Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person's willingness to participate.
 
According to the MSU Student Code of Conduct, hazing includes, but is not limited to, any conduct or method of initiation, admission or condition of continued membership in any student organization which:
 
  1. Endangers the physical or mental health or safety of any student or other person, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest; forced consumption of food, liquor, beverage, or drugs; beating or branding; involuntary confinement or imprisonment; or
  2.  Destroys, vandalizes or removes public or private property. 

Fraternities, sororities, athletic teams, and all other student organizations are prohibited from hazing.

 

 

Hazing Myths

Myth #1

Hazing is primarily a problem for fraternities and sororities.

Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been documented frequently in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or organizations.

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 and degrading, and may be life-threatening.

Myth #3

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 cannot be used as a defense in 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 peer pressure and the victim’s desire to belong to the group.

 

Myth #4

It’s difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing – it’s such a gray area sometimes.

Fact: It’s not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will active/current members of the organization refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they’re being asked to do?
  • Is there risk of injury or a question of safety?
  • Would you object if the activity were featured in the school newspaper or on a local TV news program?
  • Would you have any reservation about describing and justifying the activity to your parents, to a professor, or to the President?
  • Would you hesitate to invite your chapter advisor or coach?

If the answer to any one of these simple questions is “yes,” the activity is probably hazing.

Myth #5

As long as there’s no malicious intent, a little hazing is okay.

Fact: Safety may be compromised by traditional hazing activities, even those considered to be “in good fun,” and even in the absence of malicious intent. For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips. The risks of hazing far outweigh any potential “benefits” of such activities.

Myth #6

Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline.

Fact: Respect must be earned – it cannot be taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. For example, would you respect the person that yells at you or the person that helps you wax the floors for parents weekend? As with other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy, and alienation in an organization/group. It does nothing to bring the group together as one.

  

What are some examples of hazing?

What can I do to prevent hazing in my organization?

These activities have at one time or another been construed as hazing by the courts and/or institutions or higher education:

  • Paddling or striking in any manner
  • Marking or branding
  • Physical harassment: pushing, cursing, yelling, etc.
  • Staging any form of “line-up”
  • Conducting any type of “hell week” activities
  • Requiring new members to practice periods of silence
  • Phone duty
  • Requiring the carrying of items such as statues, rocks, paddles, etc.
  • Requiring calisthenics such as sit-ups, push-ups, etc.
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Preventing / restricting class attendance
  • Forcing or coercing someone to eat or drink against their will
  • Completing tasks in order to obtain signatures
  • Preventing personal hygiene
  • Causing indecent exposureRequiring uncomfortable attire
  • Keeping the date of initiation into the group a secret
  • Work parties / clean up for new members only
  • Scavenger or treasure hunts

Universities are challenged to help student organizations come up with ways to combat hazing. Providing alternative programming is not the only solution to rid your organization of hazing. Replacing a questionable activity with another activity does not attack the problem completely. To deal effectively with hazing in your organization, you should make efforts to increase:

  • Awareness among your members – Use case studies, surveys, news stories, international policy statements, or special national publications that discuss hazing practices to help inform members of the dangers and negative ramifications of hazing.
  • Education of your members – Employ on-campus resources, such as leadership conferences, resource libraries, videos, manuals, or professional staff to help educate members of your organization on ways to address and correct hazing problems.
  • Detection of violations by your members – The organization can be held responsible for the hazing actions of individual members, even if the organization as a whole is not involved. It is important to look for activities and comments that may suggest a member or group of members is hazing other members.
  • Corrective action – Do not overlook any hazing problems you find in your organization. It is crucial that those members who are found in violation of hazing policies be disciplined for their actions. Corrective action should be tailored to the incident, taking the severity and nature of the problem, alumni/ae involvement, environment and any other pertinent factors into consideration. Your willingness to address these problems will help if you are found responsible for hazing by your international organization or the University.

 

 

I am a member of a fraternity or sorority. What can I do if I witness or experience hazing in my organization?

As a member – new or initiated – of a fraternity or sorority at MSU, you have an obligation to ensure that your organization upholds the principles upon which it was founded, as well as to protect your own dignity. MSU and your fraternity or sorority headquarters will be anxious to work with you to combat this problem. It is important that you are completely honest about your situation. If you have witnessed or know about inappropriate activities taking place in your organization, it is important that you notify the following persons or offices:

Other Hazing Prevention Resources