Hazing has been used since ancient times as a way to prove a person’s loyalty or as a requirement to join certain organizations. Within the last century, it has become an all-too-common occurrence in fraternities, sororities, and athletic departments all over the country. But with so many tragic stories surfacing in recent years, schools are working harder than ever to prevent hazing and make examples of any student wishing to participate.
What is Hazing?
Hazing is considered “any action or situation, with or without the consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic health or safety of a student.” It typically involves peer pressure that is directed at another student or person by a group, with the intention of “fitting in.”
Not just present within athletic departments, hazing can also occur within military organizations, fraternities, and sororities, secret societies, student organizations, and societal groups. In order to be included in the group, participants feel as though they must be hazed to be accepted. But hazing can have a host of immediate and long-lasting consequences.
The Effects of Hazing and Why It Matters
Hazing can include a wide variety of forced activities that are alcohol-related, embarrassing, degrading, or even physically harmful. For those being hazed, it can have the following effects:
-Instability in physical, emotional, and/or mental state
-Sleep deprivation or sleep-loss
-A decline in school grades
-A decline in quality relationships
-Injury, illness, hospitalization, or death
But the consequences don’t stop there. Students who haze others can also suffer from the same risks, as well as damage to their reputation, media scrutiny, disciplinary action from the school or organization, and even legal recourse.
How Today’s Schools Are Helping to Combat Hazing
Tragedies in recent years, as well as access to social media and technology, has put pressure on schools everywhere to crack down on hazing. Schools have created rules within the organization, prevention programs, and strict disciplinary codes. Not only used as an example for future athletes, athletic departments everywhere are making it clear to their athletes that hazing will not be tolerated.
Just recently, when the athletic department at Colgate University found out that the men’s swimming and diving team was engaging in “hazing and high-risk alcohol consumption,” the entire team was suspended from competitions, as well as the training trip in the winter. In addition, the athletic department also made the student-athletes participate in an education and prevention program. Colgate University is just one of many schools making it clear to their athletes that hazing will be met with severe consequences.
When Dartmouth College began receiving an increase in reports of hazing incidents by students, they hired an investigator to look into numerous organizations related to the school. As an effort to combat hazing, sexual assaults, and a lack of inclusion, Dartmouth has created and enacted a variety of programs, rules, and disciplinary actions. When the school’s women’s swimming team tried to haze first-year athletes, they were all put on probation for an entire year.
Even military organizations are making it clear that hazing and inappropriate behavior is not welcome in their athletic departments. The United States Air Force Academy even has a specialized, investigative unit that caught around 30 players from the lacrosse team involved in varying degrees of hazing just this year. The men’s swim team also received violations for their behavior. And as a result, their actions were placed under legal review and all athletes had been put on suspension or probation. Students who were found to be leaders of these hazing events were kicked off the team entirely.
It’s clear that what was once an “expected” part of college and college sports, is no longer. Hazing and its horrible effects no longer have a place in college, and schools all over the country are leading the way with their strong and disciplined examples.