Message to First Year Students
Joining a Group
As a first-year student at Cornell, you have the opportunity to join a wide range of groups, including athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, performing arts ensembles, religious groups, public service organizations and others. Entry into some of these groups may involve formal or informal initiation rites.
Initiation Practices and Hazing
Although initiation practices can help new members become part of a group, they can also constitute hazing. Hazing takes various forms, but typically involves endangering the physical health of an individual or causing mental distress through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment. Often hazing involves pressure to drink alcohol, sometimes in dangerous amounts. Being hazed is serious and can have a significant effect on one's physical and emotional health.
It's Important to Understand the Risks
If you are joining a group on campus, it's a good idea to be an informed consumer and understand the risk of being hazed. Since hazing thrives on secrecy and deception, it is important to be wide-eyed when joining a group. Through the Hazing Blotter you will be able find out which organizations have been found responsible for hazing in recent years. Hazing occurs in many types of organizations, but most official reports at Cornell involve fraternities and sororities.
Frequency of Hazing at Cornell
If you have been hazed at Cornell or in the past, you are not alone. Hazing is a problem nationwide, and many college students arrive on campus already having been hazed in high school. One in three Cornell students (see Research and Theory) will go through an experience that meets the University's definition of hazing. So even if you are not hazed yourself, there is a good chance that you will have a friend who is hazed.
You Can Help Stop Hazing
If you want to help stop hazing, find out about the steps to take and the resources that are available. If you become aware of hazing, you can make a confidential (or anonymous) report to University officials. And if you are hazed, one of the most important things you can do is to resist participating in the "tradition" of hazing the next generation of members. As a member of the organization you will have a chance to challenge hazing and help bring about a change in the culture of the group and campus.
Statement from Fraternity and Sorority Leaders
As stated in the Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Judicial Policy Philosophy,
"the Cornell University Greek community is committed to cultivating the intellectual, social, and ethical development of our members in an environment of freedom with responsibility. One key component of student development is experiential learning; hence student self-governance is the cornerstone of the Greek Judicial System. The Greek Judicial System parallels the University Judicial System and the Campus Code of conduct, which is the policy that enumerates the general principles upon which the Cornell Judicial System operates, provides guidance to the administrators of the judicial system and enunciates policy related to membership expectations."
"As leaders of the Greek community we understand that hazing not only inhibits personal development but can also lead to physical injury and legal consequences. Therefore, for these reasons and others any form of hazing is strictly prohibited within Cornell University's Fraternities and Sororities. We have taken a strong, proactive role to eliminate hazing within our organizations through educational awareness, support for positive member development activities, and strict judicial action for chapters that haze. We provide education on hazing by including an anti-hazing seminar in our new member training program, the Delta Series, and the fraternities have a specific new member training session. We also provide new member educator training sessions once a semester and the new member programs are submitted to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs for review each semester. All new members must sign an anti-hazing form when they sign their bid cards. Our commitment to fostering a positive new member experience is evidenced by our integral role in spearheading such a revolutionary website."
The Greek community is the only group on campus that has a "Sunshine Policy" stating that the sanction and organizational name of any group found to be hazing is public knowledge. These actions taken by Cornell's Greek community create an environment that allows for the development of better men and women in our organizations. An overview of the Fraternity and Sorority Judicial Process can be reviewed at this Web site under the Policies and Laws section.