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What Is Hazing And Why You Should Know About It

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90% of students who experience hazing do not consider themselves as having been hazed. This begs for an answer to the question of “What is hazing?” and “What is hazing in a frat?”

While it is true that many students hear of hazing when it comes to Greek life and pledges, it’s important to note that there are acts of hazing that happen in other realms of college, like sports. Hazing is a consequence of tradition, history, and plays on power that an individual may face when becoming a part of an organized group. Just because it’s a recurring theme across college campuses does not mean that it is right. In fact, hazing is illegal in any form.

This is because hazing can have detrimental side effects to those who undergo the treatment. Furthermore, those committing hazing face serious consequences, which could go as far as legal repercussions. If you’re looking to join a frat, a sports team, or other organization on a college campus, it’s useful to understand all there is to know about hazing so that you can be aware if it’s occurring. You can make a difference in protecting your own health, and make sure that your friends are safe.

We’re going to discuss everything you need to know about hazing and why it’s so important to speak up if you or anyone you know experiences hazing.

Girl in a sorority

Photo by Ryan Hoffman on Unsplash

What is Hazing?

The dictionary defines hazing as the “subjection to harassment or ridicule.” In legal terms, Garret’s Law extends that definition to encompass willful acts that happen with or without consent of the victim and may include: physical injury, kidnapping, assault, physical activity that is reckless or can cause harm, humiliation, forced consumption of a substance, force to be in physical danger, etc.

Acts that fall under the definition of hazing can cause:

  • Risk
  • Injury
  • Embarrassment
  • Discomfort
  • Degradation
  • Humiliation
  • Ridicule
  • Potential for death

Depending on the extent and severity of acts of hazing, one or many of these acts may occur during the process.

Why Does Hazing Exist?

Hazing exists as a form of ceremony to induct new members into a group. In college, this happens in sororities, fraternities, sports teams, clubs, and the like. According to researchers, hazing has existed as far back as ancient and medieval times.

Roughly 55% of students who are in sports teams or organizations have experienced hazing. Many of these students take it as it comes and consider it to be an initiation procedure that they don’t have control over.

However, a majority of these hazing incidents include humilation, sex acts, alcohol abuse, and sleep deprivation. What’s worse is that barely any of these intense acts are reported, which means that students undergo such negative experiences without asking for help.

You may be wondering how this could be the case. Authors and experts attribute it to the power of a group mentality, as well as the role of tradition.

Signs of Hazing

Some students are aware that hazing is happening to them, and others may let it go undefined. It’s important to know the signs of hazing so that you can be aware if and when it happens to you, or you can point it out if someone you know is experiencing hazing.

Some signs of hazing include:

  • Cutting, labeling, or shaving parts of the body
  • Required group walks to class or locations around campus
  • Required carrying of items
  • Not coming home for days at a time
  • Loss of voice from yelling
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Mental exhaustion or changes in personality
  • Sadness, feeling of inferiority, or withdrawal from normal activities
  • Sleep deprivation

These signs and symptoms of hazing can stem from these examples of hazing:

  • Requirement to eat spicy foods or consume too much alcohol
  • Humiliation from existing members of the group
  • Isolation of new members
  • Beatings or paddlings
  • Illegal activities like being forced to steal
  • Forced activities to prove one’s “worth” to join the club

Negative Effects of Hazing

The negative effects of hazing can exist long after the hazing has finished. These effects span the victim’s mental and physical health.

Psychological Trauma

Those who undergo hazing may have feelings of self-blame or shame. These traumatic emotions can be long-lasting and lead to depression, poor academic performance, withdrawal from normal activities, and even suicide.

Physical Trauma

Depending on the type of hazing one experiences, there could be physical harm. It could be the case that students are beaten with a paddle or have alcohol poisoning, for example. Physical harm can extend as far as being hospitalized and in the most extreme cases can even cause death.


Hazing is a form of stress. It induces fear, exhaustion, and feelings of low self-worth. When compiled with other forms of stress from the college experience, the effects can be heightened and overwhelming to deal with.

College football team

Image by John R Perry from Pixabay

The Bottom Line

Being ignorant to hazing does not make it allowable or acceptable. While it is natural to feel like you want to be part of a group, it does not have to incur physical or psychological harm to accomplish. You can make friends and join groups in healthy ways.

Despite these facts, hazing continues to happen at colleges around the world, and sometimes, hazing can even take place in professional settings. The only way to stop hazing is to speak out against it and not participate. There is no way to consent to hazing, either, because it is illegal in its entirety.

If you are part of an organization that conducts hazing, then it will take courage and integrity to speak out against such acts and take responsibility for the group’s actions. You could be the voice of reason and agent of much needed change.

If you are looking to join an organization and are being put in a position to undergo hazing, then you must speak up for yourself and set your limits. You may be afraid to seek outside help in the fear of losing the possibility of joining the group, but it’s important to understand that no good can come from the act of hazing.

University of the People