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“Hazing is any activity expected [or perceived as expected] of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.” (Allan & Madden, 2008)


Questions to ask

If the answer is “yes” to any of these, the activity is probably hazing.

  • Would I feel uncomfortable participating in this activity if my family, a university administrator, or the media were watching?
  • Would active/older members of the group refuse to participate?
  • Would I get in trouble if a university administrator walked by and saw us?
  • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Does this activity violate my values/my organization’s values?
  • Do members defend this as “tradition?”
  • Is this activity pointless/adding no value to the organization?
  • Is this activity causing emotional and/or physical distress to myself/others?

Download the “Is this activity hazing?” poster


Signs to look for

  • Sudden change in behavior or attitude after joining the organization
  • Wanting to leave the organization with no real explanation
  • Sudden decrease in communication with friends and family
  • Physical or psychological exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained injuries or illness
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Expressed feeling of sadness or feeling of worthlessness
  • Increase in secrecy and unwillingness to share details


Top 10 Hazing Myths

FACT: Traditions are created by groups, and groups hold the power to change or eliminate them. It only takes one year to break a hazing tradition. Remember that the founding members of organizations were not hazed.

FACT: People will behave how you treat them. Hazing motivates people out of fear and anxiety.

FACT: There does not need to be malicious intent for hazing to occur. Hazing often takes place when the hazers did not intend any harm.

FACT: Hazing isolates each member from the established group. It does not promote organizational unity.

FACT: Respect and pride are earned, not demanded or taught. When respect is earned, there is also trust.

FACT: Even a little hazing is still hazing, and typically becomes more serious over time.

FACT: People want and need to be challenged, but in the right way.

FACT: Hazing occurs regardless of a person’s willingness to participate. Human beings want to belong; the desire to “fit in” is as essential to our emotional and physical well being as food and safety.

FACT: Verbal and emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse.

  • Fact: Top areas where hazing occurs as identified through a 2018 University of Tennessee, Knoxville survey:
    • Fraternity or sorority
    • Faith-based organization
    • Performing Arts
    • Academic Club
    • Sport Club
    • Service Organization
    • Athletic Team
    • Student Government


UT Code of Conduct SECTION 4.10 HAZING

Any intentional or reckless act, on or off University-controlled property, by one (1) student, acting alone or with others, which is directed against any other student, which endangers the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that student, or which induces or coerces a student to endanger their mental or physical health, safety, or welfare. “Hazing” does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization.