California Penal Code on Hazing
1. California Penal Code Reads
245.6. (a) It shall be unlawful to engage in hazing, as defined in this section.
245.6 (b) "Hazing" means any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or student body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university or other educational institution in this state. The term "hazing" does not include customary athletic events or school-sanctioned events.
(c) A violation of this section that does not result in serious bodily injury is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100), nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or both.
(d) Any person who personally engages in hazing that results in death or serious bodily injury as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (f) of Section 243 of the Penal Code, is guilty of either a misdemeanor or a felony, and shall be punished by imprisonment in county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
(e) The person against whom the hazing is directed may commence a civil action for injury or damages. The action may be brought against any participants in the hazing, or any organization to which the student is seeking membership whose agents, directors, trustees, managers or officers authorized, requested, commanded, participated in or ratified the hazing.
(f) Prosecution under this section shall not prohibit prosecution under any other provision of law.
SEC. 5. This act shall be known and may be cited as "Matt's Law" in memory of Matthew William Carrington, who died on February 2, 2005, as a result of hazing.
SEC. 6. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
(1) What is Hazing?
Hazing is defined by the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group (FIPG).
No chapter, colony, student or alumnus shall conduct nor condone hazing activities. Hazing activities are defined as "Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule. Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the confines of the chapter house; wearing of public apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with academic achievement, fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution or applicable state law."
If you have to ask if it is hazing, it is. If in doubt, call your advisor or national office.
(2) To whom does hazing apply?
Our greatest contact and familiarity with hazing comes from the active-pledge or new member relationship. If hazing is occurring, usually an active member is harassing a pledge or new member. Hazing, however, is not limited to activities harassing pledges. It is also possible for a pledge/new member to haze an active; an active to haze another active; or a pledge/new member to haze another pledge/new member even if one is willingly requesting this harassment.
(3) What kinds of hazing are there?
The following are examples of hazing by category. It is impossible to list all hazing activities, so this list is not intended to be all inclusive.
A. Psychological Hazing
Psychological hazing is any action that is against accepted sorority and fraternity standards of conduct, behavior and good taste that is mental in nature and which ridicules, humiliates or embarrasses, or which confuses, frustrates or causes undue stress.
- Never doing anything with the pledge(s)
- Calling people "pledgie" or "maggot" or any other demeaning name
- Silence periods
- Any forms of demerits
- Requiring to call members Mr. or Miss
- Scavenger hunts or road trips
- Phone or house duty if only assigned to pledges
- Requiring pledges to carry items around at all times
- Scaring or misleading pledges about initiation activities
- Deprivation of privileges
- Line ups or hot seats
- Verbal harassments
- Lack of study or sleep time
- Assigned pranking activities
- Signature books
B. Physical Hazing
Physical hazing is anything that causes mental anguish or physical discomfort to the person.
- Requiring pledges or members to wear ridiculous costumes or clothing
- Nudity of any sort
- Requiring pledges or members to enter through the back door or separate entrance
- Requiring a person to perform personal service such as carrying books or running errands
- Cold rooms or exposure to cold and heat
- Beating sessions
- Pushing and shoving
- Exercises and calisthenics
- Forced eating and drinking
- Bright lights
Myths and Facts About Hazing
Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional societies and other types of clubs and/or organizations. Reports of hazing in high school are also on the rise.
Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes go wrong.
Fact: hazing is an act of power and control over others. It is victimization that is pre-meditated and not accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and often life-threatening.
Myth#3: As long as there is no malicious intent, a little hazing should be O.K.
Fact: Even if there is no malicious "intent," safety may still be a factor in traditional hazing activities that are considered to be "all in good fun." For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips. Besides, what purposes do such activities serve in promoting the growth and development of team members?
Myth#4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline.
Fact: First of all, respect must be earned, not taught. Victims of hazing rarely have respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation.
Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can't be considered hazing.
Fact: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim can't be used as the defense in a civil suit. Even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action, it may not be true consent when considering the pressure and desire to belong to the group.
Myth #6: It's difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing; it's such a grey area sometimes.
Fact: It's not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions: Is alcohol involved? Will active or current members of the group refuse to participate? Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse? Is there a risk of injury or a question of safety? Do you have reservation describing this activity to your parents, professor, advisor or university official? Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local television news?
Alternatives for Hazing
Please refer to your prospective organization and/or the Office of Student Involvement and Development for ideas that will foster unity, develop leadership skills, develop problem solving abilities, instill a sense of membership, promote scholarship, build awareness of chapter history and pride, and improve the fraternity and sorority community without hazing.