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Hazing and Student Organizations

Read about hazing policies at UCSD and how to report hazing incidents.

What is hazing?

Hazing is any form of initiation into a campus organization that causes, or is likely to cause, physical injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in psychological harm to any student or other person. Common examples of hazing include:

  • Requiring new members to perform duties not assigned to other members
  • Physical abuse including paddling, beating, tattooing, pushing, hitting, physical threats, exposure to the elements, or other physical harm
  • Participating in personally degrading or humiliating games or activities
  • Member ditches, kidnaps, road trips, scavenger hunts, or similar activities
  • Creation of extensive fatigue or forced or coerced participation in calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups, running, and other fatiguing activities
  • Physical or psychological shocks
  • Required (explicit or implicit) participation in quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips, or any such activities
  • Wearing publicly, apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste, or requiring shaved hair
  • Public nudity
  • Engaging in public stunts or buffoonery
  • Morally degrading or humiliating games and activities
  • Late work sessions or activities that interfere with scholastic activities, including exhausting and time consuming projects that are too disruptive to normal study patterns
  • Tasks of personal servitude
  • Physical disfigurements (temporary or permanent) including tattooing or branding (simulated or actual)
  • Deprivation of normal sleep
  • Memorization of information not explicitly required by the national new member process
  • Forced, required, or coerced consumption of any food, liquid or other substance
  • Any dangerous activity including, but not limited to long swims, jumps from high places, binding, and blindfolding 
  • Requiring the carrying of objects, such as bricks, buckets, or large objects
  • Required participation in public acts, skits, or songs for the purpose of humiliation or embarrassment
  • Any activity considered morally offensive by an individual participating
  • Intentionally creating clean-up work
  • Confining participants to rooms or areas that are uncomfortable due to temperature, noise, size, or air quality for the purpose of harassment
  • Any activity without constructive aspect or reasonable purpose, including but not limited to "line-ups," "rat courts," mock trials, interrogations, yelling of obscenities, or votes of continuance not consistent with the national constitution of, or sanctioned by the national fraternity or sorority
  • Any other activity which is not consistent with the fraternal law, ritual, or policy and/ or University Policies.

An activity is considered hazing even if it does not cause physical harm. Degrading and humiliating activities are also considered hazing.

Who commits hazing on college campuses?

Hazing is commonly portrayed in the movies as an activity of Greek fraternities and sororities. Hazing also occurs in intercollegiate athletics, sports clubs, religious clubs, marching bands, professional clubs, multicultural organizations, and other types of groups.

Why hazing persists on college campuses

Organizations are sometimes unaware that their initiation activities are actually hazing. Initiates may be hesitant to question such activities, which are often handed down by older members. The group may offset concerns about possible harm with the belief that they are fostering loyalty and bonding. No matter what group members believe, no one should ever be subjected to hazing.

How can an organization determine if its activities count as hazing?

To determine if activities are possibly harmful, organizations should consider how acceptable they would be from the perspective of the broader community. The "publicity test" asks the following questions:

  • Would you let the campus newspaper or a local TV station cover your initiation activities?
  • Would you be comfortable describing your activities to your parents, a professor, psychologist, or university chancellor?

If the answer to these questions is "No," your activities are most likely hazing. When in doubt, check with your organization's advisor or coach.

Sanctions for hazing

Hazing is a violation of both the UCSD Conduct Code and California law, whether the alleged activities occured on campus or off campus. Student organizations and/or individual students accepting responsibility or found responsible for hazing may be suspended or dismissed from the University in addition to facing potential criminal sanctions, such as prison incarceration and monetary fines. Student organizations, sports clubs, and athletic teams involved in alleged hazing activities may lose their status as campus organizations.

The UC San Diego policy on hazing can be found in the Student Conduct Code. The policy reads as follows: 

Section VII (K). Participation in hazing or any method of initiation or pre-initiation of potential, new, or active members into a Student Organization or other activity engaged in by the Student Organization or members of the Student Organization at any time that causes, or is likely to cause, physical injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in psychological harm to any Student or other person.

Responding to charges of hazing

Organizations charged with hazing may argue that an activity wasn't hazing because new members agreed to participate (perhaps due to peer pressure and a desire to fit in). But even if new members agreed to participate, the activity can still be considered hazing.

Another common defense is that rogue members committed the hazing activity, unsanctioned by the organization. However, organizations have lost their campus status for hazing activities performed by members outside the leadership circle. Organization leaders are ultimately responsible for communicating ground rules for new member activities and for monitoring 

Tips for new members

If you are a new member of an organization, stay connected with friends outside of the group. If you suspect an activity may be hazing, talk to friends and family members about what you are experiencing and seek their advice. Refuse to participate in an activity if you suspect itÂ?s hazing, or quit the organization. Report any suspected hazing to campus officials, confidentially if you prefer.

How to report suspected hazing incidents

Any member of the campus, whether affiliated with the offending organization or not, has a responsibility to report hazing. The university takes allegations of hazing seriously and will investigate. UCSD extends its jurisdiction beyond the campus to any location where hazing has occurred.

  • To report an incident, notify the UCSD Police Department or your college dean or resident dean. The organizations below should also notify the following contacts:
    • Student organizations: Contact the Center for Student Involvement at hazing@ucsd.edu or call (858) 534-0501.
    • Sports or recreation clubs: Call the sports/ recreation club advisor, (858) 534-8085.
    • Intercollegiate athletics: Contact the coach of the sport, or call (858) 534-4211.
  • When reporting an incident:
    • Indicate who was involved, what happened, and when and where it occurred.
    • Supply as much detail as possible.
    • Provide your name, phone number, and e-mail address.
    • Provide the contact information of any witnesses.
    • You may file an anonymous report, but you should know that such a report can make an investigation more difficult and sometimes unsuccessful.

Workshops and activities

Located on the third floor of the Price Center (map), the Center for Student Involvement offers hazing education workshops for your organization and can suggest a variety of new member activities, including:

  • Community service projects
  • Team building activities at the UCSD Challenge Course
  • Participation in intramural sports
  • Philanthropic fundraisers
  • Attendance at campus events
  • Leadership training

Need more information?

Contact the Center for Student Involvement, (858) 534-0501, or visit Student Org One Stop