What is hazing?
Hazing refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades, or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate. In years past, hazing practices were typically considered harmless pranks or comical antics. Today, there is a broad spectrum of what is hazing. The more publicized versions of hazing are typically the more severe, which involve forced consumption of alcohol, servitude, or physical cruelty. On the other end of the spectrum would be the requirement of being forced to do simple tasks to gain the favor of other members such as making members carry embarrassing/ambiguous items around campus or being required to complete obscure, meaningless tasks.
How to know you are being hazed
- The group requires things of you that not everyone in the group has to do
- The requirements are to take priority over all other aspects of your life, including schoolwork, friends, family, relationships etc.
- You are sworn to secrecy about all aspects of the group, including your requirements and activities
- Being afraid of or worried about what will happen if you do not complete the requirement
What to do if you are being hazed
- Maintain a balance between friendships/relationships and the organization. Do not lose contact with friends and family you have outside of the organization.
- Be open about what you are going through. Your family and friends want to support you regardless of if hazing is occurring. They cannot do that without open communication.
- Do not be afraid. You still have control over how you participate. You can refuse to participate. You can leave the group. You can unite and work with other members who are also being hazed.
- Seek out advice from family, friends, healthcare professionals, administrators, advisors etc. They want what is best for you.
- Call 911 if there is an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of others.
- Report the hazing, anonymously if you prefer to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution
Signs of being hazed
- Any significant change in emotions or physical state
- Physical signs include unexplained exhaustion, uncommon substance related hangovers, increased illness, and physical scars/bruising
- Emotional signs include anger, confusion, embarrassment, helplessness, anxiety, and even depression in relation to the organization
- They are secretive about the organization and what is required of them
- A decrease in motivation and self-esteem
Responses to hazing vary from person to person. The feelings can range anywhere from seeing the activities as a personal challenge to feeling a sense of abuse and harassment
How to help someone being hazed
Hazing does not go unrecognized; friends, family, and co-workers often witness the harmful effects of hazing and often the hazing itself. However, the isolation hazing creates makes it difficult for these groups to support the individual being hazed. Here are some suggestions for reaching out to a person you suspect is being hazed and to offer support.
- Show the individual that you care about them and are concerned
- Describe what you have observed (e.g., lack of sleep, changes in your friend’s mood) as sometimes individuals being hazed do not realize they are being hazed
- Encourage and empower the individual to take some sort of action (e.g., leaving organization, reporting organization etc.)
- Validate that hazing is wrong and it is not the norm
- Stay connected; not all individuals going through hazing are ready to take action and need time to process. It is vital that you are still a support as they could need you at another time
- Be willing to approach University staff for advice or to report hazing activity. These resources include: