Hazing

Hazing has been used as a rite of passage and/or initiation for many years. Even though it is a violation of University regulations and Michigan laws, it is commonly used by fraternities, sororities, athletic teams/clubs, and to a lesser extent other campus organizations. By definition, hazing is a process that involves persecution and harassment with meaningless, difficult, dangerous, or humiliating tasks. At times, the student who is joining a campus-affiliated organization does not know that hazing is part of the initiation process until it actually occurs. Frequently students do not report the incident and choose to keep it a secret so they may remain in the organization or because of a fear of retaliation. Many students are not aware that hazing is illegal.

What is hazing under Michigan law?

Hazing is an intentional, knowing, or reckless act by a person acting alone or acting with others that is directed against an individual and that the person knew or should have known endangers the physical health or safety of the individual, and that is done for the purposes of pledging, joining, participating in, or maintaining membership or office within an organization, such as a fraternity, sorority, association, honor society, club, service group, social group, or athletic team. It does not matter if the other person consents to the activity or willingly participates in the activity.

What acts are considered hazing?

Hazing includes a variety of acts, such as physical brutality, physical activity, the consumption of substances, and encouraging criminal activity.

What does physical brutality mean?

Physical brutality includes whipping, beating, striking, branding, and/or electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity.

What does physical activity mean?

Physical activity includes sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, and/or confinement in a small space, or calisthenics that subjects the other person to an unreasonable risk of harm or that harms physical health or safety of the individual.

What does the consumption of substances mean?

An activity is hazing if it involves the consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance that subjects someone to an unreasonable risk of harm or threatens that person’s physical safety or health. Forcing someone to drink lots of water or eat certain foods is hazing if the person’s health is jeopardized.

Is it hazing to make someone commit a crime or an act of hazing?

Yes. Hazing includes activity that induces, causes, or requires an individual to perform a duty or task that involves the commission of a crime or an act of hazing.

Can emotional or mental abuse violate the Michigan hazing law?

Hazing that causes severe emotional or mental harm violates Michigan law if the person suffers physical harm as well. Under the University’s Policy against Hazing, however, such conduct is a violation whether or not physical harm occurs.

If you become aware of a student who is the victim of a hazing incident:

Do

Don't

  • Blame the student.
  • Minimize the hazing incident.
  • Agree to be bound by confidentiality.

References