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Parents & Family
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The experience of coming to college can be both an exciting and stressful time for students. Whether your student is new or returning to campus, the first few weeks are when everyone is adjusting into their routines and making important connections. These connections help students find their place at Lehigh University and are often made through organizations and sports teams.
Involvement can be a positive and beneficial experience by helping students develop essential skills to be successful after college. However, as we have seen in news headlines across the country, the process of joining teams and organizations can bring the potential for hazing.
At A Glance
college students are subjected to hazing
of Lehigh students believe that hazing-related activities occur at this University, and 38% of students have witnessed hazing here
of students speak about their hazing experiences with their family
What is Hazing?
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: Common Factors
- Power differential between those in a group and those who want to join a group, or between senior and junior members of a group
- Intentional initiation rite, practice or ‘tradition’ involved
- Willingness to participate does not absolve responsibility for either party
Talking to Your Student About Hazing
Please recognize that students go through many natural and normal changes during their college experiences. For many students, coming to college is the first time they have been independent—some of your students’ attitudes and behaviors may naturally change. Family are important allies to have when it comes to hazing prevention. Below are a few tips that might help when talking to your student:
- Remember, your student is an adult
- Your student is probably a little different than when in high school
- People communicate differently
- Listen to what your student says
- Treat you student with respect
Source: Adapted from Florida State University.
In addition to our efforts to prevent hazing on campus and in our community, we look to parents, family members, and friends to alert us of any concerns related to hazing. Some warning signs to look for in your student if they are joining a student organization, fraternity, sorority, or sports team include:
- Sudden change in your student’s communication with you, including frequency, length and general tone, surrounding the time the student is joining the group
- Sudden change in willingness to share the activities he/she/they is involved in with the organization
- Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Feeling anger, confusion, embarrassment, helplessness, anxiety and even depression
- Sudden changes in academic performance
- Complaint of new physical ailments - exhaustion, broken bones, sprains, cuts, burns, hangovers, or stomach or head aches, and reasoning of how the injuries happened that don’t quite seem to make sense
- Feel a sense of loyalty to the group and avoid sharing their concerns or fears with anyone for fear the group might get in trouble
- Discussion of wanting to leave the organization/team but being scared or feel there is no way out
If you suspect your student is being hazed, engage your student in conversation about their membership in an organization. You can begin by posing questions like:
- Let your student know you care about him or her
- Are you okay?
- Address your concern
- Are you in the process of joining any club/ group/ organization/ team on campus? If so, what group?
- What types of activities do you do with a club/group/organization/team?
- Are you being forced to do anything unreasonable?
- Do you feel deprived of any necessity (food, shelter, sleep)?
- Is there alcohol involved with any activities?
- If you want to learn more, there is a university website that can help.
The Office of the Dean of Students is available to support parents and students who have questions about their student’s involvement in various organizations.
Note that the University is best positioned to respond to hazing concerns when we receive accurate, timely, and factual information. Parents are able to report hazing via our online form.
Hazing Prevention at Lehigh University
Lehigh is a member of the Hazing Prevention Consortium, a multi-year research to-practice initiative led by StopHazing, Inc. to build an evidence base for hazing prevention on college campuses in the U.S. and beyond.