What Parents Need to Know About Hazing

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Fall 2018

HAZING: Hazing is any action or situation in the course of a person’s initiation, admission into, or membership in an organization that:

  1. Recklessly or intentionally endangers her/his emotional or physical health; and/or
  2. Is intended to humiliate another person; and/or
  3. Destroys, defaces, or removes public or private property; and/or
  4. Is an expectation to maintain or gain membership of affiliation; and/or
  5. Constitutes any other illegal act.

Where is hazing going on?

National research indicates that many students are experiencing hazing in junior high and high school when they participate in athletic teams, social groups, marching bands, and other types of organizations. When they arrive on college campuses, they may expect to be hazed and regard it as a normal part of group membership.

Why do groups haze their new members?

Members of groups often regard hazing as a way of building loyalty to the organization and see themselves as carrying on group traditions. In fact, there are other more effective ways of creating loyalty to a group and the so-called traditions are often very recently created by a few group members.

Isn't some hazing harmless?

There are hazing activities that have very low risk of injury. Examples include requiring new members to: show up at a specified place and time on campus each day and participate in a lineup; memorize facts about members of the organization; run errands or perform favors for members (cleaning their apartments, serving at parties); doing craft projects at a member’s apartment; being required to sleep in uncomfortable conditions with other new members off campus and not being allowed to sleep in their residence hall rooms.

These low-risk activities may be used early in the new member process and are reassuring to new members that nothing really bad is going to be asked of them. Higher-risk activities may be added later after the new member is fully committed to finishing the new member process. The low-risk activities can become high risk when they take more and more of the new members’ time and cause sleep deprivation and interfere with class attendance.

Why should we be concerned about hazing?

Although the members of groups who are hazing are usually nice people who do not intend to hurt anyone, there are risks of physical and emotional injury. One source of risk comes from the involvement of alcohol in hazing activities, which increases the risk of injury to all participants.

New members who are drinking lose the coordination, balance, and perceptual abilities to perform physical activities that they could normally accomplish. Their judgment is impaired such that they may overestimate their ability to complete the required activities. Examples include swimming in rivers or ponds, performing excessive numbers of knuckle pushups, wall-sits, and other calisthenics, and drinking large amounts of alcohol or other liquids in a short amount of time.

Alcohol use by the members who are hazing impairs their judgment such that they may not recognize or may underestimate the risk of the activities. An example is requiring new members to stand outside in freezing temperatures while wet and/or underdressed. Those in charge of the activity cannot accurately assess the length of time in which hypothermia may develop or may lose track of the time that has passed. Paddling can create injuries that are not apparent until sometime after the activity.

Not everyone who is hazed experiences emotional distress, but it can occur because of individual personality and personal history. Some hazing is designed to humiliate new members, and it is impossible to predict who might experience lasting effects. Emotional distress as well as the time spent in hazing activities can have a negative effect on academic performance.

If a student is being hazed, why don’t they just quit the organization?

There are a number of reasons for not quitting. One is that students are told that the hazing will soon end and they believe they can tolerate it for that period of time. Another is that new members may be told that the remaining new members will be punished if anyone drops out. Some groups threaten physical assault and/or social ostracism to those who drop out. Above all, however, the group recruited the student, there are clear benefits to group membership, and the student wants to be a member of the group.

Signs that a student might be involved in hazing:

  1. The student appears exhausted or unwell.
  2. The student wears clothes or has a haircut that they would not normally consider and don’t like (e.g. shaved head, wearing filthy, unwashed clothing).
  3. Unplanned and unexplained expenses/need for money (new members’ dining cards may be taken from them, they may be required to pay for parties or other social activities).
  4. Strange injuries (e.g. scratches to hands and forearms, injuries from falls) or explanations that don‘t make sense (e.g. a broken rib that was supposedly sustained while shopping).
  5. The student is very hard to reach and spends little time in their residence hall room, even at times that they would normally sleep.

What you can do about hazing:

  1. If you think your student is being hazed, ask them about it.
  2. If your student wants to leave the organization but is fearful, be supportive and offer to help them get information. You or your student can contact University Police, Student Union and Activities, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisor, or the Conduct Officer (numbers are listed below) for help.
  3. Hazing is against the law and is a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. We want to hold individuals accountable for hazing and will need your help in doing so. This will include providing us with information about hazing activities and the individuals who are involved.

Phone Numbers:
Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisor: (585) 395-5646
University Police: (585) 395-2226
Student Union and Activities: (585) 395-5646
Student Conduct Office: (585) 395-2122

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR STUDENT WHEN HE/SHE SAYS THEY ARE JOINING A GREEK ORGANIZATION:

  1. What are their letters?
  2. Are they recognized?
  3. Do you know what becoming a member entails?
  4. What made you want to join this specific organization?
  5. Have you checked out all organizations?
  6. What are you going to get out of joining this organization?
  7. Where does the dues money go?
  8. What is the difference between recognized organizations and unrecognized organizations?
  9. What do the brothers/sisters tell you about pledging/being a member? Does it match up with the information on this page?
  10. Do you believe this is going to be a valuable experience; to yourself and to the community?

10 THINGS TO TELL YOUR STUDENT BEFORE HE/SHE SAYS THEY ARE JOINING A GREEK ORGANIZATION:

  1. Choose a recognized organization if you are interested in being a part of Greek life.
  2. Go to all on-campus recognized Greek life recruitment events before you make your decision.
  3. Have a meeting with the recognized Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisor and/or the IGC recruitment chairs before you make your decision.
  4. Get to know other students who want to join Greek life.
  5. Do not join if you are taking a lot of courses, or hard courses.
  6. Have a 2.50 GPA or better before you join a Greek organization.
  7. Make a pros and cons list and give it to me before you join.
  8. Talk to some of your professors about how they feel about Greek life.
  9. Think carefully about the value of recognized vs. unrecognized organizations.
  10. Do it for yourself; not because anyone is telling you to do it.

Last Updated 8/15/18

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