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Hazing (Policy)

Hazing Policy for Student Organizations

1.        Purpose
It is the responsibility of all student organizations to encourage an atmosphere of learning, social responsibility, and respect for human dignity and to provide positive influence and constructive development for members and aspiring members. "Hazing" is an unproductive and hazardous custom that is incongruous with this responsibility and has no place in university life, either on, or off, campus.

The purpose of this policy is to define hazing and to provide guidelines with regard to hazing that student organizations and their members must follow.

2.        Prohibition and Sanctions
Hazing, as defined in this policy, is prohibited, and

1.        Organizations that are found to be in violation of this policy may lose status as recognized UAB student organizations, and

2.        Individual members who are found to be in violation of this policy are in violation of the Non-Academic Conduct Policy and may be disciplined in accordance with UAB's disciplinary procedures.

3.        Definition
Hazing is a willful action taken toward any student, or group of students, on, or off, campus by a student organization or any of its members to produce public humiliation, physical discomfort, bodily injury, or public ridicule or to create a situation where public humiliation, physical discomfort, bodily injury, or public ridicule occurs.

Such activities include, but are not limited to:
1.        Paddling
2.        Requiring or compelling exercise and calisthenics
3.        Road trips (involuntary excursions)
4.        Requiring or compelling exposure to uncomfortable elements
5.        Requiring or compelling activities creating unnecessary work, detention, or any duties that impair academic efforts
6.        Verbal harassment
7.        Requiring or compelling the wearing in public of apparel which is conspicuous and not in good taste
8.        Requiring or compelling the forced consumption of any liquid or solid substance

4.        Responsibility
The Vice Provost for Student and Faculty Success or a designated representative is the UAB official who has primary responsibility for administering this policy.

5.        Relationship of this policy to the State of Alabama's law:
Alabama Law H.387 declares hazing illegal and establishes conditions for civil and criminal liability.  Alabama Law H.387 and subsequent related amendments will serve as a guide for action by UAB should a hazing incident occur.
Policy Date: 9/12/00

More information about hazing

Hazing has been a part of many student organizations for a long time. It is a tradition that is difficult to stop and/or change. Hazing is not just a sorority or fraternity problem. It is a problem on athletic teams (both NCAA, and Club Sports), the band, honorary organizations, academic organizations as well as Inter-fraternity council, Panhellenic Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multi-cultural Greek Council organizations. Any organization that has requirements for membership or a pledge period or probationary period is at risk for hazing. Unfortunately, hazing can be a problem at any college or university, including The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Hazing can be relatively minor or extremely serious, even life-threatening. There are countless cases over the years and across the country where students have died as a result of hazing. Some of the most common incidents involve forced consumption of large quantities of any liquid - from alcohol to milk to water.

Hazing activities can also be intended to create embarrassment or humiliation. Many times, hazing is done under the guise of creating a stronger sense of belonging through a shared experience. There are many problems with this philosophy:

1. Most of the time, the actual activities change from year to year as each initiating group wants to out-do the other. In effect, the only shared experience is among the individual pledge class.

2. Instead of fostering a stronger sense of belonging, these type of activities foster cliques, as each entering group has their own unique experience. Depending on the severity of the hazing behaviors, the closer the initiating group will be and the more distant and even dislike for the older members this group will have.

3. The activities can get in the way of successful academic pursuits. Examples include being forced to be up all night in service to the membership such as cleaning, chores, designated driver programs.

4. The activities can be dangerous. Forced physical activity, paddling, forced consumption of alcohol, milk, water or other combinations of things. Students will sometimes agree to do anything because the drive to fit-in, make friends or be a member of this particular organization is so strong.

Hazing is insidious in nature. It can start as a relatively harmless activity such as asking all potential new members to carry a small pebble around with them to symbolize the foundation of the organization. The next group decides to out-do the first group and asks everyone to carry around a rock. Eventually, new members end up carrying around a backpack full of bricks. Be aware of the activities you are asking your potential new members to do and why.

Here at UAB, we are striving to be a hazing free university. This is only going to happen with the cooperation of all involved; potential new members, members and leaders of all student organizations, organizational advisors, coaches, faculty, staff and parents. Together we can make this campus a hazing free zone.

If you become aware of a hazing incident or are concerned that what is being asked of you may be hazing, please report it to either the organizational advisor, Coordinator of Greek Affairs at 934-8020, the UAB Police Department at 934-4434, the Office of Student Engagement at 975-9509 or hazing@uab.edu. Remember, by reporting hazing violations you are not only helping yourself, you are also helping the organization and possibly saving a life.

Information for Parents and Families Regarding Hazing

It is really important to speak with your student about hazing. While hazing does occur in the Greek Community, that is not the only place hazing can occur. Hazing has occurred on athletic teams—both intercollegiate and club sports, honorary organizations, the band and potentially other organizations.

While your student will undergo some transition once they start school, you still know your student best. Watch for warning signs of hazing which include:

1. The pattern of communication with your student changes drastically.

2. Your student seems to close off or become isolated with the group s/he is trying to join.

3. Sometimes, someone who is adjusting too quickly to college and seems to have no transition issues can be an issue. Acquiring instant friends can be a result of an organization that is controlling your student.

4. Look for changes in sleeping or eating habits or changes in mood. People being hazed tend to be more angry and irritable.

