What Is Hazing?
The recent tragedies taking place at Penn State University has once again put hazing into spotlight of our community. In fact, it was recently revealed that one of the alleged hazers in the incident was from Middle Tennessee. However, despite a slew of prevention efforts made by schools across the country, hazing incidents continue to occur. In this blog, we explain some of our state’s laws regarding hazing.
In Tennessee, hazing is defined as “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization.”
Not only is hazing prohibited by law in Tennessee, but schools are also required to adopt a written policy prohibiting hazing by any student or organization operating under the sanction of the institution. The school’s policy must be made available to all students at the beginning of each school year. Additionally, they are expected to set aside time to specifically discuss the legal ramifications and the institutional penalties that can be imposed for hazing.
How Do I Know If It’s Hazing or Not?
Hazing is illegal in 44 states and is not condoned by the majority of school administrations. In fact, most student organizations now have anti-hazing policies in place. However some activities can be misclassified as hazing. If you are unsure about an activity, ask yourself: Could I reasonably and genuinely defend this activity if it was witnessed by others? If the answer is no, then the incident under consideration is likely a type of hazing.