What is Hazing?
We define hazing as “any activity expected of an individual wishing to join a group (or of an individual wishing to gain or maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades, abuses, endangers, or subordinates that individual, regardless of his or her willingness to engage in the activity. As such, hazing is a form of harassment”.
Hazing can take on many forms and varying degrees of severity.
- Humiliation: This can be as obvious as personal servitude, verbal abuse, performing humiliating acts (sexual or non-sexual), and consuming vile substances. Humiliation hazing can also be very subtle, such as making new members of a group sit on the floor during a meeting while other members sit in chairs, giving nicknames and meaningless tasks.
- Substance Abuse: This type of hazing involves encouraging or forcing someone to consume alcohol, food and other liquids or drugs (legal or illegal).
- Dangerous Hazing: This involves any act that is able or likely to cause harm to any individual, whether intended or not. Examples include restricting access to food, water or shelter; subjecting someone to physical and mental exhaustion or abuse; restraining or confining in any way; destroying or vandalizing property.
Is it Hazing?
If you’re unsure, ask yourself these questions:
- Are participants required to consume alcohol or drugs of any kind?
- Would senior members of the group be reluctant to perform the activities that they ask of new members?
- Does the activity intimidate, or cause some other form of mental distress?
- Does it involve physical abuse, such as sleep deprivation?
- Is there a risk of harm to anyone involved?
- Would you be uncomfortable if university staff were watching, or if the activities were filmed for the local news?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is most likely hazing. If you want to know more about what constitutes a hazing activity, contact us.
Is Hazing Ever Okay?
- Some people think that hazing is okay so long as it is not physically dangerous. But mental hazing can be devastating and is definitely not okay. It can leave lasting psychological scars, sometimes worse than physical abuse.
- There is a myth that hazing is okay if there is no intent of injury. But even if the activity is considered “all in good fun”, if it puts anyone at risk or raises a safety concern, it is not okay. Sometimes, the activity goes beyond the original intentions, especially if alcohol or drugs are involved.
- Another myth is that hazing is okay if the participant ‘agrees’. There may be new members who say they want to be hazed. But generally most do not want to be humiliated, intimidated, or physically abused. They want to belong. And they may be participating because of peer pressure, threats, or because they don’t know what the activity involves. Even if someone ‘agrees’ to hazing, it is not okay.