What is Hazing?
The definition of hazing goes well beyond a list of “forbidden” activities. It’s important to understand that an organizational culture that includes hazing is one that is counterproductive to the purpose and success of that organization.
Most hazing is an attempt to “unify” new members, and it actually does that. But it unifies out of fear or a common bond of “enduring” together.
Treating individuals without respect for human dignity is simply wrong. It also shows a lack of creativity in planning activities that could accomplish the same thing as hazing. It’s about power and control rather than mutual respect, shared interests, and helpfulness. It is most certainly NOT about real friendship.
When considering a list of activities that are considered hazing, it’s important to note that just because an activity may not be on the list does not mean it is not hazing. Often it’s the nature of the activity (the way it is carried out) that makes the difference.
- Would you let the peers, a television show, or your school newspaper reporter see and report what you are doing?
- Would you tell prospective perers what they will go through?
- Would all the parents and family members of your organization be welcome during the activity?
- Would you allow the Class President, the Dean of Students, your School Counselor, or your coach to be present at this event?
- Would you allow interested members of the School Police Department to witness your event?
If you hesitate on any of the above questions, then its hazing!
You should be proud of all the activities you ask your peers to do. Therefore, you should not hesitate to let everyone know.
If you hesitate, that is telling you something!
Remember that there is no such thing as a secret in the student community. It’s usually only a matter of time before what your group is doing gets out! ??And, personal ethics should call for treating others with concern and respect.
Also, we should not want to write, say, or do anything that we would not want video-taped, and shown on the evening news.
What to Do
Often, an individual may be concerned about behavior that he/she knows or suspects is happening in an organization. Could the behavior be considered hazing? Is it “normal”? Is it harmless? What, if anything, should be done?
Here are some signs an individual may exhibit that could indicate hazing:
- Cutting, branding, labeling, or shaving of parts of the body
- Required “greeting” of members in a specific manner when seen on Campus
- Required walking in groups to class, the cafeteria, etc.
- Required carrying of certain items
- Loss of voice due to having to yell
- Performing of special tasks for the members or others
- Required attendance at late night work sessions, resulting in sleep deprivation
- Not coming home for days or weeks at a time
- Not being able to sit down or soreness from paddling
- Physical exhaustion from multiple sit ups, running, or other calisthenics
- Appearance of mental exhaustion or withdrawal from normal lifestyle
- Appearance of sadness or expressions of inferiority
- Withdrawal from normal activities or friends
- Being dropped off and made to find the way back
There is nothing quite so difficult for parents as receiving a phone call from their children describing hazing activities that they are enduring. Inevitably, the students do not want the parents to notify anyone in authority. Despite everything, they want to be a part of their organizations and don’t want anyone to “get in trouble”. What should you do as a parent? The physical well being of your children is by far the most important thing. If you think your child is in immediate danger, call the School Police Department. If the decision is not so obvious, check out “Resources” and “Reporting” on this website.
As a peer, you may observe or have a friend or sibling confide in you about hazing activities in his/her organization. Although it’s tempting to “stay out of it”, it’s dangerous to do so. Even activities that may seem more stupid than harmful can always escalate into something major. Hopefully, you will do the right thing and take action. Initially, that may mean trying to empower your friend to stand up to the hazing and lead others in the same position to stick together. No organization will want to lose all of its new members. Please check out “Resources” and “Reporting” on this website.
As a mentor to students, you are in a position to influence and support those who may be enduring hazing. Reinforcing the values of the organization is imperative. You should volunteer to take the burden of this problem off of the student and reassure him/her that you can handle it in a manner that will not put him/her in jeopardy. Check out “Resources” and “Reporting” on this website.
Because even organizations that haze do not want their members to miss class, you are in a unique position to observe students who exhibit signs of being hazed. Even if you don’t know which organizations the student is affiliated with, that can be determined. As a school official you have an obligation to act. Contacting the Dean of Students for information or to report concerns.
You are being hazed
When you joined your organization you may have had some knowledge that you would be hazed. Maybe, it’s gotten to be more than you expected. In any case, it’s never acceptable, and you should not put up with it. The problem is that you still want to be a member and don’t want your friends to get into trouble. You can always try talking to an older member or an organization advisor you trust. What you can also consider is encouraging the others who are being hazed to stick together. There is no way that any organization wants to or can afford to lose all of its new members. Please remember that you’re not doing anyone, including your organization, any favor by remaining silent. It’s not surprising that hazing activities will eventually come out. The result of that could very well mean serious injury to someone and/or the end of your organization. Check out “Resources” and “Reporting” on this website.