Let’s Talk About Hazing

by Alison Andrade on November 4, 2013

What is Hazing?

According to stophazing.org, a website that aims to eliminate hazing and all its forms, hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” Forcing someone to drink large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time is a hazing example that is often well-known to college students. While people generally think of fraternities and sororities when hazing is brought up, it also occurs in high schools, college and professional athletic teams, the military, and various social and professional organizations. No matter where it is taking place, hazing occurs due to perceived power differences within a group and can have devastating consequences.

Hazing Myths and Facts

Myth 1: Hazing is just pranks that sometimes go wrong.

Fact: Hazing happens when people who have power and control abuse others. The decision to haze is not an accident, but planned well before it occurs. Very often, hazing is life-threatening.

Myth 2: Someone has to be forced to participate in an activity for it to be considered hazing.

Fact: In states that have laws against hazing (Massachusetts being one of them), if someone is being charged for hazing, he or she cannot defend themselves by claiming that the other person consented to the activity. This is because someone may agree to participate in a dangerous activity, but this agreement may not truly be consent if they are worried about what consequences might arise if they decide not to participate.

Myth 3: Sometimes it can be hard to tell if an activity is hazing or not.

Fact: It is not that difficult to decide whether an activity is hazing or not. Ask yourself whether alcohol is involved, current members of the group refuse to participate in the activity, there is a risk of injury, emotional, or physical abuse, you would not want to talk about the activity with a parent or BSU faculty or staff member, and if you would not want pictures of the activity to be shown in a newspaper or on TV. If you agree to any of these questions, the activity is probably hazing.

Where Can I Learn More About Hazing?

To learn more about hazing, check out the BSU Peer Educator hazing awareness table on Tuesday, November 5th from 10:00-2:00pm in the ECC lobby. Also, on Wednesday, November 6th, Tracy Maxwell, an expert on hazing prevention, will give a talk called “A Conversation About Hazing” at 7:30pm in the RCC ballroom. Stop by these events, and remember:


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