Understanding Hazing

Hazing can take many shapes and sizes. Pennsylvania State Law provides definitions and regulations surrounding hazing, in addition to Villanova's policies against hazing found in the Code of Student Conduct. 

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.

For purposes of Villanova's Code of Student Conduct, the term 'hazing' means any intentional, knowing, or reckless action or situation that, for purposes of initiation or admission into or affiliation with an organization, or as a condition for continued or enhanced membership in an organization, endangers the mental or physical health, safety, well-being, or dignity of an individual, or destroys or removes public or private property.

 Hazing includes, without limitation:

  • Any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced or coerced calisthenics, or exposure to the elements;
  • Brutality of a mental, emotional or sexual nature;
  • Forced or coerced consumption of any food, alcohol, drug or other substance;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Forced or coerced exclusion from social contact;
  • Forced or coerced conduct which is illegal, indecent, obscene, or could result in extreme embarrassment;
  • Any other forced or coerced activity which could adversely affect the physical health, safety, mental health, or dignity of an individual or group;
  • Any other conduct prohibited as hazing under applicable State or Federal law. 

Any activity as described in this definition shall be presumed to be forced and/or coerced, the willingness of an individual to participate in such activity notwithstanding.

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).


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