JMU is an institution of higher learning devoted to excellence in teaching, research and service to the people of the commonwealth and the nation. The university is committed to developing students through academic and co-curricular activities. Hazing is an unproductive and hazardous custom that is incongruous with this responsibility and has no place in college life, either on or off campus. No individual student or recognized student organization may engage in or plan any activity that may be defined as hazing. In addition, no individual nor recognized organization may by physical or mental stress or by subtle or covert technique, impair, make captive, or destroy an individuals’ freedom of thought and choice.
Hazing Policy J17-100
The university prohibits any situation created intentionally to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule in connection with or the purpose of initiation, admission into, or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, or association, regardless of whether the students participated voluntarily in the relevant activity. Students directing, engaging in, aiding, or participating in, actively or passively*, the forcing, compelling, requiring, encouraging, expecting, whether direct or implied, of individuals to participate in hazing activities shall be considered in violation of this policy. It is impossible to anticipate every situation that could involve hazing. Behavior listed below does not, and cannot, encompass every circumstance that can be categorized as hazing. Further, this policy is not intended to prohibit customary athletic events, contests, and competitions that are sponsored by the institution or the organized and supervised practices associated with such events or activity or conduct that furthers the goals of a legitimate educational curriculum, extracurricular program, or military training program as approved by the University.
Hazing activities* include but are not limited to;
- physical abuse
- confinement, or binding and/or restricting movement
- calisthenics or other strenuous physical activity used to harass, punish, or harm an individual
- spraying, painting, or pelting with any substance
- burying in any substance
- exposure to uncomfortable elements
- verbal abuse or harassment
- wearing of apparel which is conspicuous or indecent
- forcing consumption of any legal or illegal substance (e.g. food, liquid, beverage, alcohol, drug, or other substance)
- depriving of sufficient sleep
- burning, branding, or tattooing
- interrogation in an intimidating or threatening manner
Misleading members in an effort to convince them that they will not become or remain members unless they complete tasks, follow instructions, or act in a certain way; misleading members into believing that they will be hurt during induction or initiation; carrying items that serve no constructive purpose or that are designed to punish or embarrass the carrier; requiring or suggesting obtaining, possessing items or completing tasks in an unlawful manner (i.e. scavenger hunts); any act that is designed to or likely to compromise the dignity of a member or prospective member, cause embarrassment or shame to a member or prospective member, cause a member or prospective member to be the object of malicious amusement, ridicule, or emotional strain, or cause psychological harm or substantial emotional strain; or any other activity which may result in physical injury or endanger the health or life of the individual being hazed.*
An individual cannot consent to being hazed*; a victim’s voluntary or willful participation in hazing activities will not be considered evidence that a violation of this policy did not occur. Section 18.2-56 of the Code of Virginia declares hazing illegal, establishes conditions for civil and criminal liability, and outlines the duties of the university when a student has been found guilty of hazing in civil or criminal court.
If your group would like more information about hazing alternatives Student Activities & Involvement would be glad to assist you at any time.
*Denotes major changes to the former policy
JMU is committed to the positive education of new members in the process of joining an organization; this process should create better members through the development of maturity and leadership. We believe that hazing sets a standard that focuses on endurance or tolerance of a difficult pledge education process that should instead focus on achievement of positive standards. Thus the following alternatives are recommended to create positive traditions.
- Develop Leadership: Assign and involve new members in organizational committees for fund-raising activities, community service projects, public relations, new member recruitment and retention, etc.
- Involve your Organization with the University: Encourage members to participate in university committees, the Student Government Association, Freshman Orientation, intramural sports and other organizations; invite university faculty and staff members to conduct presentations
- Instill a Sense of Unity Within Your Organization: Plan special events for members such as a holding a retreat, attending a football game or cultural event, honoring your adviser or having a formal dinner and dance. Remember, retaining members is just as important as recruiting members.
Protecting Student Rights
Because hazing is seen as contradictory to JMU’s mission, the following administrative procedures will be implemented.
- To ensure awareness of the university’s policy against hazing, each organization’s president, pledge educator and advisers will sign a statement on this policy. The statement will ensure that all chapter members are aware of the requirements of this policy; this policy is reviewed annually; and each new member has a copy of the policy
- Student Activities & Involvement Office may conduct an orientation for other student organizations who have initiation and pledging activities. The orientation will be designed to give all members greater insight into hazing policies and laws and their individual responsibilities.