5. Being hazed is very time consuming so another indicator is a drop in academic performance.

6. In more serious cases of hazing, look for physical ailments and poor explanations of how those injuries occurred. (Lipkins, Susan. Preventing Hazing; Jossey Bass; 2006)

If you suspect your student is being hazed, then talk to them. Remember they are an adult so speak with them respectfully and out of concern. Most victims of hazing don't want to discuss the issue so be persistent. Additionally, many hazing victims don't even realize they are being hazed and many that do realize they are being hazed are in denial about it. Additionally, there is typically a great deal of pressure from the organization for the individuals to be silent. Usually, all new members are gathered together and told what to say if they are ever actually asked about the activities.

Remember that hazing is really about power and control. The desire to fit in is a strong one for many students. These students will do anything to gain acceptance. Individuals who engage in hazing know this and use it to their advantage to control those being hazed. Additionally, most people who engage in hazing were hazed themselves and are seeking to outdo the group that hazed them. For this reason, even minor hazing must be addressed. If it goes undeterred, it will lead to more serious and dangerous forms of hazing.

When talking with your student about hazing ask about the following things:

Are you currently in the process of joining an organization? If so, which one?
What kinds of activities do they ask you to do?
How much time do you spend doing these activities and at what times of the day?
Are you being forced to do anything unreasonable?
Are you being deprived of anything such as food, sleep?
Is alcohol involved in any of these activities?
How does the group have you learn more about their organization/team?

If you suspect your student is being hazed, please report the information to the appropriate entities. You may report hazing to UABPD, The Office of Student Engagement, and/or the Coordinator of Greek Life (if the organization is a Greek letter organization). When reporting hazing, please provide as much detailed information as possible. While you can report hazing anonymously, this really makes it difficult and sometime impossible for the university to take appropriate action against the individuals and/or organization.

The Office of Student Engagement: (205) 975-9509
UAB Police Department: (205) 934-4434
The Counseling & Wellness Center: (205) 934-5816
Coordinator of Greek Life: (205) 934-8020
Campus Recreation Center: (205) 934-8224
If there is an emergency or there is potential for immediate harm please call 911.

Hazing Examples

Many times, people believe that hazing is difficult to define. They think there is a lot of gray area. Here are some examples of hazing taken from StopHazing.org:

Forced or coerced consumption of alcohol
Being yelled at or cursed at by other members of the team or group
Sleep deprivation
Ingestion of vile substances
Branding
Simulate sex acts
Associate with certain people and not others
 Forced or coerced shaving of heads or other body parts
Personal servitude
Inflict violence on someone
Be whipped, kicked, or beaten
Perform sex acts
Public nudity
Make prank phone calls or harass others
Wear embarrassing clothing
Deprive self of regular hygiene practices (e.g., brushing teeth, bathing/showering)
Destroy or steal property
Cheat or help others cheat on an exam
"Drop-offs" or "dumps" in unfamiliar locations
Being paddled
Humiliating Kangaroo courts or mock trials
Lock-ups or being confined to small spaces
Being duct taped or some other physical restraints
Sacrificing or injuring animals
Burning skin

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There really is a wide continuum of hazing behaviors from those that are kind of hidden or subtle, to those that are threatening, embarrassing or harassing and finally to those that are violent or dangerous. Particularly with the more hidden to subtle types of hazing, context is important. Remember the power and control dynamic.

To help you identify whether something is hazing or not, the following questions should be asked. If the answer to ANY of these questions is YES, it is very likely that the activity is hazing.

Would active, current members of the group refuse to participate in this activity with the new members and do exactly what theyre being asked to do?
Does the activity risk emotional or physical harm or abuse?
Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew?
Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents were watching?
Would we get in trouble if the Assistant Vice President for Student Life walked by?
Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
Am I doing anything illegal?
Does participation violate my values or those of my organization?
Sources: HazingPrevention.org

Put another way, Will Keim makes the following statement regarding whether or not an activity is hazing:

 1. If you have to ask if it's hazing, it is. 2. If in doubt, call your advisor/coach/national office. If you won't pick up the phone, you have your answer. Don't B.S. yourself.' 3. If you haze, you have low self-esteem. 4. If you allow hazing to occur, you are a 'hazing enabler.' 5. Failure to stop hazing will result in death...

Will Keim, Ph.D., "The Power of Caring"


Alternatives to Hazing

1. Foster Unity
Have the members of your group/organization work together on a community service project.
Visit the ropes course to work on group cohesiveness, communication and leadership skills.
Work together to plan a social or athletic event with another group.

2. Develop Problem-Solving Abilities
Discuss the organization's weaknesses such as poor recruitment, apathy, and poor scholarship, and plan solutions that the organization might then adopt.

3. Develop Leadership Skills
Encourage participation in school/campus activities outside of the organization.
Encourage new members to get involved in organizational committees and/or leadership roles. For more information contact Student Activities at 934-8225 or Student Involvement at 934-8020.
Develop a peer mentor program within your group for leadership roles.
Invite school/community/business leaders into the organization to share their experiences.

 4. Instill a Sense of Membership
Plan special events when the entire organization gets together to attend a movie, play, or religious service.
Plan a "membership circle" when current and new members participate in a candlelight service in which each person has a chance to express what membership means to them.

5. Promote Scholarship
Take advantage of your school/college/ university academic and tutoring services.
Designate study hours for members of your organization.
Invite college/university or community experts to discuss test-taking skills, study methods, time management etc.

6. Build Awareness of the Organization's History
Invite an older member to talk about the organization's early days, its founding, special chapter traditions, and prominent former members.

7. Aid Career Goals
Use college resources for seminars on resume writing, job interview skills; various careers. 

8. Involve Members in the Community
Get involved with campus and community service projects.
Plan fund-raisers for local charitable organizations.

 9. Improve Relations with Other Organizations
Encourage new members to plan social or service projects with other new members of organizations
Work together to plan joint social or service activities.

Adapted from: StopHazing.org