Understanding Hazing

"Having a safe environment is in everyone’s best interest."

November 22, 2022
Picture: Students walking and talking outside

Sending your child off to college can cause a lot of worry – safety is often a top concern for most parents. Having a safe environment is in everyone’s best interest.  Hazing may not be a term you are familiar with, or you might equate it with Greek life or athletics.  Fifty five percent of students belonging to clubs, organizations, and teams experience some level of hazing.  Parents work hard to prepare their collegian not only academically but for the many experiences that life presents as they navigate the world on their own. If you aren’t aware of hazing and what it might look like, chances are your student may not be either. Here is a link to a good resource as a place to start. Hazing is any act, as an explicit or implicit condition of recruitment, admission or initiation in, affiliation, or new or continued membership to a group.

While colleges in recent years have done a better job at bringing awareness to hazing, there are conversations and discussions you can have at home with your student to better educate, bring awareness and support them as it relates to hazing and bullying. A significant number of hazing incidents occur when joining a fraternity, sorority, or sports team, but those are not an inclusive list. Other areas include but not limited to band, choir, theater, ROTC, or other student led clubs on campus. Ultimately, no matter what your students’ interests, having these conversations are important and critical to keeping them and others safe. Defining hazing itself can be difficult, but it can range from small, isolated events to ongoing planned conduct, and can be initiated by an individual or group.

Hazing doesn’t have to be a scary conversation, let’s help guide you with some open-ended questions. Consider talking when you and your student are together, are not distracted and are both calm. Here are some suggested questions:

  • What are some examples of hazing?
  • What are some reasons for not speaking out against or reporting hazing?
  • What are some positive team-building traditions that could build relationships without hazing?
  • What would you do if you witnessed hazing?

Sometimes it can be obvious that it is hazing and other times it is subtle and harder to see. Here are some additional questions your student can ask themselves to help determine if it is hazing or not:

  • Would I feel uncomfortable participating in this activity if my family were watching?
  • Would a university administrator disapprove of this activity?
  • Am I being asked to keep this a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Is this causing me emotional distress?

EWU takes hazing very seriously and will not tolerate it. A hazing violation renders both the organization and participating individuals subject to discipline. Any student who is aware of or in the presence of hazing is also subject to discipline. If you or your student suspect hazing is occurring, please alert the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office at 509-359-6960 or email srr@ewu.edu so appropriate action can be taken. A hazing incident form can also be filled out. More information on what EWU does with reports of hazing can be found here.

Additional resources on and off campus include:

Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS) – 509.359-2366   cws@ewu.edu

EWU Sorority and Fraternity Office – 509.359.6718  sfl@ewu.edu

EWU Police Department – 509.359.6498  police@ewu.edu

Dean of Students Office – 509.359.7852  dos@ewu.edu

Student Accommodations and Support Services – 509.359.6871  sass@ewu.edu

Stop Hazing

Hazing Prevention