OVERVIEW OF POLICY
Any student or organization found to be involved in any hazing activity will face conduct action and may be subjected to suspension or expulsion from Clarion University. A violation of this policy may exist irrespective of any alleged voluntary or consensual participation in the activity by the person(s) being abused.
For a full version of the Anti-Hazing Policy, please click here. You may also choose to review additional information about the policy in the Clarion University Community Standards, with information starting on page 13.
- Clem was inducted into an unrecognized club that was made up of some members of the Clarion University marching band. As part of the induction activities, Clem was asked to do calisthenics half-naked in extreme heat at the request of club leaders. Clem was told he did not have to do them, but that all members did them and it improved their on-field stamina. Clem voluntarily engaged in the calisthenics. This type of behavior violates the hazing policy, regardless of the "voluntariness" of Clem's decision.
- Rick joined Omega Pi Lambda, a fraternity. His pledge class took an oath not to haze, and was repeatedly warned of the fraternity's anti-hazing policy by current members. Rick's pledge class had heard of the long history of hazing that had gone on in their fraternity before they joined, and they felt like they were missing out. All the members had earned their stripes, but Rick's class was under new rules. They wanted to prove themselves to their brothers, so one night Rick and his pledge class secretly invaded Rho Mu Alpha, and stole their flag. The following Sunday, in a solemn presentation, Rick and his cohorts presented the flag of their rival to their chapter leaders, who accepted it with honor and much conversation about how the covert mission was accomplished. The leaders of Omega Pi Lambda faced accusations of violating Clarion University's abusive affiliation policy. They argued they did not take the flag, and expressly told the new initiates not to haze. Clarion University found them in violation for encouraging the activity by accepting the flag, glamorizing its theft, and failing to report the behavior to Clarion University officials once they were aware of it.
PENNSYLVANIA HAZING LAW
Act 175 of the General Assembly makes hazing a criminal offense within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. "Hazing" is defined in the law as:
Any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of an institution of higher education. The term shall include, but not be limited to, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance, or any other forced physical activity which could adversely affect the physical health and safety of the individual, and shall include any activity which would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment, or any other forced activity which could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual. For purposes of this definition, any activity as described in this definition upon which the initiation or admission into or affiliation with or continued membership in an organization is directly or indirectly conditioned shall be presumed to be "forced" activity, the willingness of an individual to participate in such activity notwithstanding.
Hazing is deemed criminal misconduct and is made a third degree misdemeanor, punishable by a year's imprisonment. 24 P.S. 5353 (Purdon's Leg. Service); 18 P.S. 1101. Colleges and universities are expressly authorized to suspend, expel, or fine students who engage in hazing, and to withhold grades and diplomas to compel payment of fines. 24 P.S. 5354(3) (Purdon's Leg. Service).
Act 175 provides that no student can consent to being hazed. Any activity falling within the definition of hazing activities is considered to be a forced activity, subjecting the organization and its members to the full range of penalties. In compliance with Act 175 and in accordance with long-standing policy, Clarion University has the following regulation: All activities of student groups and organizations, including pledging and initiations, shall be conducted in such a way as not to embarrass or injure participants or in any way adversely reflect upon Clarion University. Hazing and one-way initiation rides are prohibited. Conducting pledging activities at strip mine sites are prohibited.
Several factors need to be understood relative to violations of the university regulation. Firstly, the test for determining if an activity was abusive or humiliating does not rest solely on the reactions of the participants. If it is evident that such was the intent of the activity or the result of the activity, it would be hazing whether or not the participants believed the activity was hazing. Secondly, if continuation of pledging, initiation, or membership was contingent upon participation in an activity, that participation in effect was coerced. Should the activity be disagreeable, objectionable, or embarrassing to a participant, it would be hazing. Thirdly, the consent of the participant has no effect upon the determination of the activity being recognized as hazing.
Additional guidelines for determining the hazing potential of an activity are:
- The activity is liable to be harmful because it involves improper or wrongful use of something.
- The activity is liable to result in injury because the intent is to create an element of danger or fear.
- The activity involves deliberate maltreatment of participants.
- The activity is liable to be harmful due to negligence or lack of knowledge on the part of those conducting it.
- The activity would be degrading of participants because it would subject them to public shame, scorn, or ill-repute.
- The activity involves something which the participants would not freely do because of its offensiveness or unpleasant elements.
Any organization found to have engaged in hazing may have its official recognition permanently revoked. Any student who participates in hazing may be fined, suspended, or expelled from the university. Hazing is also a criminal offense. Any student who participates in hazing may be arrested and prosecuted. Conviction may result in a jail term of one year in addition of any other applicable penalty under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.