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Hazing Prevention and Discipline

  • Responsible Office: Division of Student Affairs, Senior Vice Provost; Human Resources, Assistant Vice President of HR; and the Office of Faculty Affairs, Senior Vice Provost, Office of the Provost
  • Current Approved Version: 03/21/2022
  • Policy Type: Board of Visitors

Policy Statement and Purpose

 

The purpose of this policy is to prohibit and prevent hazing and to discipline hazing when it occurs. It is the responsibility of all individuals associated with Virginia Commonwealth University (“the university”) to encourage an atmosphere of learning, social responsibility, and respect for human dignity.

Hazing is an unproductive and hazardous activity that is incongruous with the mission and values of VCU and has no place at this university, either on or off campus.

This policy applies to all persons and groups associated with the university, including, but not limited to, administrators, coaches, faculty, staff, students, student organization advisors, athletic teams, bands, fraternities, sororities, and other registered student organizations.

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion. Behavior that violates this policy also may constitute a crime under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any member of the campus community who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Table of Contents

 
Who Should Know This Policy
Definitions
Contacts
Policy Specifics and Procedures
Forms 
Related Documents
Revision History
FAQ

Who Should Know This Policy

University students and employees (including administrators, faculty, and staff) are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.

The Division of Student Affairs shall provide notice of this policy to administrators, coaches, faculty, organization advisors, staff, students, and all student organizations at the beginning of each academic year.

Definitions

Faculty

Designated VCU employee with principal and regularly assigned responsibilities that include a significant commitment to teaching that includes the development and delivery of the university curriculum for students enrolled at VCU and/or significant commitment to original research and scholarship that includes the creation, dissemination, and application of new knowledge and/or artistic expression.

Hazing

Any mental or physical requirement, request, or obligation placed upon any person, through a situation created recklessly or intentionally, that could cause discomfort, pain, fright, disgrace, or injury; or that is personally degrading. 

Hazing includes, but is not limited to, acts in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-56 that recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a student or students or inflict bodily injury on a student or students in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, association, fraternity, sorority, or student body regardless of whether the student or students so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.

Hazing also included the following:

  • Psychological Hazing: Any act that is likely to (a) compromise an individual’s dignity; (b) cause an individual embarrassment or shame; (c) cause an individual to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; or (d) cause an individual emotional distress.
  • Physical Hazing: All forms of physical activity that are used to harass, punish, or harm an individual.

Staff

Any person with a direct employment relationship with the university, including those who work on a part-time or adjunct basis. An individual can hold a status as both a student and staff, including student workers.

Student

All persons taking courses through VCU for any type of academic credit, credit or non-credit classes (including auditing a class or English Language Program classes), either full-time or part-time, online or in-person, single or dual enrolled, pursuing undergraduate, graduate or professional studies. “Student” also includes all persons who withdraw after allegedly violating university policy but prior to adjudication, persons who are not enrolled officially for a particular term but who have not officially withdrawn from the university, persons who have been notified of their acceptance for admissions, and persons living in VCU residence halls regardless of course enrollment. Employees of Virginia Commonwealth University or the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System may also be students.

Student Organization

Any student group registered by the university.

Contacts

The Division of Student Affairs officially interprets this policy. The Division of Student Affairs is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to the Senior Vice Provost, Division of Student Affairs.

Policy Specifics and Procedures

Institutional Guidelines

I. Hazing

The university is committed to promoting an environment where abusive behavior, harassment, and assault are never used as a pretext for building character, leadership skills, or group loyalty or unity.

As it is impossible to anticipate every situation that could involve hazing, this list does not, and cannot, encompass every circumstance that may result in discipline by the university for hazing.

Under this policy, hazing shall include, but not be limited to, forcing, compelling, requiring, encouraging, or expecting, whether direct or implied, any individual to participate in any of the following actions or activities:

Psycological Hazing

  • Blindfolding and parading individuals in public areas, blindfolding and transporting in a motor vehicle, or privately conducting blindfolding activities that serve no constructive purpose
  • Confinement, for example, in an unreasonably small, unventilated, unsanitary, unlighted, or very loud space
  • Encouraging or requiring activities that disrupt a person’s normal schedule. A normal schedule includes three reasonably spaced meals per day, the opportunity for sufficient rest at night (at least six full hours) and reasonable time for personal hygiene
  • Encouraging or requiring a person to pretend to or actually violate a law.
  • Misleading prospective an individual into believing that they will be hurt during an induction or initiation
  • Misleading an individual in an effort to convince them that they will not become a member or otherwise participate in the activity of a student organization or other group unless they complete tasks, follow instructions, or act in a certain way
  • Interrogating an individual in an intimidating or threatening manner
  • Kidnapping (i.e. taking individuals to an undisclosed location)
  • Requiring or suggesting that an individual obtain or possess items or complete tasks in an unlawful manner (e.g. for a scavenger hunt)
  • Servitude
  • Verbal abuse
  • Wearing, in public, of apparel which is conspicuous and/or indecent.

