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Hazing and Student Organizations

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

What is hazing?

The following are some examples of hazing divided into three categories: subtle, harassment, and violent. It is impossible to list all possible hazing behaviors because many are context-specific. While this is not an all-inclusive list, it provides some common examples of hazing traditions.

A. Subtle Hazing
Behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between new members/rookies and other members of the group or team. Termed “subtle hazing” because these types of hazing are often taken-for-granted or accepted as “harmless” or meaningless. Subtle hazing typically involves activities or attitudes that breach reasonable standards of mutual respect and place new members/rookies on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. New members/rookies often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group or team. (Some types of subtle hazing may also be considered harassment hazing).

Some Examples:

  • Deception
  • Assigning demerits
  • Silence periods with implied threats for violation
  • Deprivation of privileges granted to other members
  • Tasks of personal servitude
  • Memorization of information not explicitly required by the national new member process
  • Requiring new members/rookies to perform duties not assigned to other members
  • Socially isolating new members/rookies
  • Line-ups and Drills/Tests on meaningless information
  • Name calling
  • Requiring new members/rookies to refer to other members with titles (e.g. “Mr.,” “Miss”) while they are identified with demeaning terms
  • Expecting certain items to always be in one's possession

B. Harrassment Hazing
Behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort in order to feel like part of the group. Harassment hazing confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for new members/rookies. (Some types of harassment hazing can also be considered violent hazing). 

Some Examples:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Threats or implied threats
  • Asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
  • Wearing publicly, apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste, or requiring shaved hair
  • Stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude, or humiliating acts
  • Participating in personally degrading or humiliating games or activities
  • Expecting new members/rookies to perform personal service to other members such as errands, cooking, cleaning etc
  • Creation of extensive fatigue or forced or coerced participation in calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups, running, and other fatiguing activities
  • Tuck-ins
  • Required (explicit or implicit) participation in quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips, or any such activities
  • Engaging in public stunts or buffoonery
  • Requiring the carrying of objects, such as bricks, buckets, or large objects
    Sleep deprivation
  • Late work sessions or activities that interfere with scholastic activities, including exhausting and time consuming projects that are too disruptive to normal study patterns
  • Sexual simulations
  • Intentionally creating clean-up work
  • Expecting new members/rookies to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness
  • Be expected to harass others
  • Any activity considered morally offensive by an individual participating
  • 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

C. Violent Hazing
Behaviors that have the potential to cause physical and/or emotional, or psychological harm.

Some Examples:

  • Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
  • Forced, required, or coerced consumption of any food, liquid or other substance
  • Physical abuse including paddling, beating, tattooing, pushing, hitting, physical threats, exposure to the elements, or other physical harm, or forms of assault
  • Branding
  • Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances or concoctions
  • Burning
  • Water intoxication
  • Expecting abuse or mistreatment of animals
  • Public nudity
  • Expecting illegal activity
  • Bondage
  • Confining participants to rooms or areas that are uncomfortable due to temperature, noise, size, or air quality for the purpose of harassment
  • Any dangerous activity including, but not limited to long swims, jumps from high places, binding, and blindfolding
  • Member ditches, abductions/kidnaps
  • Exposure to cold weather or extreme heat without appropriate protection
  • Any other activity which is not consistent with the fraternal law, ritual, or policy and/ or University Policies

California Law and University policies

California Law

Matt's Law, (Senate Bill 1454) sponsored by Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch, CA), is a California law that allows for felony prosecutions when serious injuries or deaths result from hazing rites. The bill increases the severity of charges for some hazing rituals, from misdemeanors to felonies, and for the first time gives prosecutors the ability to seek hazing charges against non students. In a 34-2 vote, Matt’s Law passed the state Senate on May 30th, 2006. On September 19, 2006, the statute was signed into law by governor Arnold Schwarznegger.

Matt's Law was named in memory of Matt Carrington, a 21-year-old California State University, Chico student from Concord, California. Carrington died in the basement of a fraternity house located two short blocks from campus.

Prior to the enactment of Matt's Law, hazing — even in the case of death — was only a misdemeanor, as part of California's education code, rather than punishable under the state's penal code. Matt's law prevents unaffiliated fraternities from using the argument that they cannot be punished for hazing, simply because they are not student organizations. The law also gives prosecutors clear authority to bring charges against anyone or any organization involved in hazing, not just currently enrolled students.

BILL TEXT
PASSED THE SENATE - AUGUST 30, 2006
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY - AUGUST 24, 2006
INTRODUCED BY Senator Torlakson
February 23, 2006
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SEC. 3. Section 245.6 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as "Matt's Law" in memory of Matthew William Carrington, who died on February 2, 2005 as a result of hazing.

(b) As used in this section "hazing" or "haze" is conduct which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to another person in the course of the other person's preinitiation into, initiation into, affiliation with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization. The terms "hazing" or "haze" do not include customary athletic, fire department, police department, military, or quasi-military training, conditioning, or similar events or activities.

(c) Any person who hazes or conspires to participate in hazing is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100), nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by both fine and imprisonment.

(d) Any person who hazes or conspires to participate in hazing which results in death, great bodily injury, or great psychological injury is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison.

(e) An organization is guilty of violating subdivisions (b) or (c) if the organization's agents, directors, trustees, managers, or officers authorized, requested, commanded, encouraged, participated in, ratified, or tolerated the hazing.

(f) The implied or expressed consent of the person or persons against whom the hazing was directed shall not be a defense to any action brought under this section.

(g) This section does not apply to the person against whom the hazing was directed.

(h) This section shall not, in any manner, limit or exclude prosecution or punishment for any other crime or any civil remedy.

(i) The person against whom the hazing is directed may commence a civil action for injury or damages, including mental and physical pain and suffering that results from the hazing. The action may be brought against any participants in the hazing, or any organization whose agents, directors, trustees, managers, or officers authorized, requested, commanded, encouraged, participated in, ratified, or tolerated the hazing. If the organization is a corporation, whether for profit or not, the individual directors of the corporation maybe held individually liable for damages.

SEC. 4. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

rev. 4/2007 SA-KW

University Policies

22.00 Student Conduct Code

Student Conduct Code changes for 2014–15 academic year
Effective date: Sept. 25, 2014

Review the updated Code below, or download these PDF documents:

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.

Alternatives to hazing

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