What is Hazing?

HAZING is any action or situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule, and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.

For a more complete list of examples of hazing, please CLICK HERE.

If you are still not sure whether or not something happening to you or to someone else is hazing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents were watching?
  • Would we get in trouble if a school/college administrator walked by and saw us?
  • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Does participation in this activity violate my values or those of this organization?
  • Is this causing emotional or physical distress or stress to myself or to others?
  • Am I going to be able to get a job if I have to put a criminal arrest on my application?

Hazing isn't simple. It's not always black and white. "Diverse Issues in Higher Education" published an article in 2009 that outlines the complexities of hazing.

Part of the complexity of hazing lies in designating the victims. Individuals who are hazed aren't the only victims. Those who stand by and watch it happen and even those who commit the acts themselves are victims.

Hazingprevention.org states that BYSTANDER BEHAVIOR is a critical issue. It is HPO's mission to empower people to prevent hazing. Bystander behavior is what people demonstrate when they watch hazing occur without intervening. If people felt empowered enough to intervene, others would be spared the emotional and/or physical harm of hazing. To learn more,  read Hazing in View from the University of Maine.

The DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAZING AND BULLYING is subtle, which is why they're often used interchangeably. The same power dynamics are involved. The same intimidation tactics are used. The same second-class citizenship issues arise. The only real difference between hazing and bullying is that bullying usually involves singling out an individual at any time and bullying them as a means to exclude them. Hazing, on the other hand, involves including people by having them "earn" their way into a group or onto a team.

Bullying is about exclusion. Hazing is about inclusion.

GVSU's Hazing Policy

Hazing: Defined as an act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or that 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. Participation or cooperation by the person(s) being hazed does not excuse the violation. Failing to intervene to prevent (and/or) failing to discourage (and/or) failing to report those acts may also violate this policy.

Michigan State Law

Page last modified July 28, 2023