"Tradition" doesn't cut it. Hazing is abuse.

We Can Do Better: Positive Team Building

Any group activity that has to do with membership—whether it's about joining or maintaining membership in a group—has the potential to turn into hazing. If used to exert control over another person or humiliate, degrade, abuse or endanger them, it’s hazing. See the Hazing Defined page on this website for more detailed guidance on what constitutes hazing and the relevant campus policy and state law.

If you are a student leader in your organization or group, you are responsible for knowing UC Davis’ policy on hazing and ensuring that your group’s recruitment and initiation practices are in compliance with this policy.

Hazing or Not Hazing?

While some activities may seem harmless or part of longstanding tradition, they may still be hazing. If you are ever uncertain, use the following questions to help determine if an activity is likely to be hazing.

  • Are alcohol and/or drugs involved?
  • Will current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they're being asked to do?
  • Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse?
  • Is there risk of injury or a question of safety?
  • Do you have any reservation describing the activity to your parents, to a professor or university official?
  • Would you feel uncomfortable explaining this activity to a future employer?
  • Would you object to the activity being photographed for an article in The Aggie or filmed by a local TV news crew?

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," the activity is probably hazing.

Developing Strong and Healthy Groups

Whenever a campus group comes into being, or brings on new members, there is an opportunity to build a healthy dynamic from the beginning that will contribute to a positive membership experience for individuals, as well as to the group’s goals.

In many cases, members in groups that haze expect positive outcomes, such as:

  • A stronger connection to the group.
  • A sense of accomplishment by proving themselves, earning their place or feeling worthy of membership.
  • Unity and trust among members.

Breaking group members down is less effective for long-term motivation than making people feel welcome and valued. Like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation. At UC Davis, there is absolutely no tolerance for any tradition, rite or ritual that involves physical, emotional or mental suffering.

Source: StopHazing.org, The National Study of Student Hazing [llan & Madden, 2008])

Better Ways to Bond

How can your group develop fun and safe activities for new and prospective members? First, think about your group’s membership goals and unique culture, and make sure all the current members of your group are on the same page and aware of all expectations. Then brainstorm some activities.

The activities below are examples of alternatives to hazing that offer positive outcomes like instilling a sense of belonging, learning how the group works and building an awareness of group history—without the harm and risk connected with hazing.

  • Team building activities (e.g., ropes courses, bowling, paintball, new member Olympics, etc.)
  • Travel (e.g., ski trips, hiking, kayaking, etc.)
  • Participation in intramural sports.
  • Fundraisers.
  • Community service projects.
  • Attendance at campus events (e.g., athletic, arts or social events, etc.)
  • Leadership training, participation in leadership opportunities.
  • Professional development workshops.
  • Building awareness of group history (Invite an older member to talk about the group’s early days, its founding, traditions, prominent former members, etc.)

Source: StopHazing.org


Hazing comes with real consequences, and ignorance is not an excuse. Familiarize yourself with what does and doesn’t constitute hazing and, when in doubt, it’s always better to ask. If needed, running a potential activity by an the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs or the Center for Student Involvement to double check that it is acceptable is a valid and important step to take.