Alternatives to Hazing
There are multiple ways to build group cohesion and bond with new and returning members. There are many creative ways to change from a hazing organization to a non-hazing organization. Below are examples of ways to eradicate hazing and make participation a thought-provoking and positive experience.
1. Be intentional about team bonding opportunities
Start meetings with thoughtful icebreakers, take a trip to a ropes course, host a retreat for your E-board, and invite members to participate in focus groups to discuss ideas to improve your RSO.
2. Provide peer mentorship opportunities
Match returning members with new members and provide resources such as conversation starters and mentor-mentee socials to help them connect.
3. Experience LA together
Attend a move, festival, museum, state fair, sporting event, amusement park, zoo, or concert as a group.
4. Plan an event together
Participate in a community service project, host a fundraiser, or plan a potluck, social, movie night, talent show, or trivia night with your members.
5. Support holistic success and wellbeing
Share university resources on career services, student health, leadership development, and more. Host study sessions during midterms and finals, and share study tips and time management tools.
A few points to keep in mind when planning group building activities:
Groups and organizations should develop new member education activities that focus on the mission, purpose, and function of the organization. If a planned activity does not positively reflect on the organization’s missions or goes against the university policy or state law, then another activity should be used. Unity and devotion to the organization’s values and mission will come from truly engaging in activities that promote those values.
- Activities should NEVER include consumption of alcohol by new members.
- Traditions can be passed down but they can also be created. While the first year of a new activity is not considered tradition, future members will see it that way.
- Some group activities can be non-hazing or hazing, depending on how they are completed. For instance, having new members participate in a talent show can be a non-hazing activity. However, it is a hazing activity if members verbally abuse the new members, force new members to participate, or force them to consume alcohol.
- Having current members participate alongside new members in activities, such as a talent show or philanthropy event can eliminate the power differential and shift the activity from hazing to non-hazing.
To help combat hazing and for the prevention efforts to be effective, the entirety of the campus has a role to play. There are various ways that an individual can intervene or disrupt the activities if they see someone at risk. An active bystander is someone who recognizes a questionable situation and chooses how to respond.
The key to keeping your friends and others safe is to learn how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to step in when something is not right. Intervening can make all the difference, but never be done in a way that will put your own safety at risk.
People may become aware that hazing is taking place through observations or stories from their peers. One obstacle to identifying hazing is a lack of understanding and knowledge of the hazing continuum. Look for the signs of hazing and ask questions to receive as much information as possible.
At its most extreme, hazing could lead to death or extreme physical injury. Even alleged minor forms of hazing can cause psychological and emotional scars, many of which can be hidden or difficult to share openly with others. If you suspect that your friend is being hazed but they do not want to say so, talk with them about some potential consequences of hazing.
Even if individuals recognize that hazing is occurring and they interpret the behavior as a problem, they will not do anything about it if they do not believe that they have a responsibility to do so. Taking accountability to interfere in hazing involves changing one’s mindset about their overall responsibilities and shifting to think about individuals’ well-being.
Some people are aware of hazing and feel a responsibility to intervene, but sometimes feel helpless to make a difference. Whether there is a need to encourage someone to leave an organization or report suspicious activity, it is important for bystanders to have some understanding of what should be done or know the resources that are available for assistance.
Bystanders can interfere directly in an actual hazing situation and they can intervene indirectly by working to disrupt attitudes, behaviors, and dynamics that are characteristic of a hazing culture.
Direct intervention includes:
- Refusing to participate in the hazing activity
- Encouraging others not to participate
- Discouraging those who are hazing to continue their actions
- Introducing positive alternative to hazing activities during planning phase
- Reporting the hazing activity
Indirect intervention includes:
- Increasing conversations about anti-hazing education and practices
- Discouraging hazing practices and increasing conversation about hazing being negative
- Seeking out education about hazing prevention and alternatives
- Supporting others who would like to prevent hazing
- Scheduling prevention workshops with Hazing Prevention Specialist
Request a Workshop
USC students, staff, and faculty can request a facilitated discussion and/or presentation on topics related to hazing prevention and leadership. Facilitated presentations are also available for recognized student organizations (RSO’s), departments, or programs. Workshops can be requested by completing the Workshop Request form here. Please be ready to provide the following information:
- Brief description of workshop content (if known)
- Preferred date and time of workshop
- Estimated number of attendees
- Preferred length of workshop
- Location of event (i.e. Zoom, classroom)