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Which student organization initiation rituals count as hazing?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

One of the highlights of college life is joining a student organization that matches your interests. Whether it’s the school newspaper, cheerleading squad, sports teams, fraternities or sororities, there’s a group for everyone.

However, some organizations turn to hazing when inducting new members. Hazing is any activity or punishment forced on prospective members designed to humiliate or degrade the person. This usually takes the form of some physical or psychological abuse.

Hazing is an offense in 44 states, including in Connecticut. Steep penalties await those who break this law.

What the law says about hazing

According to state law, hazing refers to any action which recklessly or intentionally endangers the health or safety of a person, for admission or continued membership in a student organization.

Hazing can include, but isn’t limited to the following activities:

  • Indecent exposure: Forcing members to strip down naked
  • Inducing mental stress: Requiring members to undergo sleep deprivation or extended isolation
  • Confinement: Locking members up in unreasonably small, unventilated, unclean or poorly-lit areas
  • Assault: Inflicting physical harm upon members
  • Forced ingestion: Coercing members to drink, eat or take in any substance that could adversely affect their health

The law also says that the implied or express consent of the victim isn’t a defense against an accusation of hazing.

Penalties for hazing

If a student organization violates Connecticut’s anti-hazing laws it must pay as much as $1,500 in fines. It will also have to forfeit its rights and privileges as a student organization for up to a year

But if an individual member of an organization is convicted of the offense, they will have to pay as much as $1,000 in fines.

Hazing may not be as severe as other criminal offenses, but it’s still prohibited in Connecticut. More dangerous hazing activities can also lead to student injuries and even deaths, which may result in actual criminal charges filed. Any student or organization facing accusations of hazing should consult a legal professional to understand their rights and defense options.