Myths & Misperceptions

Myths & Misperceptions About Hazing

Myth #1: It isn't hazing if the participants agree to it.

This is a common misperception; however, in circumstances involving implicit and explicit social pressures, uneven power-dynamics, and group-think, compromise a person's ability to give clear, unambiguous consent. Under College policy and New Hampshire state law, consent is not a defense. The definition of hazing applies whether or not the behavior is "voluntary." Additionally,  over 80% of surveyed Dartmouth students agreed that "it can be hazing even if someone agrees to participate."

Myth #2: Hazing builds unity.

Most surveyed Dartmouth students think hazing is NOT an effective way to create bonding or initiate new members (Data & Resources). Hazing often results in hidden harm, which cause consequences that may not be seen or be communicated to the leaders of an organization. There are much more effective ways to promote a positive team dynamic than hazing new members.

Myth #3: Hazing a little bit isn't that bad.

Even "low level" hazing, also known as intimidation hazing, perpetuates cultures of harm and can have unintended impacts on members. Any activity that results in a student feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, "less than," or shamed is hazardous and incongruous with organizational and community values. Hazing in any form has no place in college life, either on or off campus.

Myth #4: The hazing policy is vague, and almost everything can be considered hazing.

It can be hard to determine what activities can lead to negative impacts; however, there are numerous ways to promote positive team building and unity that do not involve hazing. An activity constitutes hazing if it is part of an organization's initiation or activities involving members and if they are likely to produce mental or physical discomfort, stress, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. If after reviewing the College hazing policy and New Hampshire state law, you are unsure if the activity is hazing, seek guidance.