Young adults expect to have fun in college and look forward to making new connections through social and extracurricular organizations.
Various fraternal groups include games and challenges for initiation, and this has been a practice for centuries. However, students should be aware of the rules against hazing.
Virginia rules on hazing
The hazing law addresses the activities of groups at institutions of higher learning. The statute defines hazing as intentionally or recklessly endangering the health or safety of another student as part of an initiation, admission or condition for continued membership in an organization.
A person who experiences bodily harm due to hazing has the right to sue anyone who caused the injury. Though the injured party may have participated voluntarily, the practice is still illegal. The offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The statute permits the school leadership to discipline students who have committed an act of hazing. A school official must also report the incident to the authorities, who will take whatever action they deem appropriate.
Common forms of hazing in recent years
Hazing involves any physical harm from initiation, and modern methods include:
- Forced consumption of drugs, alcohol or vile substances
- Beating, paddling or other assaults
- Sleep deprivation
Unfortunately, the issue of hazing remains fresh in the minds of Virginians. Virginia Commonwealth University instituted a day for remembrance and hazing prevention due to a student’s death from alcohol poisoning during a hazing ritual.
While protecting students against hazing is serious, so are false accusations. Young people deserve to enjoy themselves during their college journey, but they should recognize what activities might lead to hazing charges. Students can also decide how to defend themselves legally should an accusation arise.