The University of Newcastle, Australia

#NoRoomFor Hazing

What is it?

Hazing is a practice which may be used to initiate people into an established group. It involves behaviour which is intended to physically or psychologically stress, harass or humiliate the person being initiated. It is often seen as being part of the ‘tradition’ of that group, and as essential to membership.

While those being initiated into the group may provide their consent, or seem willing to take part in these activities, the practice of hazing is an abuse of power by senior figures within a community, and supports the notion of hierarchies, pecking orders, and the perceived worth of individuals.

Any activity where an established group member (often an older student, or a student who has been at the uni for longer), asks or encourages a new group member to take part in something that could lead to humiliation, or physical or emotional harm, can be classed as hazing.

Hazing can include a wide range of activities, and asking yourselves these questions can help you identify the experience:

  • Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents/elders were watching?
  • Would we be in trouble if a staff member walked by and saw us?
  • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Does participation in this activity violate my values or those of the University- See UON’s Code of Conduct?
  • Is what I’m participating in, or witnessing, causing emotional or physical distress, or stress to myself or to others?

Some examples of hazing include, but are not limited to:

  • Forcing, requiring or supporting consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol or any other drug; or undesirable substances such as spoiled food.
  • Forcing, requiring or supporting individuals to receive haircuts, wear certain clothing, carry particular items with them, or other similar activities that identify them as members of a group rather than as individuals.
  • Forcing an individual to participate in an activity that challenges and/or humiliates their culture, gender, sexuality, sex, religion, race, age, ability or body.
  • Forcing, requiring or supporting ‘nudie runs’, being questioned under uncomfortable situations, or performing personal services to current members such as carrying their books, doing their laundry, buying them food or similar.
  • Providing individuals with a list of activities that they must complete that have the potential to harm the individual (physically or emotionally), are illegal, or risk the reputation of the individual and the University of Newcastle.
  • Hazing can also be more subtle, such as name calling, ignoring new members, or other forms of harassment.

The Impact

Hazing is often about power, control and establishing dominance. Hazing does not build community, in fact the opposite, it creates division, separates people into groups and creates ‘othering’ (‘othering’ means viewing an individual or group as ‘not one of us’)

The impact of hazing can be significant for everyone involved.

For the victim/survivor:

  • Physical, emotional, and/or mental harm including anxiety, embarrassment, shame, depressed mood, risk of suicide
  • Loss of sense of control and trust
  • Avoidance of other social activities
  • Decline in grades and participation in studies
  • Loss of respect for and interest in being part of the University of Newcastle and possibly broader community
  • Illness or hospitalisation
  • Additional effects on family and friends

For the hazer:

  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Distorted sense of leadership
  • Damage to personal reputation
  • Risk of university misconduct, criminal or civil consequences
  • Media scrutiny
  • Potential rejection by prospective employers who become aware of the hazing activity

For the community or group

  • Reinforces and condones this behaviour for continuing students
  • Conflict between the members of the group
  • It may drive away new members
  • Media scrutiny and damage to the reputation of the group
  • Conflicts with alumni and other supporters of the University

What we can do

Take Action

If you see it: Have you identified a problem?

Get help. Remember to consider everyone’s safety including your own. Getting help from staff or security may be the best option. If you live on campus you can contact Student Living for assistance 24/7 on 4913 8888

You CAN act: There are a number of ways you could respond. If it is safe to do so, let the person experiencing the behaviour know that it not an expectation of the community to participate, and it is not a supported practice.  If participation in the activity goes ahead; check in with them after the incident, and offer your support to seek assistance in dealing with the incident.

Call the behaviour out! Let the person organising or administering the hazing know that the actions are not ok, or question what they are trying to achieve by doing it. Remind them that it is not in line with the beliefs of the community, and jeopardises their position at the University.

Report the incident

Concerns for the immediate safety of anyone at any time should be reported directly to Security Services. If you live on campus you can also contact Student Living for assistance and support 24/7 on 4913 8888.

You can also report to the University after the incident has occurred through the online portal  or contacting Campus Care on4921 8600 or campuscare@newcastle.edu.au

If you experience it:

Maybe it seemed ok at the time, but now you’re not so sure and feel strange or worried about the experience. Maybe you never felt ok about it, but didn’t think you had a choice. You may be impacted by it in ways you weren’t expecting.

Confidential counselling and support is available.

For support and advice outside of business hours – 5pm-9am weekdays, 24 hours on weekends and public holidays – contact the UON After-hours Crisis Support Line.

  • Ph: 1300 653 007
  • SMS: 0488 884 165

Free Translating and Interpreting Service

A free interpreting service is available for people who do not speak English.

This service can be used with selected organisations, including Lifeline, the UON Crisis Support Line, UON Counselling and emergency services.

To access this service, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask to talk to the organisation you need (e.g., Lifeline on 13 11 14) in the language required. TIS will then call the organisation, and provide translation.

A call to Translating and Interpreting Service is the cost of a local call from landlines (additional charges apply for mobiles).

You may also wish to make a report about the incident through the online portal or contact Campus Care on 4921 8600 or campuscare@newcastle.edu.au


References

Georgetown University (n.d.) Why do people haze? Retrieved from https://stophazing.georgetown.edu/why-do-people-haze

Lipkins, S. (2014) Inside Hazing. Retrieved from https://www.insidehazing.com/definitions

Hazing Prevention.Org; hazing and its consequences; retrieved from https://hazingprevention.org/home/hazing/hazing-and-its-consequences/

Resources For students and staff