Hazing has historically existed in organizations such as fraternities, sororities, athletic clubs/teams, and band. The University of Kansas seeks to provide information, support, and alternatives to these activities to members of these groups.
Harms of Hazing
There are many harms to hazing and not all of them are obvious. While certain activities seem innocent enough, they may endanger a student’s wellbeing. For your consideration:
- Any activity that tests physical strength or courage, if not managed by a trained professional which few college students are, puts new or potential members at risk.
- Having new or potential members of a student group perform calisthenics or other physical activities, such as running or wrestling, may lead to injuries, headaches, heat exhaustion, dehydration, or even something as severe as seizure or coma.
- Having individuals consume large amounts of food or drink, or non-food substances is inherently dangerous. As an example, students may have unknown allergies or other medical conditions.
- Having new members dress inappropriately for the weather conditions or expose them to extreme weather conditions can lead to serious injury.
- Confining someone in an enclosed space or restraining them with duct tape, etc is criminal conduct and can cause severe stress and anxiety. Students may have anxiety issues that are exacerbated by such activities.
- Many college-aged students have pre-existing medical conditions and the stress from hazing activities can exacerbate them or trigger new ones.
Alcohol & Hazing
Hazing does not necessarily involve alcohol; however, alcohol consumption may be a contributing factor in hazing. Forced consumption of alcohol is never good. Implicit or explicit invitations for underage drinking are equally harmful. The psychological pressure to participate in drinking rituals or games can be as real as being physically forced to participate.
Alcohol consumption can impair one’s judgment and this plays a role for both the current member’s alcohol consumption and the new member’s consumption. For the current members it may serve as a misguided excuse for the hazing incident: “we were drunk and things got out of hand.” For new members, besides it being illegal, impaired judgment from drinking can decrease the resistance to engage in risky behavior. When the members of a group that is hazing become intoxicated, they may make disastrous decisions and turn a premeditated act of hazing into a tragedy.
Learn about KU's Jayhawk Buddy System campaign.
What can you do?
silence and secrecy perpetuate hazing
Most people who haze others would not describe themselves as mean spirited people. Rather, they’d see themselves as keepers of the tradition or enforcers of character. They would not recognize themselves as purposely hurting a friend; yet, that is what hazers do. They demean, torment, and humiliate. Most are ignorant of the hidden harms of hazing since they may have been hazed and see themselves as just fine. Hazers need education and if they cannot learn not to haze, they need to be removed from an organization. When you haze, you put yourself at risk of KU conduct proceedings and perhaps civil or criminal consequences.
Involvement in student organizations is a wonderful way to build leadership skills and to gain useful out of the classroom experiences such as team work, communication skills and risk management. As an officer in a student organization, you need to know about risk management. If there is one aspect of student organization practices and activities that is often overlooked or not given enough attention it is risk management. The reality is that student organizations, their leaders, their advisors, and even individual members can find themselves involved in lawsuits for failing to reduce risky behavior or taking reasonable precautions to ensure health and safety. Good risk management can help you design experiences that are developmental, educational, safe, and successful. Hazing is a real risk management issue. Request a presentation/training on risk management.
What Happens When You Report Hazing
You can report hazing, anonymously, confidentially, or personally. When information is provided to KU that hazing activities have occurred, KU follows up with the organization as outlined Organizational Conduct section.