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When Hazing Crosses the Line

College can be an exciting time for students — charting their future paths, creating cherished memories, and forming lifelong relationships. Joining a fraternity or sorority may be part of the experience.

Some fraternities/sororities conduct hazing rituals to determine if new pledges have the “right stuff.” In some contexts, hazing rituals may be deemed merely silly, demeaning, or embarrassing. However, severe injuries and deaths spurred by hazing are, unfortunately, not rare.
According to StopHazing, an organization devoted to student safety, over half of college students involved in clubs, fraternities/sororities, and varsity sports teams experience hazing in some form. The most severe hazing practices include forced consumption of alcohol, drugs, food, or other substances; sleep deprivation; physical abuse; dangerous stunts; social isolation; performing sex acts; and committing crimes such as stealing or destroying property, among others.

Many hazing injuries go unreported. Frequently there is peer pressure on the victim to keep the true nature of what happened from being disclosed. Even when new pledges realize the inherent hazards of the rituals they will undertake, some cave to peer pressure, some do it to fit in and strengthen bonds, and others forge on due to personal pride (a “you can’t break me” attitude).

Forty-four states, including NH, have laws prohibiting hazing, including 13 that make it a felony if death or serious injury is involved. Despite that, hazing incidents are still prevalent.

Hazing victims can seek compensation for injuries — even if they consented to participating in the activities involved — from individual fraternity members, the fraternity itself, the college, and/or owner of the premises where injuries occurred. Contact our office for a free consultation.