College Revises Hazing Policy

These guys seem to think hazing is fun, but Middlebury disagrees.

Over the summer, the College revised its policy on hazing (click for background information on last year’s hazing incident). In addition to spelling out the investigative process that a group of students would undergo if accused of hazing, the updated policy outlines specific activities that violate the College’s new rules. Listed below are some of the more eyebrow-raising examples:

  • Shaving, tattooing, piercing or branding
  • Throwing substances or objects at individuals
  • Assigning unreasonable chores or acts of servitude
  • Causing excessive exercise, sleep deprivation or excessive fatigue
  • Interfering with adequate time for study
  • Requiring the wearing of apparel or acting in a way that is conspicuous and not within community norms

(NOTE: Sleep deprivation or excessive fatigue? Middlebury, you’re hazing us.)

Violation of the aforementioned activities (among others) may result in suspension for an indefinite period of time, revocation of College facility use privileges and/or case referrals to local law enforcement. Those accused of hazing are given the opportunity to issue a response statement to the Dean of the College to justify and defend their actions.

Perhaps the most important section of the new policy is in the section on consent to hazing, which reads, “Because of the socially coercive nature of hazing, implied or expressed consent to hazing is not a defense under applicable State law or this policy.” In other words, an outside source determines if an action falls under the category of hazing, even if you wholeheartedly agreed to take part. Hazing is a violation of Vermont state law, but because Middlebury is a private institution, College rules take precedent of state laws in such situations.

In spite of the fact that athletic teams might be more prone to activities that border upon hazing, the general consensus among varsity athletes is that not much has changed, though several captains admitted to “playing it safe” to avoid any possible misunderstandings.

Hazing is one of those things where you know it when you see it. Taking part in or encouraging risky behavior can very easily be declared hazing, the benefits of which are insignificant to any and all possible consequences and punishments.

In reading the College’s revised policy on hazing, it seems that we (the students) are not the ones who can say what is hazing and what is not, but rather the College, whose goal is to protect students, school property and the Middlebury College reputation.

Readers, what do you think of the College getting to decide what is or isn’t hazing? Any of you on sports teams or in clubs this year that have historically had initiations? How have you seen the new hazing policy affect those initiations? Do you think this it is good for the community or a detriment to it? Do you think this hazing policy is an improvement overall?

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6 thoughts on “College Revises Hazing Policy

  1. So what is MiddBlog saying here? Vermont State law is to be ignored? Could be ignored? Should be ignored? That students, and neither the State legislature nor the College, should determine if something is hazing? What a confused bit of writing. Maybe you should try again, as you are not really clear about what you are complaining about, advocating, or condemning.

  2. Lucy – This piece was merely meant to inform readers that the college’s hazing policy was revised and now more explicitly states what is considered hazing and what punishments students will be given if they are involved in any sort of hazing incident. Hazing can be difficult to define and each individual might have his or her own idea of what hazing really is, which can very easily cause misunderstandings and complicate harmless situations. The college has not had the opportunity to put the new policy to use (and hopefully it will not have to), but I think that if the administration errs on the side of caution too much, more drama and conflict could ensue.

  3. Lucy, if the questions at the end of the post are confusing you, they have nothing to do with middblog’s stance or understanding of the new hazing policy, they are just meant to find out what Midd students feel about it and how they are perceiving it. This post was meant to get people thinking about the new policy, not to support or condemn it.

  4. Thank you, Luke. Would be interested to hear what options students think the College has when the state law and an organization like the NCAA is so clear on what is acceptable. That seems more important. Who would vote for more restrictions? The more important question should be do students today understand why hazing has risen to the level of having state laws and having the NCAA devote so much time and resources to such an issue? How it can affect individuals and groups? That seems most important.

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