What You Can Do

The Bystander

Many individuals want hazing to stop: friends, parents, advisors, students who are being hazed or members of an organization that engage in hazing. Some individuals don't know what to say or do. Others don't think it's their job or their problem. Hazing isn't an individual or organizational problem; it's a social and community problem. It's everyone's problem when hazing occurs within a community and it's everyone's responsibility to help stop hazing.

To play a role in hazing prevention, consider the following steps (adapted from Berkowitz, A., 1994):

  • Recognize that hazing exists
  • Understand why hazing is harmful
  • Overcome the fear of negative consequences
  • Believe that you have a responsibility to act
  • Know what to do
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills to act
  • Take action

The Hazed

There is no way to know how people react to being hazed. Some people might feel positive (as an accomplishment), others might feel annoyed (not necessary, took time away from academics) and others still might have strong negative reactions (experience a re-traumatizing of a past event). People who go through the exact same experience might feel quite differently about it. Just because others feel differently than you does not mean your reaction is "off," or that you are not being hazed. It is important to talk with members outside of the group; silence and secrecy perpetuate hazing.

It can be hard to want to report hazing even if you want the behavior to stop; you might think things will get better, you might not want to get the group in trouble, you might feel like you are letting other potential new members down, or you might have concern about walking away from an organization after investing so much time and energy. Here are some tips for what you can do:

The Hazer

Most people who haze others would not describe themselves as mean spirited people. Rather, they'd see themselves as keepers of the tradition or enforcers of character. They would not recognize themselves as purposely hurting a friend; yet, that is what hazers do. They demean, torment, and humiliate. Most are ignorant of the hidden harms of hazing since they may have been hazed and see themselves as just fine. Hazers need education and if they cannot learn not to haze, they need to be removed from an organization. When you haze, you put yourself at risk of KU conduct proceedings and perhaps civil or criminal consequences.

Consider what other students think are the costs and benefits of hazing and ask yourself, is there a way to avoid all of the potential costs to hazing without sacrificing the standards of the organization? You may find the answer in alternatives to hazing.