The Hazing Spectrum
Acts of hazing can generally be grouped into three different categories: subtle hazing, harassment hazing, and violent hazing.
Students may perceive group activities in this category as harmless or even fun for the members. The key concept of subtle hazing is the presence of a power differentiation between the new members and returning members of the group. Consequently, returning members cannot be certain if new members willingly participate in activities that are specifically for new students to the group. Such programs usually involve tasks that place the new members in a position of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation. Examples of subtle hazing include:
- Requiring new members to “greet” other members in a specific way and/or referring to new members in a demeaning way
- Being required to remain silent or being silenced with implied threats for violation
- Socially isolating new members in such ways as being required to walk in groups around campus or associating with specific people and not others
- Requiring new members to perform duties not assigned to other members
- Line-ups, drills, or any form of meaningless questioning with or without the presence of a pressured situation
- Assigning demerits
- Being required to carry certain objects
- Embarrassing oneself
- Performing special tasks in front of others or for others
- Being singled out
Although new members are not recognized as a protected class, the same concepts of harassment found in the college policy apply to this category of hazing. Harassment includes actions that have the effect of creating a hostile and intimidating environment sufficiently severe or pervasive to substantially impair a reasonable person’s participation in college programs or activities, or use of college facilities. Examples include:
- Verbal abuse such as being yelled, cursed, or sworn at
- Threats or implied threats
- Partial or total nudity (including stripping)
- Asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
- Stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude, or humiliating attire
- Expecting new members to perform personal service to other members such as carrying books, running errands, cooking, cleaning, etc.
- Sleep deprivation
- Sexual simulations
- Expecting new members to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness
- Being expected to harass others, e.g. making prank phone calls
- Intimating to new members what might happen at initiation
Behaviors that have the potential to cause physical and/or emotional or psychological harm. Examples of violent hazing — or acts that could lead to violent hazing — include:
- Forced or coerced alcohol or drug consumption, including drinking games or contests
- Consumption of excessive amounts of any substance (including water, milk, alcohol, etc.)
- Eating or drinking unwanted or vile substances
- Throwing substances such as food, oil, syrup, flour, or gasoline on an individual
- Destroying or vandalizing property
- Excessive exercise or calisthenics
- Stealing, cheating, or committing a crime
- Body alterations, including inflicting pain on self, cutting, branding, tattooing, piercing, or shaving
- Beating, paddling, or other forms of physical assault
- Being tied up, taped up, blindfolded, or confined
- Exposure to extreme heat or cold
- Abuse or mistreatment of animals
- Being thrown into a body of water
- Not allowed to attend school or complete school work
- Deprivation of food, sleep, or cleanliness
- Being kidnapped
- Being transported and abandoned
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Sexual harassment and/or assault
Social Networking Policy
Students who have athletic, music, or leadership roles that place them in a position of representing St. Olaf College should be conscious of individual or group behaviors that might embarrass themselves, their organization, or the college. The ability to post information with or without permission can easily compromise individuals. Examples include but are not limited to emailing, texting, and participating in social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Yik Yak, Instagram, Tindr, etc.).
St. Olaf College does not place any restrictions on the use of these media. However, we remind you that as a leader in the St. Olaf community, you are a representative of the college and are often in the public eye. We advise all St. Olaf students to exercise extreme caution in their use of social networking:
- Before participating in any online community, understand that anything posted online is available to anyone, anywhere. Any text or photo placed online is completely out of your control the moment it is placed online — even if you limit access to your site.
- For your safety, do not post online home or local addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, or other personal information, or photos or other items that could embarrass you, your organization, or St. Olaf College. This includes information, photos, and items that may be posted by others on your page.
- Exercise caution as to what information you post online about your whereabouts or plans.
- Be sure that you can trust those with whom you are connected online.
- St. Olaf College does not monitor non-institutional social media channels, but the college will respond when concerns arise or complaints are made.
Individuals, teams, ensembles, or organizations could face disciplinary action for violating policies related to inappropriate use of electronic media.
Five Steps for Preventing Hazing in Your Organization
Proactively using these five suggestions will build a positive culture while providing you with tools to lead your group with confidence and integrity:
- Develop Strong, Positive, Responsible Leaders
What students want and need most are positive, responsible, and proactive peer leaders who will not plan or permit any hazing. Current leaders can make significant contributions to long-term success by being clear in their own words and actions, as well as investing the time to develop newer members into strong leaders who aren’t afraid to step up and speak out against hazing.
- Provide Positive Alternatives to Hazing
Some people believe that hazing promotes group unity. It does not. Hazing undermines unity. Group cohesion should be one of your goals as a leader and there is a variety of positive team-building ideas that leaders can use, including group meals, movie nights, ropes courses, camping trips, recreational sports, team-building challenges, etc.
- Talk Openly About Your Views and Policy on Hazing
Make sure that team members know in no uncertain terms, through your words and actions, that hazing will not be tolerated at St. Olaf. Let your members know that as a leader you are held accountable, and as such you are holding them accountable to prevent hazing. Make it clear that hazing is taken seriously, and that consequences are real.
- Install a Buddy System
Pair up your new members with established members. Let the veterans know that they are in charge of helping the newcomers survive and thrive in the new environment. You want to create a situation where veterans acts as a mentors or guides and look out for the new members.
- Expect All Members to Report Any Anticipated or Actual Hazing
Let members of your organization know that you want them to come to you immediately if they anticipate or experience any hazing. This might be difficult because of the coercive pressures that sometimes exist in organizations. However, be sure that they also know that you have zero tolerance for hazing.