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What’s the harm in hazing?

  • Birdsall Obear

It's time we started thinking differently about hazing. This long-time college tradition of torment is not only mean — it’s also illegal.

As the new semester rolls around and clubs, Greek life and schools take in new recruits, it’s important to know the legal ramifications of choosing to engage in hazing.

What is hazing?

Hazing may refer to any intentional or reckless act that risks a student's safety or physical well-being in order to allow the student to become a part of an organization. Hazing a student who consents to this harassment is still illegal and punishable by the same criminal penalties.

Examples of hazing may include the following acts if they are demanded on the condition of the student’s admission or initiation into an organization affiliated with school:

  • Brutalities, such as whipping, beating or branding
  • Consumption of food, alcohol, drugs or other substances
  • Confinement

What are the penalties for hazing?

The penalties a student can face for being involved in an organization engaged in hazing can be life-lasting. If caught in an act of hazing that carries any likelihood of bodily harm, those involved could face Class A misdemeanor charges. This is the most serious class and can result in fines up to $10,000 and/or up to 9 months of jail time.

If the hazing actually results in a great deal of bodily harm, students could face Class H felony charges, punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or a jail sentence for up to 6 years.

Class G felony charges are enforced when hazing results in a death. These charges can result in a fine up to $25,000 and a jail sentence for up to 10 years.

Who can be prosecuted for hazing?

If you are a member of an organization that is involved in hazing, you could be prosecuted for simply being a bystander to the crime or consenting to be hazed yourself.

Misdemeanor or felony charges in addition to jail time could leave a stain on your criminal record that deprives you of education, occupation and housing opportunities. If you or someone you know is involved in hazing, seek the counsel of a skilled criminal defense lawyer for help.

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