Hazing has been defined as generally including, among other things:
- any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers mental or physical health or involves the forced consumption of liquor or drugs for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with any organization.
- any other act or series of acts which cause or are likely to cause mental or physical harm or danger.
- Mistreatment by playing stunts or practicing abusive, humiliating or abusive tricks that subject an individual to personal indignity, humiliation or ridicule.
- Harassment by enacting unnecessary, disagreeable or difficult work by banter, ridicule or criticism. Some examples of such activities include:
- abnormal or unusual dress holding the wearer to ridicule, e.g. extraordinary headgear, costumes, underwear, body painting.
- performing unusual or abnormal acts e.g., dancing on tables, standing at attention, standing on window sills, etc.
- excessive or unusual physical exercise, e.g., crawling, duckwalk, pushups, situps, skipping, hopping, squatting, etc.
- verbal harassment or abuse, e.g. yelling, making demeaning remarks, etc.
Adapted from Hofstra University Guide to Pride.
New York State Law
120.16. Hazing in the first degree
A person is guilty of hazing in the first degree when, in the course of another person's initiation into or affiliation with any organization, he or she intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes such injury.
Hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
120.17. Hazing in the second degree
A person is guilty of hazing in the second degree when, in the course of another person's initiation or affiliation with any organization, he or she intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person.
Hazing in the second degree is a violation.
In addition to the consequences of violating University policies and state law prohibiting hazing, both individuals and chapters can be sued in civil court for mental or physical harm that results from hazing. Individual group members (and their parents), group leaders, advisors, the organization, and national affiliates may be sued. Hazing on college campuses has resulted in numerous successful lawsuits.
Myth & Facts
Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.
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 pre-meditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and often life-threatening.
Myth #3: As long as there's no malicious intent, a little hazing should be O.K.
Fact: Even if there's no malicious "intent," safety may still be a factor in traditional hazing activities that are considered to be "all in good fun." For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips. Besides, what purpose do such activities serve in promoting the growth and development of group team members?
Myth #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline.
Fact: First of all, respect must be EARNED--not taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation.
Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can't be considered hazing.
Fact: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim can't 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 the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group.
Myth #6: 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. Ask questions, be proactive and seek out resources.