Student Organization Forum

Hazing

The 70th Texas Legislature enacted a law concerning hazing effective on September 1, 1987. Under the law, individuals or organizations engaging in hazing could be subject to fines and charged with a criminal offense.  According to the law, a person can commit a hazing offense not only by engaging in a hazing activity, but also by soliciting, directing, encouraging, siding with or attempting to aid another in hazing; by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly allowing hazing to occur; or by failing to report first hand knowledge that a hazing incident is planned or has occurred in writing to the Dean of Students. The fact that a person consented to or acquiesced in a hazing activity is not a defense to prosecution for hazing under this law.

In an effort to encourage reporting of hazing, the law grants immunity from civil or criminal liability to any person who reports a specific hazing event to the Dean of Students and immunizes that person from participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from that report. The penalty for failure to report is a fine of up to $1,000, a sentence of up to 180 days in jail, or both. Penalties for other hazing offenses vary according to the severity of the injury which results and range from $500 to $10,000 in fines and up to two years confinement.

The law does not affect or in any way limit the right of the University to enforce its own rules against hazing.  The Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, Part One, Chapter VI, Sections 3.6 and 3.7, provide that:

  • Hazing with or without the consent of a student is prohibited by the System, and a violation of that prohibition renders both the person inflicting the hazing and the person submitting to the hazing subject to discipline.
  • Initiations by organizations may include no feature that is dangerous, harmful, or degrading to the student, and a violation of this prohibition renders the organization subject to discipline.

The law defines hazing as any intentional knowing or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are or include students at an educational institution.

Hazing includes but is not limited to:

  • Any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity;
  • Any type of physical activity, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small place, calisthenics, or other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
  • Any activity involving consumption of food, liquid, alcoholic beverages, liquor, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health of a student;
  • Any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism; that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame, or humiliation; or that adversely affects the mental health or dignity of the student or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution; or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave the organization or the institution rather than submit to acts described in this subsection;
  • Any activity that induces, causes, or requires the student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the Penal Code.

Updated: April 18, 2008