Hazing Definitions

Hazing refers to any activity that is condition upon recruitment, admission, affiliation, or continued participation in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers someone, regardless of consent or a person's willingness to participate. Incidents of hazing can occur in many types of social and professional groups, organizations, teams, and workplaces. It's a complex social problem that is shaped by an unhealthy group culture and uneven power dynamics. A common misperception is that if someone agrees to participate in an activity, it cannot be considered hazing. The power of peer pressure coupled with someone's desire to belong to the group can create a coercive environment--which limits free consent. (could also add threats or intentional omission of details).

Hazing is a CU Policy violation and defines hazing as: Any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the health, safety, or welfare of, or causes a risk of bodily injury to, an individual for the purpose of initiation, participation, admission into, or affiliation with any organization or CU Boulder group. Hazing includes but is not limited to: any abuse of a mental or physical nature, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drugs, or substances, any forced physical activity that could adversely affect the health or safety of an individual, any activity that would subject the individual to embarrassment or humiliation, or any forced violation of CU Boulder policy, and/or local, state, or federal law. The willingness of the participant in such activities are notwithstanding.


Colorado also has laws against hazing.  C.R.S. 18-9-124

  1. “Hazing” means any activity by which a person recklessly endangers the health or safety of or causes a risk of bodily injury to an individual for purposes of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any student organization; except that “hazing” does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions, or authorized training activities conducted by members of the armed forces of the state of Colorado or the United States.
  2. “Hazing” includes but is not limited to:
    1. Forced and prolonged physical activity.
    2. Forced consumption of any food, beverage, medication or controlled substance, whether or not prescribed, in excess of the usual amounts for human consumption or forced consumption of any substance not generally intended for human consumption;
    3. Prolonged deprivation of sleep, food, or drink


Hazing overlaps with health and well-being concerns for individuals, groups, and the broader community with regards to mental health, high-risk substance use, and sexual violence. There is a wide range of behaviors and activities that fit the definition of hazing, the following are selected examples of hazing divided into three categories: subtle, harassment, and violent.

Examples of Hazing

The following are some examples of hazing divided into three categories: subtle, harassment, and violent. It is impossible to list all possible hazing behaviors because many are context-specific. While this is not an all-inclusive list, it provides some examples of hazing.

Subtle Hazing

Activities or behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between new members and other members of the group or team or organization. "Subtle hazing” refers to types of hazing that are often not recognized as harmful behaviors, but happen far more frequently. Subtle hazing typically involves activities or attitudes that breach reasonable standards of mutual respect and place new members on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. New members often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group or team. (Some types of subtle hazing may also be considered harassment hazing).

Some Examples:

  • Deception (such as lies, tricks, or dishonesty)
  • Assigning demerits
  • Demeaning names

  • Socially isolating new members

  • Silence periods with implied threats for violation

  • Line-ups, drills, or tests on meaningless information

  • Expecting certain items to always be in one's possession

  • Silence periods with implied threats for violation
  • Deprivation of privileges granted to other members
  • Socially isolating new members
  • Name calling
  • Requiring new members to perform duties not assigned to other members

Harm to well-being

Behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort in order to feel like part of the group. Harassment hazing confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for new members/rookies. (Some types of harassment hazing can also be considered violent hazing).

Some Examples:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Threats or implied threats
  • Asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
  • Stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude, or humiliating acts
  • Expecting new members/rookies to perform personal service to other members such as carrying books, errands, cooking, cleaning etc
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sexual simulations
  • Expecting new members/rookies to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness.
  • Be expected to harass others


Behaviors that have the potential to cause physical and/or emotional, or psychological harm.

Some Examples:

  • Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
  • Beating, paddling, or other forms of assault
  • Branding
  • Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances or concoctions
  • Burning
  • Water intoxication
  • Expecting abuse or mistreatment of animals
  • Public nudity
  • Expecting illegal activity
  • Bondage
  • Abductions/kidnaps
  • Exposure to cold weather or extreme heat without appropriate protection

If you or someone you know thinks they may be or have experienced hazing, OVA is a confidential and free resource for CU Boulder students, staff and faculty.  To laern more about hazing, like how to prevent it or signs of someone being hazed, visit CU's Dont' Ignore it hazing page.