazing become intoxicated, they may make disastrous decisions and turn a premeditated act of hazing into a tragedy.

Learn about KU's Jayhawk Buddy System campaign, or learn more about hazing and alcohol through research from Cornell University.

What KU Does to Prevent Hazing?
  •   KU provides a comprehensive hazing information site.
  •   Each hazing allegation is investigated by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success.
  •   KU allows for anonymous and confidential reporting of hazing.
  •   Each woman participating in sorority recruitment receives this information during Orientation the day before recruitment events begin, it is also on the PHA     website under Recruitment FAQs.
  •   Each man participating in formal fraternity recruitment receives this information during recruitment orientation the day recruitment events begin, and it is also on the IFC website under Recruitment FAQ’s.
  •   It is the responsibility of every chapter in the four Greek Governing Councils to submit a copy of an agenda or minutes from a meeting or educational program which outlines that they have discussed the University, Council, National Headquarters and state/federal Anti Hazing policies with their chapter each Fall Semester. Chapters must also educate their members on their respective councils Risk Management Policies.  They can be done at the same meeting.  All members must sign a sheet stating that they have seen and understand these policies. Resources with the information on these policies can be found at KU's Greek Life Organizations.
  •   Greek Alumni and Greek Life staff sponsored programming within first two weeks of fall semester about risky behavior, and negative cultural/traditional behaviors.  Some years there is a direct focus on hazing education. Some years it is wrapped into a broader message about values incongruence, being out of alignment with stated purpose of these organizations.
  •   The Sports Club and Intramural Clubs include hazing prevention information in their registration materials and information.
  •   KU Athletics, Inc. provides every student athlete with information on hazing.
  •   The All Scholarship Hall Council provides a training session on risk management for the scholarship hall executive boards each fall; all hall presidents are asked to attend.
What You Can Do

The Bystander

Many individuals want hazing to stop: friends, parents, advisors, students who are being hazed or members of an organization that engage in hazing. Some individuals don’t know what to say or do. Others don't think it's their job or their problem. Hazing isn't an individual or organizational problem; it's a social and community problem. It's everyone’s problem when hazing occurs within a community and it's everyone’s responsibility to help stop hazing.

To play a role in hazing prevention, consider the following steps (adapted from Berkowitz, A., 1994):

Learn more information about bystander behavior (pdf).

 

The Hazed

There is no way to know how people react to being hazed. Some people might feel positive (as an accomplishment), others might feel annoyed (not necessary, took time away from academics) and others still might have strong negative reactions (experience a re-traumatizing of a past event). People who go through the exact same experience might feel quite differently about it. Just because others feel differently than you does not mean your reaction is “off,” or that you are not being hazed. It is important to talk with members outside of the group; silence and secrecy perpetuate hazing.

It can be hard to want to report hazing even if you want the behavior to stop; you might think things will get better, you might not want to get the group in trouble, you might feel like you are letting other potential new members down, or you might have concern about walking away from an organization after investing so much time and energy. Here are some tips for what you can do:

 

The Hazer

Most people who haze others would not describe themselves as mean spirited people. Rather, they’d see themselves as keepers of the tradition or enforcers of character. They would not recognize themselves as purposely hurting a friend; yet, that is what hazers do. They demean, torment, and humiliate. Most are ignorant of the hidden harms of hazing since they may have been hazed and see themselves as just fine. Hazers need education and if they cannot learn not to haze, they need to be removed from an organization. When you haze, you put yourself at risk of KU conduct proceedings and perhaps civil or criminal consequences. 

Consider what other students think are the costs and benefits of hazing and ask yourself, is there a way to avoid all of the potential costs to hazing without sacrificing the standards of the organization?  You may find the answer in alternatives to hazing.

Organizations

Involvement in student organizations is a wonderful way to build leadership skills and to gain useful out of the classroom experiences such as team work, communication skills and risk management. As an officer in a student organization, you need to know about risk management. If there is one aspect of student organization practices and activities that is often overlooked or not given enough attention it is risk management. The reality is that student organizations, their leaders, their advisors, and even individual members can find themselves involved in lawsuits for failing to reduce risky behavior or taking reasonable precautions to ensure health and safety. Good risk management can help you design experiences that are developmental, educational, safe, and successful. Hazing is a real risk management issue.  Request a presentation/training on risk management.

Basic Rights of All New Members

What Happens When You Report Hazing

You can report hazing, anonymously, confidentially, or personally. When information is provided to KU that hazing activities have occurred, KU follows up with the organization as outlined below.

If an organization is charged with hazing, what happens next? The Guidelines for Violations of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities>> detail the results.

 - - - Download and print the Hazing Investigative Flowchart (pdf) - - -

*These steps will be skipped in situations involving immediate physical harm to students; including but not limited to, physical beating, paddling, and forced alcohol consumption.

Organizations at KU

Report Hazing

To report a hazing incident, fill out the Hazing Report Form

Report an Incident

To report an incident, fill out the Incident Report Form.

Request a Presentation

To request a presentation about hazing, risk management, recruitment or other topics, fill out the Request a Presentation Form.

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