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What is Hazing? 

Hazing endangers the mental or physical health/safety or coerces someone to endanger their mental or physical health/safety, REGARDLESS of one’s willingness to participate

Identifying what types of activities could be hazing and knowing what signs might indicate someone is being hazed is the first step in preventing hazing.

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Types of hazing and examples

  • Verbal abuse: being yelled at, threatened, or intimidated
  • Personal servitude: getting someone’s meals, serving as their driver
  • Social isolation: not being allowed to spend time with other people/groups
  • Embarrassing activities: wearing an article of clothing against their choice, having someone ask another person uncomfortable questions
  • Power imbalance: older individual(s) with more power asking others to complete pointless tasks
  • Sleep deprivation: attending meetings at obscure hours, driving people around late at night
  • Pointless tasks: completing tasks that have nothing to do with the organization’s purpose
  • Forced or coerced alcohol: drinking games, rapid or mass consumption of alcohol
  • Physical requirements: pushups, running, forced exercise outside of the organization’s mission

Signs that someone might be experiencing hazing

  • 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

Is this activity hazing?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, 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?


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 regardless of the student’s willingness to participate.