Hazing

What is it?

"Hazing" refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.

In years past, hazing practices were typically considered harmless pranks or comical antics associated with young men in university settings.

However, hazing can be experienced by people of all genders in school groups, university organisations, athletic teams, and other social and professional organisations. Hazing is a complex social problem that is shaped by power dynamics operating in a group and within a particular cultural context.

Hazing activities are generally considered to be physically abusive, hazardous, and/or sexually violating. The specific behaviours or activities within these categories vary widely among participants, groups, and settings.

While alcohol use is common in many types of hazing, other examples of typical hazing practices include:

  • personal servitude
  • sleep deprivation and restrictions on personal hygiene
  • yelling, swearing and insulting new members / first years
  • being forced to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire, including coercing or forcing new members to engage in public nudity
  • consumption of vile substances or smearing of such on one's skin
  • brandings
  • physical beatings
  • coerced binge drinking and drinking games
  • sexual simulation and sexual assault.

Examples of hazing

The following are some examples of hazing divided into three categories: subtle, harassment, and violent. It is impossible to list all possible hazing behaviours because many are context-specific. While this is not an all-inclusive list, it provides some examples of hazing.

  • Subtle hazing

    Subtle hazing includes behaviours that emphasise a power imbalance between new members / first years and other members of the group or team. They are termed “subtle hazing” because these types of hazing are often taken for granted or accepted as “harmless” or meaningless.

    Subtle hazing typically involves activities or attitudes that breach reasonable standards of mutual respect and place new members / first years on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. New members / first years often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group or team. (Some types of subtle hazing may also be considered harassment hazing).

    Some examples:

    • deception
    • assigning demerits
    • silence periods with implied threats for violation
    • deprivation of privileges granted to other members
    • requiring new members / first years to perform duties not assigned to other members
    • socially isolating new members / first years
    • line-ups and drills or tests on meaningless information
    • name calling
    • requiring new members / first years to refer to other members with titles (e.g. “Mr”, “Miss”) while they are identified with demeaning terms
    • expecting certain items to always be in one's possession.
  • Harassment hazing

    Harassment hazing includes behaviours that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort to feel like part of the group. It confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for new members / first years. (Some types of harassment hazing can also be considered violent hazing).

    Some examples:

    • verbal abuse
    • threats or implied threats
    • asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
    • stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude or humiliating acts
    • expecting new members / first years to perform personal service to other members such as cooking, cleaning, being a  "slave", etc
    • sleep deprivation
    • sexual simulations
    • expecting new members / first years to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness.
    • being expected to harass others.
  • Violent hazing

    Behaviours that have the potential to cause physical and/or emotional, or psychological harm.

    Some examples:

    • forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
    • beating, paddling, or other forms of assault
    • branding
    • forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances or concoctions
    • expecting abuse or mistreatment of animals
    • public nudity
    • expecting illegal activity
    • bondage
    • abductions / kidnappings
    • exposure to cold weather or extreme heat without appropriate protection.

What else constitutes hazing?

Hazing can include a wide range of activities, and asking yourselves these questions can help you identify the experience:

  • Why are they choosing me?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents/elders were watching?
  • Would we be in trouble if a staff member walked by and saw us?
  • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Does participation in this activity violate my values or those of the University? - See the University Student Misconduct Rule 2020
  • What university misconduct, criminal or civil consequences will impact me if I participate in this activity? Some of the behaviour that is coerced or forced on students may in itself be a criminal or civil offence (eg public nudity) and may result in criminal/civil consequences.
  • Is what I’m participating in, or witnessing, causing emotional or physical distress, or stress to myself or to others?

One way you can help prevent these behaviours is to be ready to help others or yourself. This is called being an active bystander. An active bystander is someone who becomes aware of a situation where hazing has occurred and acts. If you have witnessed or experienced these behaviours, support is available. You can complete our online form to have a confidential conversation with us.

Make a report

The impact

Hazing is often about power, control and establishing dominance. Hazing does not build community, in fact the opposite, it creates division, separates people into groups and does nothing to foster trust, unity or respect.

The impact of hazing can be significant for everyone involved.

  • For the victim / survivor
    • Physical, emotional, and/or mental harm including anxiety, embarrassment, shame, depressed mood, risk of suicide
    • Loss of sense of control and trust
    • Avoidance of other social activities
    • Decline in grades and participation in studies
    • Loss of respect for and interest in being part of Charles Sturt University
    • Illness or hospitalisation
    • Additional effects on family and friends.
  • For the hazer
    • Feelings of shame and guilt
    • Distorted sense of leadership
    • Damage to personal reputation
    • Risk of university misconduct, criminal or civil consequences
    • Media scrutiny
    • Potential rejection by prospective employers who become aware of the hazing activity
  • For the community or group
    • Reinforces and condones this behaviour for continuing students
    • Conflict between members of the group
    • It may drive away new members
    • Media scrutiny and damage to the reputation of the group
    • Conflicts with alumni and other supporters of the University.

What we can do

As students, we have an expectation that Charles Sturt University is a place where we will learn, interact and engage in a safe, inclusive and respectful environment.

As part of this commitment, we have also identified behaviours that are not acceptable in our community. Our definitive statement is that hazing practices are unacceptable at Charles Sturt University. Charles Sturt University is a values-driven organisation, priding ourselves on making our values part of our daily lives. These values - being insightful, inclusive, impactful and inspiring - aim to guide our behaviour and help us achieve our ethos of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in.

We welcome your ideas to this conversation, helping us to continually define what "safe and respectful" means to you.

Share your ideas

Take action

If the situation becomes threatening or potentially dangerous, call:

Triple Zero (000) for police, fire brigade or ambulance

1800 931 633 for campus security

Refer to our emergency procedures.

If you’d like support, get in touch with the Prevention and Support Specialist who can provide counselling support regarding your concerns and the reporting options that are available.

You don't have to make a formal complaint to get support from our Prevention and Support Specialist Counsellor.

To make a report:

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