Huskers Don't Haze

What is hazing?

Nebraska state law defines hazing as “any activity by which a person intentionally or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health or safety of an individual for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership with any student organization. Such hazing activity shall include, but not be limited to, whipping, beating, branding, forced and prolonged calisthenics, prolonged exposure to elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or harmful substance not generally intended for human consumption, prolonged sleep deprivation, or any brutal treatment of the performance of any act which endanger the physical or mental health or safety of any person” (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-311.06).

What are the consequences of hazing?

Hazing is a Class II misdemeanor in Nebraska. In addition to criminal charges through the state, individuals and organizations can be held responsible by the university through the Student Code of Conduct. (See Article III, B.7.)

Consent is not a defense.

Nebraska State Law states that “notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, consent shall not be a defense” (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-311.07). This means that even if someone was ok with an activity, that doesn’t mean the activity wasn’t hazing.

YOU CAN STOP HAZING.

What should you look for when joining an organization?
  • Do the activities match the organization’s values?
  • Do members show appreciation for individuals as well as the group identity?
  • Does the atmosphere encourage growth and academic success?
  • Do all activities follow federal, state and local laws and university policies?
  • Does the organization’s leadership clearly communicate expectations of behavior to all members?
  • Does the organization hold members accountable for actions?
Help is available.

Don't be silent. Seek help from:

  • Organization advisors or coaches
  • Parents or family members
  • Others not involved in the activity

If there is ever an immediate threat, call 9-1-1.

How do you know if something is hazing?

If you are unsure whether an activity is or includes hazing, consider whether it meets the following criteria:

  • Does this activity promote and reflect the ideals and values of the organization?
  • Would you be willing to allow parents to witness this activity? A judge? University administrators? The media?
  • Would you be able to defend this activity in the court of law?

Break the "tradition"

Hazing is a dangerous and criminal behavior, not a rite of passage. Through education and intentional programming, student organizations can develop positive ways to bring members together.

Warning signs of hazing

  • Secrecy around activities
  • Alcohol is often present
  • Members justify actions as a “tradition”
  • Peer pressure for everyone to participate
  • A specific group or individual(s) are singled out
  • Activities have potential for dangerous results or have led to a close call

Remember that if you have to ask whether what you're doing is hazing, it probably is.

Common examples of hazing

  • Forced consumption of alcohol or large amounts of water
  • Body shaming
  • Push-ups, sit-ups or other vigorous workout activities
  • Running personal errands or purchasing items for group members
  • Paddling, branding of any form of physical violence
  • Abandoning, capturing or kidnapping

Myths about hazing

Myth #1 — Unity building
Hazing does not build unity. It separate the membership into "hazees" and "hazers." You won't become one cohesive group when you separate your membership and create adversarial relationships.

Myth #2 — Motivator
Hazing does not motivate new members. It hinders their academic achievement, damages their self-esteem, as well as causes emotional and physical harm.

Myth #3 — Teaches discipline
Hazing doesn't create productive, loyal and obedient members. It instills fear while manifesting feelings of incompetence and revenge. Effective discipline is taught through respect, not by abuse.

Myth #4 — Non-damaging
Hazing damages people and the organizations to which they belong. It hurts everyone in the organization, not just those who are hazed.

Myth #5 — It's fun
There is nothing fun about hurting someone else. True friends will build you up and make you feel good about yourself, not break you down.

Evaluate your traditions — 3 questions to ask yourself

If you are unsure whether an activity is or includes hazing, consider whether it meets the following criteria:

  • Does this activity promote and reflect the ideals and values of the organization?
  • Would you be willing to allow parents to witness this activity? A judge? University administrators? The media?
  • Would you be able to defend this activity in the court of law?

If you answer "no" to any of these questions, it's time to break the "tradition."

How do we change or break the "tradition"?

While change can be difficult, your organization will be stronger without hazing activities. Here are some tips to develop a positive environment in your organization, and remember to reach out to advisors, coaches and campus administrators for help.

Educate
Make all members aware of what hazing is and that it will not be tolerated.

Be alert
Look out for activities or comments that could lead to or indicate hazing is taking place.

Take action
If you have members who are hazing, report it, address the behavior and hold members accountable.

Reinvent
Create activities that welcome new members and make them feel appreciated to create a stronger organization.

Who can help us change programs and activities?

For help planning constructive activities for your organization, contact the following resources:

For Fraternities & Sororities
Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life
332 Nebraska Union
(402) 472-2582

For Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs)
Student Involvement
200 Nebraska Union
(402) 472-2454

For Sports Clubs
Campus Recreation
332 Nebraska Union
(402) 472-3467

Request or download materials

Hazing brochures for current and potential members are available from the Dean of Students Office. Visit Canfield 106 or email dos@unl.edu to request copies. To download the brochures or make them available to members online, use the following links.