II (13). Hazing

MIT prohibits hazing by individuals or groups and defines it as follows: Any action or activity that is reasonably likely to, or is intended to, endanger the physical or mental health of a person for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group, organization, or living community. This definition shall apply regardless of location or consent of participants. Hazing includes, without limitation, behaviors that violate Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269, Sections 17-19 (reproduced in their entirety below).

Endangering mental health is defined as sleep deprivation, extended isolation, public degradation, intimidation, creation of artificial and excessive stress, public nudity, and other comparable behaviors that are reasonably likely to, or are intended to, cause a significant degree of distress, disgrace, anguish, or interference with academic, professional, or personal pursuits.

Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts and constitute hazing as prohibited by this policy. Students and other members of the Institute community must report incidents of hazing that they witness or for which they were present. Incidents of hazing shall be reported to an appropriate law enforcement official and the Office of Student Conduct. Failure to report incidents of hazing is a violation of this policy and may be a violation of Massachusetts law (M.G.L. c. 269 Section 18).

Any retaliation against any person who reports, is a witness to, is involved with, or cooperates with the adjudication of hazing is strictly prohibited. 

Prohibited forms of hazing include but are not limited to:

  • Subtle Hazing: Behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between new members and other members of the group or community. This is 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 new members on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. New members often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group or community.
    • Examples of subtle hazing include but are not limited to:
      • Deception
      • Silence periods
      • Deprivation of privileges
      • Social isolation
      • Name calling
      • Assignment of duties not assigned to other members.
  • Harassment Hazing: Behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort in order to feel like part of the group. Harassment hazing often confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for new members.
    • Examples of harassment hazing include but are not limited to:
      • Verbal abuse
      • Threats or implied threats
      • Sexual simulations
      • Requiring situationally inappropriate attire
      • Sleep deprivation.
  • Violent Hazing: Behaviors that do or could cause physical or psychological harm.
    • Examples of violent hazing include but are not limited to:
      • Placing students in the shower against their will
      • Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
      • Forced or coerced sexual acts
      • Beating
      • Paddling, or other forms of assault
      • Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances
      • Bondage
      • Kidnapping
      • Expected participation in illegal activity.

The sanction of disciplinary suspension or disciplinary expulsion will be strongly considered for individuals or groups found responsible for hazing.

Massachusetts Hazing Law

In addition to the foregoing, students are advised that the following is the Massachusetts law on hazing:

Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.

The term “hazing” as used in this section and in sections eighteen and nineteen, shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action.” M.G.L. c. 269 Section 17.

Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such a person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable. Whoever fails to report such crime shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.” M.G.L. c. 269 Section 18.

Each institution of secondary education and each public and private institution of post secondary education shall issue to every student group, student team or student organization which is part of such institution or is recognized by the institution or permitted by the institution to use its name or facilities or is known by the institution to exist as an unaffiliated student group, student team or student organization, a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen; provided, however, that an institution’s compliance with this section’s requirements that an institution issue copies of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations shall not constitute evidence of the institution’s recognition or endorsement of said unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations.

Each such group, team or organization shall distribute a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to each of its members, plebes, pledges or applicants for membership. It shall be the duty of each such group, team or organization, acting through its designated officer, to deliver annually, to the institution an attested acknowledgement stating that such group, team or organization has received a copy of this section and said sections seventeen and eighteen, that each of its members, plebes, pledges, or applicants has received a copy of sections seventeen and eighteen, and that such group, team or organization understands and agrees to comply with the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen.

Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall, at least annually, before or at the start of enrollment, deliver to each person who enrolls as a full time student in such institution a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen.

Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall file, at least annually, a report with the board of higher education and in the case of secondary institutions, the board of education, certifying that such institution has complied with its responsibility to inform student groups, teams or organizations and to notify each full time student enrolled by it of the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen and also certifying that said institution has adopted a disciplinary policy with regard to the organizers and participants of hazing, and that such policy has been set forth with appropriate emphasis in the student handbook or similar means of communicating the institution’s policies to its students. The board of higher education and, in the case of secondary institutions, the board of education shall promulgate regulations governing the content and frequency of such reports, and shall forthwith report to the attorney general any such institution which fails to make such report. M.G.L. c. 269 Section 19.

For further information about hazing and hazing prevention efforts at MIT, visit MIT’s hazing resources website or contact the Office of Student Outreach and Support in W20-507 or 617-258-8423.

Please note there is a confidential form to report hazing available for public use.