Why Do People Haze?

Individuals and organizations engage in hazing activities for many reasons.  Some may engage in hazing activities with malicious intent because they enjoy the power they exert over younger members.  Others may seek positive outcomes for hazing activities, such as team building and group development.  And in some cases, individuals may not even be aware that they are engaging in a certain behavior or activity that could be considered hazing.

Regardless of the intent, hazing stands in contrast to the University Ethos Statement and any perceived benefits are greatly outweighed by the actual cost of hazing.

  Perceived Benefits Costs
Organization
  • Brings the group closer together
  • Weeds out people who don’t want to take the process seriously
  • Keeps traditions intact
  • Helps the group members learn about each other
  • Cultivates shared pride
  • University sanctions and legal liability risks
  • Fosters mistrust between new and current members
  • Leads to dissension among current members
  • 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 
Hazer
  • Feel a sense of pride in continuing traditions
  • Keeping it a secret makes one feel powerful
  • Promotes bonding with other members who are hazing
  • Get to make others go through what you had to go through
  • Feel less angry about having been hazed
  • Fun to humiliate and intimidate others
  • Stressful to plan and keep secret
  • Discomfort of playing role that is inconsistent with one’s personal values
  • Undermines trust with new members
  • Creates conflict with members who hold different views
  • Risk of conduct, criminal, or civil consequences
  • Impact of conduct action on graduate school or government applications
  • Potential rejection by prospective employers who are aware of the hazing  
Victim
  • Provides a sense of accomplishment
  • Challenges you to develop coping skills
  • Makes you feel like part of the group
  • Prepares you for emotional challenges in life
  • Promotes self-discipline
  • Allows you do to crazy things
  • Loss of friendships outside of the organization
  • Physical pain and/or injuries
  • Alcohol poisioning
  • Resentment towards current members
  • Emotional duress, depression, and/or other mental health concerns
  • Decreased academic and/or athletic performance
  • Death

Adapted from:  Cornell University and University of Rochester