Why Getting Legal Help for Hazing Allegations Is Vital
In colleges across the U.S., hazing is a common initiation rite for sorority and fraternity pledges, but it is also a violation of those college’s Codes of Student Conduct. Students who are accused of hazing violations may face college disciplinary action anywhere from a warning up to expulsion. Because of the potentially severe consequences, it is advisable for students who have been accused of hazing to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
What is Hazing?
Hazing is defined as:
• the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation.
• humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation rituals, especially as imposed on college students seeking membership to a fraternity or sorority.
Hazing can be as innocuous as learning to recite the Greek alphabet, memorizing the organization’s history, interviewing with current members, or volunteering at the local nursing home. However, hazing also often involves binge drinking, humiliation, physical activity to the point of exhaustion, and other dangerous activities that put teens at risk.
Fraternity and Sorority Culture and Hazing
Fraternity and sorority culture put prospective members through a rigorous pledge period. As a part of the process, hazing is often viewed as a rite of passage in order to join the group. It is commonly viewed by members of the groups as a means of building group solidarity, and the culture involved with Greek life on campus encourages loyalty to the fraternity or the sorority.
How Schools Handle Hazing Allegations
All universities and colleges have policies and procedures in place outlining how hazing allegations are investigated and adjudicated. Usually, the following process is used.
Once the school is notified of a hazing violation, the university will begin the investigative process. The specific students being accused will receive notice, and they will be asked to come into the student conduct office to tell their side of the story. The interviews may be conducted with pledges, current members and the organizational leadership. Upon completion of the investigation, the school will then determine what charges should be made against the students and the organizations that were allegedly involved.
After the student has been informed of the charges the school will most likely schedule a hearing where the accused student will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses in an attempt to show the school cannot prove the allegations.
If found responsible for a hazing violation a student could receive the following punishment.
• Restrictions on certain events and participation in clubs or athletic teams
• Probation, suspension, or expulsion from dormitories
• Final probation (If found responsible for additional offense you will be automatically suspended)
Fraternities and sororities that are accused may also be punished as a group. The organization can be suspended or may no longer be recognized by the school.
The Importance of Seeking Legal Help
The policies at schools and universities have become much stricter about hazing due to the national attention hazing incidents have received in the past few decades.
Being accused of a hazing violation is very serious allegation that warrants care if you have been notified of an allegation that has been made against you.
While many students believe that they can clarify things by explaining their side of the story to the school, it is vital that you do not agree to an interview about the alleged hazing incident without the help of an attorney. When you agree to be interviewed or interrogated about the incident, anything that you say can be used against you in both your college disciplinary proceeding as well as any corollary criminal case.
If you are asked to come in for an interview about the incident, and you do not have an attorney, it is in your best interest to tell the school that you would like to listen to what they have to say but you won’t be making any statements until you have a better understanding of the allegations they are making against you.
A hazing adjudication within a university’s disciplinary process can cause permanent harm. In addition to potentially facing such things as suspension, expulsion, or other consequences, you may face collateral consequences that continue long after your case is over. If you find yourself in this situation, please call me at 516-742-2300 for a free consultation. We will discuss your situation and I will give you advice on how to move forward.