Hazing PreventionFraternity and Sorority Life

Student Organization Philosophy Statement

Student clubs and organizations at Gustavus Adolphus College provide the campus community with activities, programs, and resources that enhance the quality of student life. Students who participate in co-curricular activities are more likely to succeed at both personal and professional goals, develop leadership skills, form lasting friendships with peers and learn more about a chosen career field.

This growth is only possible when organizations promote Gustavus’ core values of Excellence, Community, Justice, Service, and Faith. Groups and individuals live these values by:

  • Supporting members’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
  • Contributing to members’ academic goals and successes.
  • Promoting civility and respectful treatment of one another.
  • Protecting members from manipulation, exploitation, or degradation of any nature.
  • Fostering relationships build on trust, acceptance, honesty, and mutual respect.

Identifying Hazing

The following are key identifiers that hazing is taking place:

  • The activity violates the College’s five core values and philosophy statement.
  • The activity is degrading, demeaning, intimidating, or hurtful.
  • The activity seems meaningless, tedious, and/or unnecessarily time consuming.
  • Alcohol and/or drugs are involved.
  • Active and new members are unwilling to discuss the activity with advisors, parents, or prospective members.
  • Active members would be unwilling to participate with the new members and engage in the same activities.
  • Active members and new members would not be comfortable participating in the activity in front of their parents, advisors, or non-member peers.
  • There is risk of injury or question of safety.

Types of Hazing

Students sometimes have difficulty understanding hazing, lacking the information to recognize what actions create harmful situations and lead to negative group dynamics. Being able to identify hazing is an important step in eliminating it. The five core values of the College provide an excellent lens for examining the validity of new member education practices.

Remember that hazing at any level has the capacity to inflict mental and physical harm on its target.

Hazing activities fall into three major categories:

  • Power Differential Hazing
  • Harassment Hazing
  • Violent Hazing

Power Differential Hazing

Power differential hazing damages relationships and creates unhealthy dynamics between new members and existing members. This type of hazing is more psychological than physical; thus it is often falsely viewed as harmless by group members. Power differential hazing dismisses standards of mutual respect and can result in the ridicule, embarrassment, and humiliation of new members.

Common examples:

  • Deprivation of privileges granted to existing members
  • Requiring new members to perform duties not required of existing members
  • Expecting certain items to always be in one’s possession
  • Quizzing/drills on meaningless information
    • i.e. Information that is not relevant to the new members success as an active, contributing member within the sorority or fraternity
  • Socially isolating new members
    • i.e Preventing new members from interacting with people outside of the fraternity or sorority

Harassment Hazing

Harassment hazing includes behaviors that cause emotional or physical stress. It creates situations that confuse and frustrate new members.

Common examples and the Communal Principles they violate:

  • Verbal abuse
    • i.e yelling, singing degrading or sexual songs, requiring that new members do the same
  • Threats or implied threats
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stunt/skit nights with degrading, cruel, or humiliating acts
  • Expecting new members to do chores or personal favors for existing

Violent Hazing

Violent hazing includes activities with the potential to cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to new members.

Common examples and the Core values they violate:

  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Paddling or other forms of assault
  • Public nudity
  • Expecting illegal activity
  • Abductions or kidnaps
  • Expecting sexual activity

Be aware that these lists are not all-inclusive. Many hazing incidents depend on the context of the hazing, not only on the act itself. For instance, conducting an activity late at night in which new members are chastised for failure and there is no opportunity for debriefing creates an atmosphere conducive to hazing.

To reduce hazing, organizations should conduct new member activities in an open, safe environment.

Talking about Hazing

The mental and physical safety of our students is extremely important to Gustavus. It’s important to talk to students with whom you work, instruct, or advise about hazing and their campus involvement to proactively address any potential concerns. Here are some great questions to help begin the conversation:

  • How are you feeling about your New Member Education period?
  • Do you know what hazing is?
  • How can you stand up or say no if it occurs?
  • Do you know how to report the situation if you are being hazed?
  • Do you know the resources at Gustavus if you are hazed?
  • What kind of activities are involved in joining the group or team? Are you comfortable with all these activities?
  • Is your participation in this organization or team impacting your class work?
  • Is alcohol involved in any of these activities?
  • Have you met the organization’s advisor or coach?

Students may or may not feel comfortable expressing concern directly to you if they are being hazed. If you notice any of the following signs of hazing in your student, please report them to the Dean of Students Office.

  • Sudden change in behavior or attitude after joining an organization or team
  • Wanting to leave the organization or team with no real explanation
  • Sudden decrease in communication with friends and family
  • Failure or struggle to study, attend classes, or participate in academics in any way
  • Physical or psychological exhaustion
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Unexplained injury or illness
    • Change in sleeping or eating habits
    • Withdrawal from normal activities
    • Expressed feelings of sadness or feeling of worthlessness
  • Increase in secrecy and unwillingness to share details

Ways to Stop Hazing and Helping Others

Hazing does not go unrecognized; friends, family, and co-workers often witness the harmful effects of hazing and often the hazing itself. However, the isolation hazing creates makes it difficult for these groups to support the student being hazed. Here are some suggestions for reaching out to a person you suspect is being hazed and to offer support.

  • Tell the person that you are concerned.
  • Describe what you have observed (e.g., lack of sleep, changes in your friend's mood).
  • Ask your friend what he or she has had to do as part of joining the group.
  • If the person describes being hazed, underscore that hazing is wrong and that he or she does not have to go along with it.
  • If you suspect that your friend is being hazed but he or she will not say so, ask if there are things going on that he or she is not supposed to talk about. If that is the case, it is very likely that the person is being hazed.
  • Let your friend know that it is okay to withdraw from an organization at any point.
  • Offer to support the person and ask how you can be helpful.
  • Stay connected; allowing your friend to maintain ties outside the organization will help him or her think more clearly about available options and resources.


Hazing activities can be reported anytime through Campus Safety at 507-933-8888 or during normal business hours through the Dean of Students Office at 507-933-7526.

Other Resources:

  • Be willing to approach College staff for advice or to report hazing activity. These resources are listed below.
    • Campus Activities Office 507-933-7598
    • Dean of Students Office: 507-933-7526
    • Campus Safety: 507-933-8888
    • College Counseling Center: 507-933-7027