Hazing can occur across a wide range of student groups, including athletics, fraternal organizations, club sports, intramurals, service organizations, and honor societies, to name a few. According to one national study, more than half of college students who are involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience some form of hazing. According to that same research, while nearly 70 percent of students believe that hazing exists on their campus, 9 out of 10 students who have experienced hazing behaviors do not consider themselves to have been hazed. So, what’s the big deal?
There is a misconception that hazing creates unity and promotes bonding. This is not true; hazing is a form of interpersonal violence. Hazing capitalizes on power and control while decreasing a sense of belonging, trust among members, and interest in continuing involvement. Generally, people recognize that severe hazing, such as physical violence and dangerous use of substances, can lead to death. However, there are many other forms of hazing that, while not life threatening, are still life altering. More than two-thirds of students who were hazed reported experiencing negative consequences (Allan & Madden, 2008). Hazing of any kind can lead to:
- Academic issues
- Sleep deprivation
- Physical injury or illness
- Mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Substance abuse disorders
- Loss of relationships
- Isolation and feelings of hopelessness
Hazing can also lead to significant consequences for those who participate in hazing others, including separation from the university, criminal action, civil litigation, and scrutiny in the media. Hazing others can also cause extreme feelings of shame and guilt, loss of relationships, and damage to one’s personal reputation.
What is Hazing?
Definitions of hazing vary between states, universities, inter/national organizations, and agencies. However, the Clery Center has identified three core components of hazing:
- Group context: Associated with the process for joining and maintaining membership
- Abusive behavior: Activities that are potentially humiliating and degrading, with potential to cause physical, psychological and/or emotional harm
- Regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate: The “choice” to participate may be offset by the peer pressure and coercive power dynamics that often exist in the context of gaining membership
UO's Definition of Hazing
According to the UO Student Conduct Code, hazing means any initiation rites, recruitment and continuing involvement and belonging to an organization on or off campus, involving any intentional action or situation that a reasonable person would foresee as causing mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, or ridicule. Individual acceptance of, or acquiescence to, any activity that occurs during an initiation rite does not affect a determination of whether the activity constitutes hazing. Activities and situations that may occur as part of hazing include, but are not limited to:
- Sleep deprivation or causing excessive fatigue;
- Physical or psychological shock;
- Public stunts or jokes;
- Compelled ingestion of any substance;
- Degrading or humiliating games or activities;
- Activities that have an adverse effect on academic progress;
- Forced servitude;
- Activities which are not consistent with the parent organization's rules and regulations; or
- Other activities which violate federal, state, or local laws or University of Oregon policy.
Signs of Hazing
When you see something happening that you know is wrong, you have the opportunity to step in and help. Hazing can be difficult to see from the outside because it is rooted in secrecy and those who have been hazed may feel ashamed, scared, or guilty. Here are some signs you can look for in your friends, classmates, and neighbors:
- Intoxication and/or overdose following organizational events or activities
- Carrying around random items everywhere they go
- Branding, cutting, or odd writing on body
- New members or teammates walking across campus, or to specific locations, as a group
- Being away from home or residence hall room for days or weeks at a time
- Loss of voice (from required yelling or screaming)
- Performing odd tasks or completing chores for more senior teammates or members
- Being dropped off somewhere and made to find their way back
- Extreme fatigue or lack of concentration from sleep deprivation
- Signs of injury or illness following organizational events or activities
- Physical exertion from unnecessary wall sits, planking, running, or other calisthenics
- Change in personality or increased isolation
- Sudden or increased feeling of sadness and inferiority
Drop-in crisis support is available Monday–Friday, 1:00–4:30 p.m., in Oregon Hall, Suite 185. Support is also available via phone at 541-346-3216 for students who are not located in Eugene. Staff can assist students in problem solving, navigating university policies and processes, and referring students to other helpful resources both on and off campus. Every effort will be made to respect the privacy of students who utilize our services, and information will under all circumstances remain protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the university’s student records policy.
If you have specific questions about university policy, or would like to schedule an outreach presentation for your group, team, or organization, please contact the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards at firstname.lastname@example.org.