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Hazing Education at the University of Virginia


Myths & Facts

Myth #1: Hazing is only a problem for fraternities and sororities.

Fact: Hazing is a societal problem and does not just exist within the Greek System. Throughout the country, hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of student clubs and/or, organizations.

A 2008 national study of hazing found that “55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experienced hazing” (Allen & Madden, 2008). Further, Hoover and Pollard’s study of NCAA Athletics reported that “nearly 80% of student athletes report being hazed” (1999).

For more statistical information, visit the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention.

Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes get out of hand.

Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others — it is victimization. Hazing is pre-meditated and NOT accidental. Not only is hazing is abusive and degrading, it can often be life-threatening.

Myth #3: As long as there’s no malicious intent, a little hazing should be O.K.

Fact: Even if there’s no malicious “intent” safety may still be a factor in hazing activities that are considered to be “all in good fun.” For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips.  It is important to remember that your “intent” will not matter if someone ends up hurt or in the hospital – at that point, it is too late.

Myth #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline.

Fact: First of all, respect is EARNED–not taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation.

Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can’t be considered hazing.

Fact: In states that have laws against hazing, including Virginia,  consent of the victim can’t be used as a defense in a civil suit. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group. For information specific to  the Commonwealth of Virginia, please see the state law against hazing.

Myth #6: It’s difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing–it’s such a gray area sometimes.

Fact: It’s not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is alcohol involved?
  2. Do active or current members refuse to participate in the new member activity? Do active or current members object to the actions?
  3. Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse?
  4. Is there risk of injury or a question of safety?
  5. Do you have any reservation describing the activity to your parents, to a professor or University official?
  6. Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew?
  7. Does this activity have any potential to threaten or jeopardize human dignity?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” the activity is probably hazing.
(Adapted from