FSA—Anti-hazing Information

Why Members Haze

Positive and Negative Intentions

Some organizations haze with malicious intent.  Newly initiated members may be angry about the hazing they endured and wish to seek revenge on the next group of new members. Older members may enjoy bullying and exercising control over younger members. Often these members are a small yet very vocal minority within the organization that can perpetuate a cycle of hazing in the interest of preserving tradition.

I was never in danger, but I wanted to be. I wanted to be hazed worse. I wanted to bleed for them. I wanted to faint from exhaustion. I wanted to be branded. I wanted torture. Why?"

- Anonymous, stophazing.org

Fraternities and Sororities may also seek positive outcomes when they haze. New members feel greater identification with their organization if the initiation process is more difficult. Hazing can force a pledge class to unify and bond in a short period of time (though at the expense of unity with active members). In devoting every aspect of one’s day to the organization, the new member more quickly identifies socially with the organization. The following is a list of benefits organizations hope to get out of their hazing.

Perceived benefits to the organization:

  • Brings the group closer together
  • Weeds out people who don’t want to take the process seriously
  • Humbles new members
  • Keeps traditions in tact
  • Helps the group members learn about each other
  • Cultivates shared pride
  • Promotes discipline within group
  • Makes good stories to tell later

Perceived benefits to the person hazed:

  • Provides a sense of accomplishment
  • Helps you learn about yourself
  • Challenges you to develop coping skills
  • Makes you feel like part of the group
  • Develops close friendships with other new members
  • Prepare you for emotional challenges in life
  • Promotes self-discipline
  • Allows you do to crazy things

Despite these perceived benefits, hazing goes against many organizational principles and standards for human conduct. Hazing puts new members at risk for serious physical and mental harm. There is also no evidence that hazing even provides these benefits. Compare these benefits to the following costs and outcomes of hazing.

Outcomes for the organization:

  • Sanctions for getting caught
  • Risk losing the organization
  • Fosters mistrust between new and current members
  • Leads to dissention among current members
  • Liability risks
  • Poor commitment of members who resent being hazed
  • Undermines long-term commitment by alumni
  • May drive away desirable new members
  • Contributes to poor facility conditions
  • Leads to conflicts with alumni

Outcomes for the person being hazed:

  • Loss of friendships outside of the organization
  • Resentment towards current members
  • Exhaustion
  • Emotional duress from humiliation/intimidation
  • Decreased academic performance
  • Stress-related illness
  • Accidental injuries
  • Inflicted injuries
  • Physical pain
  • Depression or other mental health problems
  • Re-traumatization of past abuse
  • Severe intoxication (resulting in medical emergencies)
  • Seizures
  • Maiming
  • Death

Adapted from the Cornell University website.