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Hazing Education at the University of Virginia


What Is Hazing?


Hazing is a crime in Virginia and is prohibited by University policy and the University Standards of Conduct. The University does not condone hazing in any form. The University defines “hazing” as any action taken or situation created by a member or members of a student organization toward one or more organization members or prospective members in connection with initiation, admission, affiliation, or ongoing membership in the organization when the action or situation:

A. Occurs on University-owned or leased property or at University-sponsored or supervised functions or at the local residence of any University student, faculty member, or employee, and

B. Is designed to produce or does produce mental or physical harassment, humiliation, fatigue, degradation, ridicule, shock, or injury. Examples of hazing activities and situations include, but are not limited to, the following*:

  1. Paddling;
  2. Kidnapping;
  3. All forms of physical activity which are used to harass, punish, or harm an individual;
  4. Forced excursions or road trips;
  5. Confinement;
  6. Spraying, painting, or pelting with any substance;
  7. Burying in any substance;
  8. Nudity with the intent to cause embarrassment;
  9. Servitude;
  10. Exposure to uncomfortable elements;
  11. Verbal abuse;
  12. Wearing of apparel that is conspicuous and/or indecent;
  13. Forcing consumption of alcohol or any other substance, legal or illegal;
  14. Depriving students of sufficient sleep (six consecutive hours per day is normally considered to be a minimum);
  15. Burning, branding, or tattooing any part of the body;
  16. Psychological hazing, defined as any act which is likely to:
    1. Compromise an individual’s dignity;
    2. Cause an individual embarrassment or shame;
    3. Cause an individual to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; or
    4. Cause an individual emotional distress;
  17. Interrogating an individual in an intimidating or threatening manner;
  18. Misleading prospective members in an effort to convince them that they will not become members unless they complete tasks, follow instructions, or act in a certain way;
  19. Misleading prospective members into believing that they will be hurt during induction or initiation;
  20. Carrying any items (shields, paddles, bricks, hammers, etc.) that serve no constructive purpose or that are designed to punish or embarrass the carrier;
  21. Blindfolding and parading individuals in public areas, blindfolding and transporting in a motor vehicle, or privately conducting blindfolding activities that serve no constructive purpose;
  22. Binding or restricting an individual in any way that would prohibit them from moving on their own; and
  23. Requiring or suggesting that an individual obtain or possess items or complete tasks in an unlawful manner (e.g., for a scavenger hunt).

Student organizations and/or individual members found to have engaged in hazing as defined in this statement shall be in violation of University policy and the University’s Standards of Conduct and may also be in violation of state law. The state statute on hazing, Section 18.2-56 of the Virginia Code, states:

“It shall be unlawful to haze so as to cause bodily injury, any student at any school, college, or university.

Any person found guilty thereof shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Any person receiving bodily injury by hazing shall have a right to sue, civilly, the person or persons guilty thereof, whether adults or infants.

The president or other presiding official of any school, college or university receiving appropriations from the state treasury shall, upon satisfactory proof of the guilt of any student hazing another student, sanction and discipline such student in accordance with the institution’s policies and procedures. The institution’s policies and procedures shall provide for expulsions or other appropriate discipline based on the facts and circumstances of each case and shall be consistent with the model policies established by the Department of Education or the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, as applicable. The president or other presiding official of any school, college or university receiving appropriations from the state treasury shall report hazing which causes bodily injury to the attorney for the Commonwealth of the county or city in which such school, college or university is, who shall take such action as he deems appropriate.

For the purposes of this section, “hazing” means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a student or students or to inflict bodily injury on a student or students in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, association, fraternity, sorority, or student body regardless of whether the student or students so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.”

Any violation of Section 18.2-56 shall be deemed a violation of the University’s Standards of Conduct.

State and/or local law enforcement agencies investigate allegations of hazing under Virginia law. The Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS) investigates allegations of hazing under University policy. 

Anyone with concerns about hazing and/or the well-being of any student is encouraged to contact ODOS directly at 434-924-7133 or file a report through Just Report It.

*Examples included in the list have been adapted from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s model hazing prevention policy as developed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

For additional information and to read the full policy, see STU-005: Prohibition on Hazing.