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Texas A&M University Stop Hazing Initiative

Continuum of Hazing

Hazing activities vary in severity and can range of activities which may be considered low to sever/ life-threatning levels.  The continuum also refers to the severity and duration of impact on individuals and groups.

Below are a few important concepts related to the continuum of hazing.

The Reasonable Person Standard

Where a given activity falls on the continuum is not simply a function of what the act looks like to an observer. That’s because hazing impacts people differently. An action that one reasonable person might experience as mildly humiliating might be experienced by another reasonable person as severely humiliating. In other words, when hazing occurs there are objective and subjective realities, both of which matter when assessing the severity of that action.

The Vulnerability Standard

Certain individuals are more vulnerable to given acts of hazing, perhaps because of past experiences. For example, one fraternity required new members to perform an “elephant walk” in which new members were stripped down to jock straps, blind-folded, and forced to parade around the house in a straight line while holding each other’s hands between their legs. Objectively, a reasonable person might describe this as a very humiliating act. But for one new member, the act evoked memories of being sexually abused as a child. For this vulnerable individual, the act was also emotionally re-traumatizing.

The Grey Zone

Some people find it difficult to determine when a given activity crosses over into hazing. If you are unsure whether an activity constitutes hazing, start by examining it in light of the University’s definition. You can also ask yourself a few questions:  

    • Would you hesitate to describe this activity to your parents or the police?

 

    •  If a videotape of the activity was shown on the news, would you be concerned that the group would get in trouble?

 

    • Would the current members refuse to engage in the same activity?

 

If you answer affirmatively to any of these questions, there is a good chance that the activity is a form of hazing. If you are still unsure, you can place an anonymous call to university officials, including the Offices of the Dean of Students Life (979.845.3111), Student Conduct Services (979.847.7272), the Department of Greek Life (979.862.5636), Corps of Cadets (979.458.1341) and ask their opinion.