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Prevent Fraternity and Sorority Hazing

Melanie Bennett, Esq., ARM-E
July 2023
Fraternity and Sorority Hazing
Actions to prevent hazing at your college or university

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have anti-hazing laws making it a criminal offense throughout the U.S., and most colleges, universities, and fraternal organizations ban hazing.

Yet, the practice continues. Fraternity and sorority members die from suspected hazing most years. Alcohol and heavy drinking are common factors in these deaths.

To prevent fraternity and sorority organization hazing, take the following actions:

  • Publicize the institution’s anti-hazing policy and relevant laws. Potential institutional sanctions or criminal punishment may deter student hazing. In the Fraternity and Sorority Life orientation, identify what constitutes hazing under the policy and the law, as well as associated consequences. This information should also go in the signed fraternity/sorority recognition agreement and on the Fraternity and Sorority Life website, if applicable.
  • End, reduce, or delay pledging. Traditionally, new recruits have had to prove themselves as pledges, or noninitiated members, for weeks or months, creating an extended opportunity for hazing. Institutions that have banned pledging shorten the period between bid acceptance by new members and initiation to two or three days, thus eliminating the time available for pledging and associated hazing. Even with a pledge ban, a short period of time is typically allowed after bid acceptance to organize the initiation events.
  • Install institution advisors in fraternity and sorority houses. Graduate students, faculty, and other staff members can be effective advisors, especially when they reside at the fraternity house. As a representative of the institution, an advisor should not be perceived as a peer of the members, but as an important communication bridge between the institution and the fraternity and sorority organization. Advisors can also serve as a resource for pledges who may have questions about member behavior. If hazing does occur, the advisor can quickly report it to the institution.
  • Promote alternatives to hazing. Identify positive ways groups on campus can bond with new or prospective members, such as adopting a local charity; holding group events or dinners; supporting college teams by dressing up for team events or away games; participating in mentoring programs with local K-12 schools; or participating in a community service project.
  • Implement a hazing hotline. Provide students, alumni, and faculty with an anonymous method to report suspicions about fraternity and sorority organization misconduct by phone, email, or online. Remember an institution has an obligation to investigate and reasonably respond to reports.
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