Despite the risks and media attention given to hazing, and the resulting injuries and wrongful deaths caused by this misconduct, fraternities often try to utilize access to resources that shield them from legal responsibility. But The Fierberg National Law Group works hard to change the tide. Victims of wrongful death or injury in any form – from fraternity hazing to rape to unsafe premises – work with us to hold fraternities accountable.
What is fraternity hazing?
Every year there seems to be another story about the dangers of hazing, but what exactly is hazing? Hazing, as defined by stophazing.org is “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”
There are three components that define hazing:
- It occurs in a group context
- Humiliating, degrading, or endangering behavior
- Happens regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate
While commonly associated with college fraternities, hazing happens in many different places. Incidents of hazing occur in many types of clubs, organizations, and teams and in diverse settings including middle and high schools, colleges and universities, the military, and workplaces. Hazing is documented beyond postsecondary institutions.
Fraternity hazing is any activity that takes place in fraternities on college campuses across the U.S. These hazing activities fall into three categories: intimidation, harassment, and violence. Some examples of fraternity hazing are:
- Demeaning Names
- Verbal Abuse
- Threats or Implied Threats
- Sleep Deprivation
- Sexual Stimulations
- Forced Consumption of Alcohol and Drugs
- Beating, Paddling, or Other Forms of Assault
- Water Intoxication
What are the dangers of fraternity hazing?
If not recognized, reported, and properly addressed, hazing can become a systemic, self-perpetuating problem. As a result, the environments where hazing most often occurs — student clubs, organizations, and teams — are living-learning laboratories for leadership development. If hazing is happening in these groups, then our leaders-in-training may be learning that humiliating, harassing, or violent behavior is an accepted or expected way to induct new members and build cohesion – stophazing.org.
How much of a problem is fraternity hazing?
In the 2008 National Study, 73% of students involved in social fraternities or sororities experienced behaviors meeting the definition of hazing in order to join or maintain membership in their group. The most common hazing behaviors included participating in a drinking game (53%); singing or chanting in public in a situation that is not a related event, game, or practice (31%); drinking large amounts of alcohol to the point of getting sick or passing out (26%); being awakened at night by other members (19%); and being yelled, screamed, or cursed at by other members (18%).
Are there laws against hazing?
Yes, there are laws against hazing depending on what state the hazing occurred in. Currently, there are 44 states that have laws against hazing while 6 do not. However, the laws vary from state to state and hazing charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.
What should I do if my child or a loved one has been a victim of fraternity hazing?
If your child or a loved one has been the victim of fraternity hazing, then know that we are here to support you and your fight for justice. Doug Fierberg, Jonathon Fazzola, and the team at The Fierberg National Law Group bring over 25 years of experience working with fraternal law, winning justice for victims of violence and misconduct in schools, and working with anti-hazing organizations to raise awareness and promote prevention. Therefore, if your situation feels complicated and nuanced, and as a result, you question if seeking justice will work, then the team at The Fierberg National Law Group is right for you.
Our lawyers have served as lead counsel in lawsuits, administrative complaints, mediation, and school disciplinary proceedings in numerous states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. We want you to have the best legal representation possible. Therefore, through special permission, we represent clients in places we are not already licensed. Additionally, we partner with the most qualified local attorneys available. Our highly skilled professionals leverage our relationships with knowledgeable local lawyers and the nationally experienced TFNL group of fraternity hazing lawyers.