Things to Note When Joining an Organization

Jayhawk Values Logo which includes the values of unity, innovation, inclusion, and engagement.

Stay True When Joining a Group at KU.

Jayhawks embody the values of Unity, Innovation, Inclusion, and Engagement. We also know that you have been instilled with a set of values too. When joining an organization make sure that the desired group also lives by the Jayhawk Values and those of the particular organization. You are are a vital part to make sure our community stays safe.

Look for groups that have these qualities:

  • Appreciates dialogue and questions: Is open to dialogue and the free exchange of ideas with a focus on learning. Answers your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
  • Democratic: Shares decision making and encourages accountability and oversight.
  • Develops its members: Encourages critical thinking, autonomy, and builds skills and self-esteem.
  • Encourages relationships: Will encourage communication with family, community interaction and staying connected to existing friendships.
  • Membership is a choice: You are able to leave the group and still remain in contact with leaders and members if you so choose.
  • Open to change: Will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
  • Positive reputation: You hear and read good things about the group and there is no negative media.
  • Shares information: Discloses information and can offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Will tell you more than you want to know.


Avoid groups that have:

  • Aggressive recruitment: Persistently trying to engage unwanted conversation with door knocks, phone calls, or hanging around your living space can be crossing boundaries even if the approaches are friendly. You have the right to say “No,” and that should be respected.
  • Authoritarianism: The group or leader is always right and has an exclusive means of knowing the truth. Other comparable groups and sources are considered wrong.
  • Deception: A group’s identity, affiliation, and advertising should be clearly identified, with beliefs and practices transparent. Events, surveys, contests, and other recruitment methods should name the organization and its full purpose. For example, you are invited to a pizza party or hike by new friends but it turns into an attempt to recruit you.
  • Hazing: Activities that are humiliating, controlling, degrading, abusive, or dangerous and expected of someone joining or participating in the group.
  • Invasiveness: Attempts to gain inappropriate personal, financial, relational, or emotional information about or from you.
  • Isolation: There is implicit or explicit pressure to not question the authority of leaders, to not date or associate with others outside the group; to lie to or disengage from your family or other community; or to avoid involvement in academics, campus activities, and other groups.
  • Negative reputation: There are first person accounts, records, books, news articles, websites or television programs that document abuses of the group or group leader.
  • Shame: The group shames you if you do not align with the group norms, give money, or spend time with them and you are left feeling unworthy or wrong or misguided in some way.
  • Shunning: Reasons for leaving the group are denigrated and you are made to feel wrong (or even evil) for leaving. You are already involved and do not know how to get out of the group. You feel stuck as others have been shunned when leaving the group.

Materials adapted from Cult Education Institute

Hazing Facts & Myths

The following was adapted from Stop Hazing

Fact or Myth?

FACT:  There is no such thing as consensual hazing.  In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim is not a defense. Even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action, it may not be true consent because of peer pressure, intentional or unintentional threats, and the withholding of information about what will occur.

FACT:  Hazing occurs across the country in athletic teams, performing arts groups, military units, and in other types of clubs and organizations.  It’s not limited to colleges and universities.

FACT:  Read the definition and then ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Does the activity involve humiliation or intimidation?
  • Does it involve physical abuse (e.g., sleep deprivation, calisthenics, ingesting too much water)?
  • Is there a significant risk of injury or a question of safety?
  • Would you invite your parents,  a university official or the UDK to observe the activity?
  • Is alcohol involved?

If the answer to any of the above questions is "Yes," the activity is probably hazing.

FACT:  While there may be severe forms of hazing, any hazing is wrong.  Even “a little” can have unintended consequences for a new or potential member and if it meets the definition of hazing, it is hazing.

FACT:  Hazing can be subtle and have a negative effect on the new or potential member's attitude toward the organization.  Things like carrying pledge books, not allowing new members to enter the house through the main door, lengthy greetings are all subtle forms of hazing.

FACT:  There are some traditions that should not continue and hazing is one of them.  If hazing is meant to teach members about the organization’s culture, the activities should have some relevancy and connection to life in the organization.

FACT:   Hazing is not a tradition to be proud of or passed on to new or potential members. Many people submit to hazing because they desire acceptance by others, are afraid to resist, or feel a need to prove to themselves or others that they are worthy or tough enough (e.g., "a real man"). These motives reflect conformity, fear and insecurity, which are not qualities typically associated with the values upon which organizations are founded.  A positive, educational program will teach the traditions of an organization. 

FACT:   Some hazing victims report that mental hazing was worse than being physically abused. Being yelled at and/or having demeaning things said to or about you may have lasting psychological scars. 

FACT:   All fraternity and sororities as well as the U.S. military prohibit hazing as do many other organizations.  A well-organized, creative program will build community and foster character development without hazing. It takes vision and commitment to run a good, non-hazing program.  

FACT:  Hazing has two forms: physical or psychological.  Psychological hazing includes, but is not limited to, such things as sleep deprivation, creation of excessive fatigue, compulsory servitude, humiliation or being yelled at or called demeaning names.