Quick litmus test...

Ezra-with-hat.jpg

Would you feel comfortable telling a relative or a future employer about the activity in question?

If not, consider making a hazing report.

Hazing is prohibited by the Cornell Campus Code of Conduct and New York State Law.  

Cornell Campus Code of Conduct

The Cornell University Campus Code of Conduct (Article II.A.1.f) definition of hazing applies to all registered organizations, intercollegiate athletic teams, social fraternities and sororities, and other groups (e.g., academic project teams):

"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."

Key elements of this broad definition include the following:

  • Acts can be hazing even if the person being hazed is willing to participate. 
  • While hazing typically involves new members, current members of a group can be hazed.
  • A “reasonable person” refers to how a typical or average person would view the activity.
  • Hazing can take physical or mental forms.
  • Any use of alcohol as a condition of joining a group is prohibited, regardless of quantity or willingness of the person to consume it.

Examples of hazing

Joining a group should never involve:

  • sleep deprivation
  • eating gross stuff
  • acts of exertion 
  • isolation from the group
  • acts of servitude
  • alcohol

Context matters

Note: while some behaviors constitute hazing regardless of context (e.g., paddling, use of alcohol), others depend on the circumstances. For example, requiring athletes to perform normal calisthenics as part of conditioning would not be hazing, but requiring new members of a non-athletic student organization to do push-ups in the middle of the night would constitute hazing.

Hazing can result in a range of sanctions against organizations/teams and individuals that range from educational interventions to suspension or expulsion.

New York State Definitions & Penalties

New York State Hazing Law

According to NY State Penal Law, Chapter 716, Section 1:

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

Members and their parents, group leaders/advisors, as well as their organization and national affiliates may be sued in civil court for mental or physical harm that results from hazing. Hazing on college campuses has resulted in numerous successful lawsuits.