While being part of a campus group can be one of the most meaningful aspects of student life, hazing is a hidden and serious problem that undermines the value of these experiences for many individuals.
Lehigh University defines hazing as:
Any action taken or situation created, whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.
Hazing includes but is not limited to:
Any brutality of a physical nature, such as paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics.
Exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance.
Any other forced physical activity that would subject the individual to physical harm or mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment, or any other forced activity which would adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual.
Forced or coerced activities which:
create excessive fatigue; cause physical and psychological shocks;
involve morally questionable quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, or any other such activities;
involve publicly wearing apparel that is conspicuous and not normally in good taste;
cause students to engage in public stunts and buffoonery, morally degrading or humiliating games and activities, or late night activities which interfere with scholastic activities.
any activities that are in violation of federal, state, or local laws, this Code of Conduct, or accepted standards of good taste or propriety.
Any activities as described in this section upon which the initiation or admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a registered student organization is directly or indirectly conditioned shall be presumed to be forced activity, the willingness of an individual to participate in such activity notwithstanding.
Any registered student organization or Lehigh University student that commits hazing is subject to disciplinary action through the Office of Student Conduct.
If Not You, Who?
Under the recently enacted Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law, Pennsylvania's medical amnesty laws have changed and now align directly with Lehigh University’s. The law includes a “safe harbor” clause, which protects not only the person calling for medical help from any alcohol-related charges but also protects the person in need of medical help.
The concept of hidden harm has to do with the fact that we don’t know everything about the newest members of our organizations. We don’t even know EVERYTHING about our best friends. Someone who has just joined an organization or team could have a background that would make them highly susceptible to serious repercussions if hazed. Hazing can be physically or psychologically harmful to even perfectly healthy individuals, but mix hazing with any one of numerous issues individuals may be dealing with, and the damage can increase exponentially. Traumas caused by hazing include, but are not limited to:
Often it is the result of physical trauma that we first hear about hazing. This involves any incident where someone is physically injured or even so far as a death. Text about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol to come.
Shame or self-blame are more difficult to identify or report. However, negative psychological effects are just as detrimental to a victim of hazing, as well as their families. Examples include depression, suicide, poor grades, withdrawal from activities and shame. These effects are long-lasting; they can persist into adulthood.
Previous Experiences/Hidden Harm
What we don’t know about an individual has the potential to be the ultimate harm of hazing. “Baggage”, or previous negative or stressful experiences, can increase an individual’s susceptibility to serious repercussions if hazed.
Examples of baggage can include, but are not limited to, depression or other mental health issues, military service in a war zone, having been the victim of sexual assault or physical/emotional abuse, a personal or family history of alcoholism, previous experience with hazing, and having suffered the loss of friends or family members.