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Definitions, Policies, & Laws

Hazing is prohibited by the Cornell Campus Code of Conduct, the Fraternity and Sorority Rights and Responsibilities, and New York State Law. Groups that engage in hazing may also be subject to consequences imposed by sponsoring departments (e.g., Department of Athletics and Physical Education). Below are the definitions of hazing from the Cornell Campus Code of Conduct and New York State law, as well as the consequences for violations of these provisions.

Cornell Hazing Definition & Policy

According to the Cornell University Campus Code of Conduct (Article II.A.1.f)

"To haze another person, regardless of the person's consent to participate. Hazing means an act that, as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation to, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group or organization, (1) could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or as causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment, (2) destroys or removes public or private property, (3) involves the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or the consumption of other substances to excess, or (4) violates any University policy."

Individuals found in violation may be subject to the following sanctions: 

  • Oral warning 
  • Written reprimand  
  • Appropriate educational tools (such as reflection papers, counseling, letters of apology, and directed study)  
  • Sanctions payable in full or in part by community work performed in a manner acceptable to the judicial administrator. Community work 
  • Probation  
  • Suspension  

The Fraternity and Sorority community utilizes the same definition as the Campus Code of Conduct. When a chapter is found in violation of hazing, the sanctions may include, but are not limited to, the following:  

  • Educational Programming: Chapters are required to conduct an anti-hazing program in consultation with Fraternity and Sorority Life staff.
  • Withdrawal of Recognition: When a chapter has been found responsible for major hazing incident or a series of incidents, the University may withdraw recognition of the chapter for a specified period of time. Members may be required to vacate the chapter facility.
National/International Fraternity & Sorority Definition and Standards

In concert with or in lieu of university action, the chapter’s alumni and/or national/international organization may also impose sanctions. These consequences may include disbanding or recolonizing the chapter. Many national/international organizations adhere to the definition of hazing developed by the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group:  

"Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the confines of the chapter house; wearing of public apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution."

New York State Definitions and Penalties

According to NY State Penal Law, Chapter 716, Section 1 (effective November 1, 1988):

120.16: Hazing in the first degree
A  person is guilty of hazing in the first degree when, in the course of  another  person's  initiation into or affiliation with any organization, he intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes such injury.

Hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.

120.17: Hazing in the second degree
A person is guilty of hazing in the second degree when, in the course of another person's initiation or affiliation with any organization, he intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct  which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person

Hazing in the second degree is a violation.

Civil Penalties

In addition to the consequences of violating University policies and state law prohibiting hazing: both individuals and chapters can be sued in civil court for mental or physical harm that results from hazing. Individual group members and their parents, group leaders/advisors, as well as their organization, and national affiliates may be sued. Hazing on college campuses has resulted in numerous successful lawsuits. See the Denver Post article by Dave Curtain.

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Report Hazing Confidentially