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.

Sources

Guynn, K.L. and Aquila, F.D. (2004). Hazing in High Schools: Causes and Consequences. Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation. 

 Apgar, T., Szabo, R., Sullvian, T.J. Hidden harm: The dangerous impact of hazing on students with existing mental health issues. National Hazing Prevention Week Resource Guide. Campuspeak.
Lipkins, S. (2006) Preventing hazing: How parents, teachers, and coaches can stop the violence, harassment, and humiliation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 

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?

The Bystander

Many individuals want hazing to stop: friends, parents, advisors, students who are being hazed or members of an organization that engage in hazing. Some individuals don’t know what to say or do. Others don't think it's their job or their problem. Hazing isn't an individual or organizational problem; it's a social and community problem. It's everyone’s problem when hazing occurs within a community and it's everyone’s responsibility to help stop hazing.

To play a role in hazing prevention, consider the following steps (adapted from Berkowitz, A., 1994):

  • Recognize that hazing exists
  • Understand why hazing is harmful
  • Overcome the fear of negative consequences
  • Believe that you have a responsibility to act
  • Know what to do
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills to act
  • Take action

The Hazed

There is no way to know how people react to being hazed. Some people might feel positive (as an accomplishment), others might feel annoyed (not necessary, took time away from academics) and others still might have strong negative reactions (experience a re-traumatizing of a past event). People who go through the exact same experience might feel quite differently about it. Just because others feel differently than you does not mean your reaction is “off,” or that you are not being hazed. It is important to talk with members outside of the group; silence and secrecy perpetuate hazing.

It can be hard to want to report hazing even if you want the behavior to stop; you might think things will get better, you might not want to get the group in trouble, you might feel like you are letting other potential new members down, or you might have concern about walking away from an organization after investing so much time and energy. Here are some tips for what you can do:

 

The Hazer

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. 

Consider what other students think are the costs and benefits of hazing and ask yourself, is there a way to avoid all of the potential costs to hazing without sacrificing the standards of the organization?  

 
 

Organizations

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.


Report an Incident

To report an incident, fill out the Incident Report Form.

Request a Presentation

To request a presentation about hazing, risk management, recruitment or other topics, fill out the Request a Presentation Form.

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