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Hazing is simply, any act for the purpose of initiation of admission into a group (such as a fraternity or team) that may include ridicule, humiliation, harassment, embarrassment, degradation, or risk of injury. It may include forced consumption of alcohol or drugs, abandonment, kidnapping, or emotional harm. We see hazing most often at colleges, but it does occur in younger groups too. In one particularly brutal case, a high school student in Fontana, CA allegedly tried to force a piece of rebar into another student’s anus. A similar incident allegedly involved a broom handle.
A 2008 University of Maine study concluded that 55 percent of students who join fraternities, sororities, sports teams or other student groups experience it. Hazing has been around as long as there have been universities. 1657, two Harvard upperclassmen were fined and suspended for hazing. In May 2015, a former softball player at St. Joseph’s University filed a lawsuit alleging she endured abusive and sexually charged hazing during a weeklong hazing period in 2013 that was so bad that she contemplated committing suicide and was forced to quit the team. We see hazing lawsuits in the news all the time.
Why is Hazing a Problem?
Hazing is a well documented problem at universities and colleges across the country, and schools have implemented a wide range or regulations and programs to prevent hazing incidents. In the vast majority of incidents, alcohol is a factor. According to a 2000 Harvard study, four of five fraternity and sorority members in the United States are binge drinkers.
In an in-depth 2012 article “When a Hazing Goes Very Wrong”, Michael Winerip reported on two fraternities that now have alcohol-free housing, Phi Delta Theta and Phi Kappa Sigma, that have mandated all changer housing be alcohol-free. In the decade before Phi Delta Theta became alcohol free, the fraternity averaged 12.3 liability claims a year that paid out an average of $812,951 in settlements. After the fraternity went dry in 2000, there were three claims a year at an average annual cost of $15,388.
If you or a family member has been a victim of hazing, contact us today for a free consultation.
Our clients have faced legal battles and been through journeys that may be similar to yours. Out of necessity, they have become strong victims’ advocates. In appropriate cases, we will happily connect you to them, as they share your vision for justice and may offer support and unique insight.