Understanding Hazing

Hazing can take many shapes and sizes. Pennsylvania State Law defines hazing as any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or which willfully destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any organization operating under the sanctions of or recognized as an organization by an institution of higher education. Villanova University has policies against hazing in our Student Handbook. 

There are countless stories in today's news concerning hazing incidents on and off campus, resulting in serious injury and death. Please know that hazing is not a tradition or event that you or your organizations want to be a part of. Your actions should never support or be involved with hazing behaviors.


 

At Villanova University, the term 'hazing' means any action or situation that:

  • recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of an individual, or
  • destroys or removes public or private property

for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any organization operating either (1) as organization or group recognized by the University or (2) operating independently of such University recognition, that is, without University approval.

Hazing includes, but not be limited to-

  • any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, or forced calisthenics,
  • exposure to the elements,
  • forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other sub-stance,
  • any other forced physical activity which could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the individual,

and shall include any activity which would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as:

  • sleep deprivation,
  • forced exclusion from social contact,
  • forced conduct which is indecent, obscene, or could result in extreme embarrassment, or
  • any other forced activity which could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual, or any willful destruction or removal of public or private property.

 

Consider all the experiences individuals have that others may not know about. These experiences can impact how a student responds to others.

With this in mind, it’s critical to realize new and active members may:

  • Struggle with depression or other mental health issues
  • Have experienced sexual violence and may be struggling with the aftermath
  • Hold identities that are not visible
  • Be part of a family with a history of alcohol and/or other drug abuse
  • Have suffered the loss of a family member or close friend
  • Struggle with addiction
  • Have a history of suicidal thoughts
  • Take medication for or participate in counseling for mental or physical health
  • Have been abused physically or emotionally in previous relationships
  • Have been hazed or bullied previously
  • Simply not feel comfortable with certain activities or behaviors required of them

Hidden Harm is based on the following:

  • It is impossible to know everything about members of our organizations.
  • A member could have experienced something in the past, or have an invisible character trait, that could make that person highly susceptible to serious mental or physical harm, if hazed.
  • Hazing can be physically and/or psychologically harmful to even those who seem perfectly healthy.
  • Hazing combined with any other challenge an individual might experience can result in an increased risk of harm for that person (and others).

Facts

Hazing on College Campus - Dateline
Parents demand action after hazing deaths on college campuses
Timothy Hazing
Timothy Piazza Anti Hazing Measure signed into Law
Hazing Story - NBC
When does a ritual become abuse? NBC News covers how hazing has become part of the nation's college culture — and what action is being taken