Wednesday, January 20, 2016

SLS Intern Contribution: Hazing and UC San Diego

By SLS Legal Research and Writing Intern Sandy Garcia

A new quarter marks the beginning of on-campus organizations' recruitment of new members. While getting involved on campus is highly encouraged, it is also important to be safe. Both student leaders and new recruits should have an understanding of hazing. After all, hazing violates both California state law and UCSD policy.  For these reasons, it is important to understand what hazing is, how to be able to identify it when it happens, and understand its consequences. 

According to the California 2006 Matt’s law (Senate Bill 1454), hazing is any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or student body which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any educational institution. Hazing is punishable under the law, and in cases of death or serious bodily injury, may be treated as a felony or misdemeanor that can result in heavy fines and possible jail time. There are three general categories of hazing: “subtle hazing”, “harassment hazing,” and “violent hazing.”  A brief explanation and examples of each category are found below.

Subtle hazing consists of behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance of new members and other members of the group. Examples include:

  • Forcing new members into personal servitude
  • Socially isolating them

 Harassment hazing consists of behaviors that cause emotional anguish and/or physical discomfort. Examples include: 
  • Requiring members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
  •    Forcing them to participate in strenuous activities

Violent hazing consists of behaviors with the potential to cause physical, as well as physiological, harm. Examples include:
  • Forcing members to consume food, liquid, alcohol, or other substances
  • Physically abusing them 
  • Verbally threatening them 
  •  Forcing them to perform public nudity.
In addition to state law violations, hazing is a violation of the Student Conduct Code. Students found breaking the student conduct code can be put on probation, excluded from university activities, made to participate in community service and educational interventions programs, suspended, or even dismissed from the University of California system.

Remember, hazing is still hazing even when a member has agreed to it, or even if non- student leaders perform it. Both an organization and a student can be found responsible in cases of hazing. If you or your organization are accused of hazing, it is important for you to make an appointment with Student Legal Services and have your cased reviewed by an attorney.

If you or your organization have questions about what may or may not constitute hazing, you can contact the Office of Student Conduct at (858-534-6225), or Student Legal Services Center at (858- 534-4374). You can also report an act of hazing, anonymously if you choose, at

For more detailed information on hazing, you may visit: