Hazing

Standard Policy of Hazing Prevention and Investigation

Hazing behavior is in direct opposition to the values and ideals of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority, Inc. Hazing, which is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate” (Allen & Madden, 2008), is physically, emotionally, and psychologically detrimental to all individuals involved. Such behaviors are not tolerated by Gamma Sigma Sigma, as we value and promote the well-being of all of our members. Research shows that over half of college students across a variety of student organizations experience hazing, but most do not identify their experiences as being hazing (Allen & Madden, 2008).

Our goals as a national organization regarding hazing are:

  • To promote education, awareness, and prevention of hazing practices,
  • To thoroughly investigate all allegations of hazing behavior, and
  • To hold members accountable for behavior that violated the bylaws and policies of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Sorority, Inc.

Definitions

I. Member: Any individual engaged in any type of membership with Gamma Sigma Sigma. This includes in training and prospective members (ie, rushes, recruits).

II. Complainant(s): The person or persons who report alleged hazing behavior.

III. Alleged: The person or persons whose behavior allegedly violated the hazing policy.

IV. Victim: The person or persons who experienced harm as a result of the alleged behavior.

V. Witness: An individual who was present at the time of any incident in question or who has direct knowledge of any alleged incidents.

VI. Investigation: The overall process by which the National Board of Directors will investigate and determine responsibility in any allegations of hazing behaviors.

VII. Cease and Desist: A written order from the Investigating Officers that prohibits some or all operations of a chapter or colony until further notice (see Staff Policy).

VIII. No Contact Order: A written order issues by the Investigating Officers to two or more individuals which prohibits communication of any kind between those parties.

IX. Investigating Officers: Representatives from the National Board of Directors who are designated to investigate an alleged hazing incident. Investigating Officers must complete Hazing Investigation Training prior to serving in this role. The National President shall serve as a de facto Investigating Officer on all hazing investigations.

X. Individual Investigative Interview: A meeting in which an Investigative Officer(s) interview any members or others involved in the alleged incident(s). During this meeting, members will be informed of the investigation process, as well as their responsibilities according to sorority bylaws and policies.

XI. Findings and Resolutions Report: The complete report of the investigation, written by the investigating officers.

XII. Sanctions: Consequences given to individual members and/or colonies/chapters based on the findings of the investigation. Sanctions are determined on a case-by-case basis within the context of the situation, but will be made based on sanctioning guidelines, precedent, and the presence of aggravating/mitigating factors. Sanctions are recommended by the Investigating Officers and approved after review of the National Board of Directors.

XIII. Burden of Proof: Investigating officers shall utilize the “preponderance of evidence” standard in determining responsibility in hazing investigations. Preponderance of evidence means that it is “more likely than not” that certain events occurred.


Proscribed Behavior

Jurisdiction
I. The policies of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Sorority, Inc. apply to all members at any stage of membership in the organization. This includes: members in training, active collegiate members, inactive collegiate members, alumni chapter/colony members, alumni at large, auxiliary alumni members, and honorary members.

II. Investigation of hazing allegations by Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority, Inc. are independent from criminal investigations or investigations conducted by a college or university. However, these investigations may occur concurrently. Additionally, the outcomes established by a college or university with regard to the status of individual students or the colony/chapter will likely influence the sanctions established by the sorority.


Rules and Regulations

Members of Gamma Sigma Sigma have an obligation to uphold the bylaws and policies of the Sorority, the policies of their college or university (if applicable), and federal, state, and local laws. Individual members and chapters are responsible for knowledge and observance of this and all other policies of Gamma Sigma Sigma.

Participation in any behavior that is considered hazing is a violation of sorority policy. Responsibility for hazing behavior may be determined based on individual actions or the overall environment, culture, or actions of a colony, reactivating chapter, or chapter.

I. Hazing: Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate”(Allen & Madden, 2008). The express or implied consent of a victim will not be a defense. Apathy and/or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are violations of this rule.  The following list represents the types of acts related to hazing that violate the policies of Gamma Sigma Sigma. Although the list is extensive, it is not all-inclusive.

a. Subtle Hazing: Behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between different types of members in the group, for example, between new members and other members of the group. Termed “subtle hazing” because these types of hazing are often taken-for-granted or accepted as “harmless” or meaningless. Subtle hazing typically involves activities or attitudes that breach reasonable standards of mutual respect and place members on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. Members often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group. (Some types of subtle hazing may also be considered harassment hazing).

Examples:

  • Deception
  • Assigning demerits
  • Silence periods with implied threats for violation
  • Deprivation of privileges granted to other members
  • Socially isolation new member
  • Line-ups and Drills/Tests on meaningless information
  • Name calling
  • Requiring new members to refer to other members with titles (e.g. “Mr.,” “Miss”) while they are identified with demeaning terms
  • Expecting certain items to always be in one’s possession

b. Harassment Hazing: Behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort in order to feel like part of the group. Harassment hazing confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for members. (Some types of harassment hazing can also be considered violent hazing).

Examples:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Threats or implied threats
  • Asking members or new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
  • Stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude, or humiliating acts
  • Expecting members or new members to perform personal service to other members
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sexual stimulations
  • Expecting members or new members to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness
  • Be expected to harass others

c. Violent Hazing: Behaviors that have the potential to cause physical and/or emotional, or psychological harm.

Examples:

  • Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
  • Beating, paddling, or other forms of assault
  • Branding
  • Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances or concoctions
  • Burning
  • Water intoxication
  • Expecting abuse or mistreatment of animals
  • Public nudity
  • Expecting illegal activity
  • Bondage
  • Abductions/kidnaps
  • Exposure to cold weather or extreme heat without appropriate protection

[OTHER EXAMPLES: http://www.stophazing.org]

II. Failure to Comply: Failure to comply with or participate in a hazing investigation is a violation of the hazing policy and may result in sanctions. Failure to comply may include:

a. Non-response to members of the National Board of Directors regarding a hazing investigation

b. Non-compliance with orders issued by the Investigating Officers

c. Failure to report to a scheduled Investigative Interview

d. Any attempts to influence the hazing investigation process, including attempts to dissuade other members, falsification of information, coercion of anyone involved, or other disruption of the investigation process.

e. Failure by a member considered a mandatory reporter to report suspected or alleged hazing.

f. Failure to complete assigned sanctions may result in further, more serious actions.