Hazing

To report a concern, please visit Northwestern's Hazing Prevention site here.

For the complete definition of hazing as defined by Northwestern University, please visit the Student Handbook. Below is the policy as written in the handbook, as well as Illinois State Law as it pertains to hazing. 

Hazing

It is the responsibility of all students/student organizations to encourage an atmosphere of learning, social responsibility, and respect for human dignity and to provide positive influences and constructive development for members and aspiring members. Students/organizations are expected to use good judgment to determine the abilities of individual students as they relate to organization activities and requirements.

If a healthy team or organization is being created and the values and purpose of the organization are being upheld, chances are the organization will not have to worry about whether or not an activity is hazing. Hazing leads to dysfunction within the organization and is ineffective at creating teamwork, respect, and unity, and it is an unproductive and hazardous custom that is forbidden by the University.

Hazing is defined as...

...any action taken or situation created, intentionally or unintentionally, whether on or off University premises and whether presented as optional or required, to produce: mental, physical, or emotional discomfort; servitude; degradation; embarrassment; harassment; or ridicule for the purpose of initiation into, affiliation with, or admission to, or as a condition for continued membership in a group, team, or other organization, regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate.

Such actions and situations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any physical abuse expected of or inflicted upon another, including paddling, tattooing, or branding in any form;
  • Any strenuous physical activity expected of or inflicted upon another, including calisthenics;
  • Creation of excessive fatigue, sleep deprivation, or interference with scholastic activities, including late night work sessions, meetings, or sleepovers;
  • Physical and psychological shocks, including line­ups, berating, verbal abuse, threats, and name calling;
  • Sexual violations or other required, encouraged, or expected sexual activity, whether actual or simulated;
  • Prolonged exposure to severe or inclement weather;
  • Periods of silence or social isolation;
  • Kidnapping, road trips, abandonment, scavenger hunts, or any other involuntary excursions;
  • Wearing of uniforms or apparel that is conspicuous and not normally in good taste;
  • Engaging in degrading or humiliating games, activities, stunts, or buffoonery; including requiring, encouraging, or expecting individuals to carry, possess, or maintain objects or items;
  • Requiring or compelling the consumption of liquid (including alcohol), food, drinks, or other substances;
  • Servitude or placing another in a position of servitude, including requiring, encouraging, or expecting a new member to do the tasks of, or to do tasks for, an experienced member, or to address members with honorary or formal titles;
  • Taking, withholding, or interfering with an individual’s personal property;
  • Falsely leading an individual or individuals to believe that they will be inducted or initiated by participating in particular activities;
  • Depriving an individual of any privileges of membership or affiliation to which one is entitled;
  • Removing, stealing, taking, or damaging public or private property; and
  • Requiring, encouraging, or expecting individuals to participate in activities that are illegal or unlawful or are not consistent with the group’s mission or values or the policies of the University, including the Student Code of Conduct.

Acceptance of an activity on the part of a new member or individual does not justify participation in or sponsorship of the activity. Any violation of this policy should be reported to the dean of students or the Office of Judicial Affairs.

Hazing activities may also violate the Illinois Hazing Act.

Illinois State Law

Hazing is illegal in the state of Illinois. Hazing is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, expect in the situation where hazing results in death or great bodily harm; it is then considered a Class 4 felony.
720 ILCS 120/5. Hazing

Section 5. Hazing.

A person commits hazing who knowingly requires the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State, for the purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society associated or connected with that institution if:

  • (a) the act is not sanctioned or authorized by that educational institution; and
  • (b) the act results in bodily harm to any person.

720 ILCS 120/10. Sentence 10

Hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, except hazing that results in death or great bodily harm is a Class 4 felony.