About Hazing

James Madison University is an institution of higher education devoted to excellence in teaching, research, and service to the people of the Commonwealth and the nation.  The university is committed to developing students through academic and co-curricular activities.  Hazing is an unproductive and hazardous custom that is incongruous with this responsibility and has no place in college life, either on or off-campus.  No individual student or recognized student organization may engage in or plan any activity or situation that may be defined as hazing.  In addition, no individual nor recognized organization my by physical or mental stress or by subtle or covert technique impair, make captive, or destroy an individual’s freedom of thought and choice.  As members of the JMU community, we have a legal and moral obligation to promote an atmosphere that is free of hazing ‑ the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life contributes to this directive through a variety of policies, procedures, and programs.

From the JMU Student Handbook:

The university prohibits hazing, including any activity or behavior that creates emotional distress, physical discomfort, embarrassment, shame, harassment, malicious amusement, or ridicule in connection with or the purpose of initiation, admission into, or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, or association, regardless of whether the student effected participates voluntarily in the relevant activity. Students directing, engaging in, aiding, or participating in, actively or passively, the forcing, compelling, requiring, encouraging, or expecting, whether direct or implied, of individuals to participate in hazing activities shall be considered in violation of this policy.

It is impossible to anticipate every situation that could involve hazing. The behavior listed below does not and cannot encompass every circumstance that can be categorized as hazing, but this policy does in some circumstances prohibit activities beyond those outlined by the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia’s model hazing policy. Further, this policy is not intended to prohibit customary athletic events, contests, competitions, or training that are sponsored by the University, the organized and supervised practices associated with such events, or activity or conduct that furthers the goals of a legitimate curriculum or program as approved by the University.

Hazing activities shall include, but not be limited to, forcing, compelling, requiring, encouraging, or expecting, whether direct or implied, any individual to participate in any of the following actions or activities: paddling; kidnapping; all forms of physical activity which are used to harass, punish, or harm an individual; excursions or road trips; confinement; spraying, painting, or pelting with any substance; burying in any substance; nudity with the intent to cause embarrassment; servitude; exposure to uncomfortable elements; verbal abuse; wearing, in public, of apparel which is conspicuous and/or indecent; forcing consumption of alcohol or any other substance, legal or illegal; depriving students of sufficient sleep (six consecutive hours per day is normally considered to be a minimum); burning, branding, or tattooing any part of the body; psychological hazing, defined as any act which is likely to: (a) Compromise an individual’s dignity; (b) Cause an individual embarrassment or shame; (c) Cause an individual to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; or (d) Cause an individual emotional distress; interrogating an individual in an intimidating or threatening manner; misleading prospective members in an effort to convince them that they will not become members unless they complete tasks, follow instructions, or act in a certain way; misleading prospective members into believing that they will be hurt during induction or initiation; carrying any items (shields, paddles, bricks, hammers, etc.) that serve no constructive purpose or that are designed to punish or embarrass the carrier; blindfolding and parading individuals in public areas, blindfolding and transporting in a motor vehicle, or privately conducting blindfolding activities that serve no constructive purpose; binding or restricting an individual in any way that would prohibit them from moving on their own; and requiring or suggesting that an individual obtain or possess items or complete tasks in an unlawful manner (i.e. for a scavenger hunt). Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the above acts.

An individual cannot consent to be hazed; a victim’s voluntary or willful participation in hazing activities will not be considered evidence that a violation of this policy did not occur.

Section 18.2-56 of the Code of Virginia declares hazing illegal, establishes conditions for civil and criminal liability and outlines the duties of the university when a student has been found guilty of hazing in civil or criminal court.

From the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life Standards Policy:
Article IV:  Hazing
Section I.  No chapter, colony, student, or alumnus shall permit, tolerate, encourage, or participate in hazing activities.

Section II.  Hazing activities are defined as:
“Any situation created intentionally to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Hazing is defined as on or off-campus activities for the initiation or induction into an organization which includes but are not limited to calisthenics or other strenuous physical activity; exposure to inclement weather; consumption of any food, liquid, beverage, drug, or other substance; confinement in any room or compartment; spraying, painting, or pelting with any substance; burying in any substance; burning, branding, or tattooing; or any other activity which may result in physical injury or endanger the health or life of the individual being hazed, regardless of implied or expressed consent of the victim(s).”

Reporting Hazing
The Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life takes all hazing allegations seriously.  We will follow up and investigate hazing allegations to the fullest extent of our capabilities and the law.  There are several options to report hazing:

  • If you feel that an individual is in immediate danger, please contact the James Madison University Police Department by calling (540) 568-6911.
  • Contact the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life by calling (540) 568-4195, submitting an email to fsl@jmu.edu, or filling out our Anonymous Hazing Reporting Form.
  • Contact the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices by calling (540) 568-6218.

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