College Hazing

When does college hazing go too far?

College hazing has long been an accepted part of the social atmosphere at American universities. The band, a sports team, fraternities, sororities — they all boast some kind of initiation ritual, and most are harmless.

But how do you know when it goes too far?

Many students will duck their heads and bear it because they want to be accepted as part of the group, but in some cases, there is something seriously wrong.

Hazing can sometimes be used as bullying when a group doesn’t want an individual to join, but cannot officially refuse membership.

Hazing is often defined as group bullying.

According to a national hazing survey from Alfred University, one in five of hazed athletes were coerced into dangerous or illegal activities.

What should you do if college hazing goes too far?

college hazing

Two drawings depicting college hazing from the 1880 Massachusetts Agricultural College yearbook. CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia

Many colleges have liaisons or advisers available to students. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a dedicated band liaison working to fight hazing in the band. She was brought in after the university marching band was suspended for hazing. Accusations involved alcohol and inappropriate sexual behavior.

Extreme cases of hazing have ended in death, as was the case at Florida’s Agriculture and Mechanical University during an initiation into a band fraternity.

Hazing is common, but more and more schools are adopting anti-hazing policies. For example, The Detroit Public Schools Code of Conduct now states that bullying, intimidating and hazing are punishable offences. Unfortunately, according to some students, it still happens.

Clues that the hazing you may be participating in is going too far include:

  • Illegal activities
  • Unsafe consumption of alcohol
  • Excessive exercise

Consensual hazing is still hazing, and illegal and in violation of anti-hazing rules. Consent may be given because of intimidation and peer pressure, so it becomes difficult to determine real consent from forced consent.

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