Hazing often occurs within groups. At Penn, hazing is most often perpetuated by student organizations. Unfortunately hazing undermines Penn’s efforts to create a community based on mutual respect and personal well-being. Within this website faculty, staff, students and alumni will find education on hazing, resources to report hazing concerns, and best practices for organizations interested in improving their organizational culture.
What is Hazing?
There are many different definitions of hazing which exist within the Penn community. Many people assume that if an activity has willing participants and will not be fatal that it does not count as hazing. That is incorrect. Much of hazing comes down to issues of power and exploiting that dynamic within a student organization. This definition from HazingPrevention.org is a good reference to increase understanding of this nuanced issue:
Hazing is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.
Rethink Hazing Campaign
Hazing is often justified by groups because they believe their activities are not as bad as hazing activities in which other groups participate. What many students don’t consider is that virtually no one starts hazing their members in extreme ways from the start. These are activities which grow from year to year and build a tolerance within the organization for riskier and more problematic behavior. The posters below highlight activities common at Penn which may seem harmless but do little to encourage true bonding or team development. These activities also do little to build a member’s skills to make them a better contributor to the group. Most importantly, being “on call” can result in lack of sleep, an inability to shake minor illness and may even be triggering for some members based on their lived experiences. Ultimately, consider how your membership practices support the overall wellness of your members, an issue Penn students have very clearly articulated as a value in our community.
This video, made by Penn students, illustrates how small things can lead to big risks.