Physical Hazing:

  • Binding or restricting an individual in any way that would prohibit them from moving on their own
  • Burning, branding, or tattooing any part of the body
  • Burying in any substance (i.e. snow, sand, refuse)
  • Carrying any items (shields, paddles, bricks, hammers, etc.) that serve no constructive purpose or that are designed to punish or embarrass the carrier
  • Exposure to uncomfortable elements
  • Forcing consumption of alcohol or any other substance, legal or illegal
  • Paddling
  • Spraying, painting, or pelting with any substance
  • Tests of endurance

Other Hazing:

  • Activities that interfere with academic pursuits
  • Forced or involuntary excursions or road trips
  • Encouraged vandalism, or the removal or destruction of public or private property

Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the
above acts; this encompasses observation of hazing activities by individuals in a position to intervene but failing to do so.

This policy is not intended to prohibit the following conduct:

     1. Customary athletic events, contests, or competitions that are sponsored by the university or the
      organized and supervised practices associated with such events; or
     2. Any activity or conduct that furthers the goals of a legitimate educational curriculum, extracurricular
     program, or military training program, as approved by the university.

II. Location

This policy encompasses all acts of hazing whether the acts occur on or off campus. An act of hazing by an individual or organization will be viewed by the university as a violation of this policy, regardless of where the act of hazing took place.

III. Consent

In accordance with Virginia law, an individual may not consent to being hazed, and a victim’s voluntary or willful participation in hazing activities will not be considered evidence that a violation of this policy did not occur. 

Individual & Organization Responsibility

Organizations, acting through their leadership and their membership, are expected to use good judgment to determine the abilities of individual students as they relate to organizational activities and requirements.

Both individuals and organizations may be held responsible for their actions and participation in incidents of hazing. If an investigation concludes that an individual or individuals directed, engaged in, aided or otherwise participated in, actively or passively, an incident of hazing, disciplinary action may be imposed against the individual(s). If the investigation concludes that an organization knowingly permitted, authorized, or condoned hazing, disciplinary action may be imposed against the organization. See FAQ 1, below. 

Reporting: 

Anyone (a victim, a bystander, a witness, a friend, or any other person) may report a violation of this policy. The university can most effectively respond to reports when they are made as promptly as possible after the conduct has occurred. However, there is no time limitation on reporting alleged violations of this policy.  

Any suspected violation of this policy should be reported using the VCU Helpline.

In accordance with Virginia Code § 18.2-56, the university shall report hazing which causes bodily injury to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Investigation: 

A report or complaint of hazing shall be thoroughly investigated by the VCU Police Department, Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, and the Office of Human Resources, as applicable.

Disciplinary Action by the University: 

Any individual or organization found to be in violation of this policy shall be subject to the procedures set forth in the university’s student or employee codes of conduct, and may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or termination of employment.

Forms

  1. VCU Helpline

Related Documents

  1. Faculty Handbook
  2. VCU Policy Student Code of Conduct--Interim
  3. VCU Policy: Working at VCU Great Place HR Policies
  4. Model Policy Regarding the Prevention of and Appropriate Disciplinary Action for Hazing at Virginia’s Institutions of Higher Education https://www.schev.edu/docs/default-source/institution-section/GuidancePolicy/model-hazing-policy517.pdf

Revision History

New Policy

FAQ

1. How does the university distinguish hazing violations by individuals from hazing violations by an organization?

The following statements will help distinguish hazing violations by individuals from hazing violations by an organization. An affirmative response is NOT required for every point to implicate the organization:

  1. The conduct is endorsed by the organization or any of its officers (“endorsed by” includes, but is not limited to, the following: active or passive consent or support, having prior knowledge that the conduct was likely to occur and not acting to stop or report it to appropriate authorities, or helping to plan, advertise, or promote the conduct);
    • What knowledge did organization officers and/or advisors have of the misconduct?
    • What action(s) did organization officers and/or advisors take in addressing/preventing the misconduct from occurring?
  2. The conduct is committed during the course of an activity paid for by the organization, or paid for as a result of one or more members of the organization contributing personal funds in lieu of organizational funds to support the activity or conduct in question;
    • Did the violation arise out of an event that was sponsored, financed, planned, or otherwise endorsed by members of the organization?
  3. The conduct occurred on property owned, controlled, rented, leased, or used by the organization or any of its members for an organizational event;
  4. The purpose of the activity was related to initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in the organization;
    • Were members of the organization acting in concert?
    • Did their membership in the organization serve as an impetus for the misconduct?
  5. Non‐members of the organization learned of the activity through members, advertisements, or communications by the student organization, or otherwise formed a reasonable belief that the conduct or activity organized, planned, supported or endorsed by the organization;
    • How many members of the organization were present when the misconduct occurred or had specific knowledge of the misconduct before it occurred or while it was occurring?
  6. Members of the organization attempted to conceal the activity or protect other members who were involved.
  7. Is there a pattern of individual violations that have occurred without proper remedial action by the organization?