The Act of Hazing or Harming Students
Acts of hazing or harming students wishing to be members of, or even existing members of a student organization can have severe mental, physical and psychological harm to individuals. It is also detrimental to responsible organizational development. Finally, it is prohibited at the University of Connecticut.
The following information is provided to educate student organization leaders about hazing and harming students associated with your organization and to provide alternative ways to build group identity, foster unity, and encourage the development of committed members.
Table of Contents
CONNECTICUT HAZING LAW
Title 53. Crimes
Chapter 939. Offenses Against The Person
Sec. 53-23a. Hazing
a. For purposes of this section:
1. “Hazing” means any action which recklessly or intentionally endangers the health or safety of a person for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a student organization. The term shall include, but not be limited to:
A. Requiring indecent exposure of the body;
B. Requiring any activity that would subject the person to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation or extended isolation from social contact;
C. Confinement of the person to unreasonably small, unventilated, unsanitary or unlighted areas; D. Any assault upon the person; or
E. Requiring the ingestion of any substance or any other physical activity which could adversely affect the health or safety of the individual. The term shall not include an action sponsored by an institution of higher education which requires any athletic practice, conditioning, or competition or curricular activity.
b. No student organization or member of a student organization shall engage in hazing any member or person pledged to be a member of the organization. The implied or express consent of the victim shall not be a defense in any action brought under this section.
c. A student organization which violates subsection (b) of this section (1) shall be subject to a fine of not more than one thousand five hundred dollars and (2) shall forfeit for a period of not less than one year all of the rights and privileges of being an organization organized or operating at an institution of higher education.
d. A member of a student organization who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT HAZING STATEMENT
Hazing in any form is prohibited at the University of Connecticut.
Hazing, defined as an act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or which destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization. The express or implied consent of the victim will not be a defense. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts; they are violations of this rule.
– Responsibilities of Community Life: The Student Code (Part III.B.)
SANCTIONS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
In cases of individual violators, appropriate student conduct action may be imposed as outlined in Responsibilities of Community Life: The Student Code. In cases where organizations have been involved in such conduct, loss of privileges, temporary suspension of registration, or termination of registration may be imposed. The Student Code is the University’s process for dealing with complaints within the community. Individuals and/or organizations may also be subject to the actions of local, state, or federal police agencies.
SOME EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE HAZING/HARMFUL ACTIVITIES
At no time should you be made to feel awkward, embarrassed, or fearful of your safety. You have the right to refuse to participate in any questionable activity and you have the right to notify police officers, University officials, and organization advisors if you are asked to participate in any inappropriate activity. The University community will not tolerate hazing.
Certain behaviors are considered hazing if they are expected in order to become or feel like a member of a group and meet the other criteria in the above definition. Some examples of common hazing practices are listed below. However, NOT ALL HAZING activities are listed here.
- Forced or coerced consumption of alcohol
- Being yelled at or cursed at by other members of the team or group
- Sleep deprivation
- Ingestion of vile substances
- Being required to associate with certain people and not others
- Forced or coerced shaving of heads or other body parts
- Personal servitude
- Being forced or coerced to inflict violence on someone
- Be whipped, kicked, or beaten
- Being paddled
- Simulated sex acts
- Perform sex acts
- Public nudity
- Make prank phone calls
- Forced or coerced to harass others
- Forced or coerced to make ethnic/racial/gendered/sexual orientation related slurs, mocking or harassment
- Wear embarrassing clothing
- Deprive self of regular hygiene practices (e.g., brushing teeth, bathing/showering)
- Destroy or steal property
- Cheat or help others cheat on academic work
- “Drop-offs” or “dumps” in unfamiliar locations
- Humiliating “kangaroo courts” or mock trials
- Lock-ups or being confined to small spaces
- Being duct taped or some other physical restraints
- Sacrificing or injuring animals
- Burning skin
ALTERNATIVES TO HAZING
Sometimes, organizations that haze new members are confused about how to change these practices. There are many creative ways to change from a hazing to a non-hazing organization. The following are some specific examples of ways to eliminate hazing and make membership a challenging but positive experience:
When organizations are challenged to eliminate hazing practices, some members are often resistant to this change. In many cases, those who are most vocal against eliminating hazing are those who are bitter and angry about the hazing that they themselves endured (but don’t admit this publicly) and expect that others should be abused in order to gain “true” membership in the group. You will also find that some of these folks are likely to be bullies of the group–people who enjoy a “power trip” at the expense of someone else.
Of course, if you try to eliminate hazing in your organization, you will likely encounter many elaborate reasons for why this will be devastating for your group. While there will be some staunch supporters of the status quo, there will be many who can be convinced of the negative effects and potential risks of hazing. Believers in the supposed “benefits” of hazing may be more likely to change their opinion if they can envision some alternatives. The supposed “benefits” of hazing follow in bold with non-hazing alternatives to accomplish the same goal listed alongside.
1. FOSTER UNITY: Have the members of your group/organization work together on a community service project. Visit a ropes course to work on group cohesiveness, communication and leadership skills. In organizations sharing a ‘chapter house’, the group might work together on a chapter room improvement project. Another option for fostering unity without hazing is for the members to work together to plan a social or athletic event with another group.
2. DEVELOP PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITIES: Have ‘pledges’ discuss chapter weaknesses such as poor recruitment, apathy, and poor scholarship, and plan solutions that the organization might then adopt.
3. DEVELOP LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Encourage participation in school/campus activities outside of the organization. Encourage new members to get involved in organizational committees and/or leadership roles. Develop a peer mentor program within your group for leadership roles. Invite school/community/business leaders into the organization to share their experiences.
4. INSTILL A SENSE OF MEMBERSHIP: Plan special events when the entire chapter gets together to attend a movie, play, or church service. Plan a “membership circle” when actives and ‘pledges’ participate in a candlelight service in which each person has a chance to express what membership means to them.
5. PROMOTE SCHOLARSHIP: Take advantage of your school/college/ university academic and tutoring services. Designate study hours for members of your organization. Invite college/university or community experts to discuss test-taking skills, study methods, time management etc.
6. BUILD AWARENESS OF ORGANIZATION HISTORY: Invite an older member to talk about the organization’s early days, its founding, special traditions, and prominent former members.
7. AID CAREER GOALS: Use college resources for seminars on resume writing, job interview skills; various careers.
8. INVOLVE MEMBERS IN THE COMMUNITY: Get involved with campus and community service projects. Plan fund-raisers for local charitable organizations.
9. IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS: Encourage new members to plan social or service projects with the new members of other organizations; work together to plan joint social or service activities.
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Report A Hazing or Harmful Incident
If you feel you have been hazed or harmed, or you have seen or know of a hazing/harmful incident, you are encouraged to report the incident using our on-line form.