Office of Student Leadership and Engagement

What is Hazing?

According to the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention, based out of the University of Maine, hazing is defined as:

any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person's willingness to participate.

In addition, the national organization working to empower people to prevent hazing in college and university student groups, defines hazing as:

any action taken or situation created intentionally:

  • that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule
  • risks emotional and/or physical harm
  • to members of an group or team
  • whether new or not
  • regardless of the person's willingness to participate

Facts about Hazing

  • 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year; 47% of students came to college already having experienced hazing
  • 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing
  • Alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, sleep-deprivation, and sexual acts are hazing practices common across all types of student groups
  • 40% of athletes who reported being involved in hazing behaviors report that a coach or advisor was aware of the activity; 22% report that the coach was involved
  • 2 in 5 students say they are aware of hazing taking place on their campus. More than 1 in 5 report that they witnessed hazing personally
  • In 95% of cases where students identified their experience as hazing, they did not report the events to campus officials
  • Nine out of ten students who have experienced hazing behavior in college do not consider themselves to have been hazed.
  • 36% of students say they would not report hazing primarily because "there's no one to tell," and 27% feel that adults won't handle it right
  • As of February 12, 2010, the number of recorded hazing/pledging/rushing-related deaths in fraternities and sororities stands at 96 - 90 males and 6 females
  • 82% of deaths from hazing involve alcohol

Data taken from the the national study Hazing in View: Students at Risk conducted by Elizabeth Allan, Ph.D. and Mary Madden, Ph.D. from the University of Maine, the Alfred University HS hazing study conducted by Hoover and Pollard, published in 2000, and Information compiled by Hank Nuwer.

The concept of Hidden Harm has to do with the fact that we don't know everything about the newest members of our organizations. We don't even know EVERYTHING about our best friends. Someone who has just joined an organization or team could have a hidden background that would make them highly susceptible to serious repercussions if hazed. Hazing can be physically or psychologically harmful to even perfectly healthy individuals, but mix hazing with any one of numerous issues individuals may be dealing with, and the damage can increase exponentially. (, Hidden Harm of Hazing)

Examples of Hazing

Hazing can encompass a broad range of actions or activities which do no contribute to the positive development of a person; or which inflicts or intends to cause physical or mental harm or anxiety; or which may demean, degrade, or disgrace any person, regardless of location, intent or consent of participants. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Forcing, requiring, authorizing, or encouraging any person to ingest alcohol, other drugs, food, or any other substance which is spoiled, undesirable, unsafe, or unhealthy
  • Any form of paddling, physical abuse, psychological abuse, deception, or shocks
  • Morally degrading or humiliating activities, games or stunts including but not limited to the following:
    • Throwing anything (whipped cream, water, garbage, paint, etc.) at an individual
    • Requiring excessive calisthenics
    • Deliberately creating a mess and requiring any person to clean up the mess
    • Having new members stand in a line and senselessly berating them
    • Audible harassment such as yelling and screaming at a person, calling him or her demeaning names
    • Playing extremely loud music or music which is repeated over and over
  • Any activity which interferes with an individual's scholastic pursuits (class attendance, preparation, study time, etc.)
  • Causing excessive fatigue by not permitting six (6) hours of continuous sleep each night
  • Branding
  • Conducting a new member related activity between the hours of midnight and 7:00 a.m., or awakening individuals during these hours
  • Compelling an individual or group to remain at a certain place or to be transported within or beyond the Wilmington city limits (road trips, kidnaps)
  • Require or compelling any person to conduct or participate in quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, paddle hunts, big brother and little brother/sister hunts
  • Requiring any person to "march" in formation or dress like others
  • Requiring a person to carry items which might be cumbersome or embarrassing; or requiring a person to dress in a manner which might be cumbersome or embarrassing
  • Not permitting a person to talk during an extended period of time
  • Requiring nudity at any time
  • Requiring an individual to perform personal errands (servitude)
  • Preventing any person from practicing personal hygiene
  • Endorsing or encouraging any person's participation in any activity which could be considered hazing

This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. - Dwight D. Eisenhower