Anti-Hazing Policy

Established: August, 2007
Date Last Revised: August, 2021
Approved by: Officers
Responsible Office: Dean of Students Office
Responsible Senior Staff Member: Dean of Students or designee

Statement

Hazing is a serious offense. The College encourages students to report such offenses promptly. Hazing is prohibited by both Commonwealth law and the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code, and will not be tolerated in this community of trust. All reported cases of suspected hazing will be seriously investigated with a fair process. For more information on the College's conduct process and protocols go to the Student Handbook: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/student-handbook/policies-and-procedures

On November 26, 1985, legislation prohibiting hazing took effect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. All colleges are required to distribute copies of the legislation to each student and to report annually to the Board of Regents that disciplinary policy has been established.

Scope / Responsibilities

All students must comply with the anti-hazing policy. All students have an ethical and legal responsibility under the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code and Massachusetts Commonwealth law to report any incident of hazing that they witness to an appropriate law enforcement individual and/or appropriate offices as soon as is reasonably practical. 

The policy is overseen by the dean of students office, on behalf of the College, and is enforced and implemented by the dean of students and or their designee(s).

Policy 

Introduction

On November 26, 1985, legislation prohibiting hazing took effect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Although hazing is most commonly associated with induction into college fraternities and sororities, the practice can also occur in a number of other circumstances. 

Policy statement

Hazing is a serious offense. The College encourages students to report such offenses promptly. Hazing is prohibited by both state law and the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code and will not be tolerated in this community of trust. All reported cases of suspected hazing will be seriously investigated with a fair process. 

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action. 

Failure to report instances of hazing is also an offense under both the MHC policy and MA Law 269:18. In regards to failing to report hazing, the Massachusetts legislation states: “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 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.”

Policy Violations (if applicable) 

Hazing is a serious offense. Per Massachusetts legislation, if it is determined to be a criminal offense, legal outcomes for those involved can include fines of not more than $3,000 or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both fine and imprisonment. 

Even if there is no criminal case: 

  • The range of outcomes at the College depends on facts of the matter, as determined by the College’s investigation of the report. 
  • The complainant may choose to pursue action against those involved with the hazing through the College’s Grievance Procedures or the Honor Code Council. Students also have the option to seek off-campus legal remedies. 
  • The dean of students or other college officials may also take action to enforce College policy or comply with applicable law. The College may take appropriate protective and administrative action even in situations where the complainant is absent. 
  • Outcomes may include but are not limited to, a mandatory educational project, social probation, suspension, required withdrawal, or expulsion. Varsity student-athletes may be suspended or removed from the team. A varsity team may lose the opportunity to compete indefinitely. Club sports athletes may be suspended or removed from their club sport. In addition, varsity or club teams participating in hazing may lose the right to organize, play and/or compete for any period, including permanently. Student groups may be suspended and student group leaders may be suspended or removed from their group.

Procedures 

Distribution of Policy

All students receive a copy of this policy electronically from the dean of students office (or designee), via the Student Handbook notification and through the my.mtholyoke portal. 

All student organizations are required to have each member of their group every academic year electronically sign a statement that they agree to abide by this policy. The Anti-Hazing form is combined with the required Waiver and Release form on the Five College Risk Management system. Student organization members will be prompted to review and sign the combined agreements when they first log into their group in Embark, Mount Holyoke’s involvement platform. Certain student organizations, such as the Student Government Association, the Frances Perkins Student Association, and class boards that act as governing bodies or represent a constituency based upon enrollment in the College, require only the signatures of officers and other actively participating students, not the entirety of their constituency. 

Additionally, all varsity student-athletes receive and review the policy with a staff member from Athletics at the start of the year/their season, and each student-athlete is required to sign a statement to confirm that they agree to abide by this policy. During the mandatory preseason coaches meeting, all club sport head coaches and a representative from their teams are informed of the requirement for all club sport athletes to complete the Waiver and Release form, which is combined with an Anti-Hazing form, on the Five College Risk Management system. All club sport athletes from each participating team are required to complete the form prior to the first game competition of the season. 

Reporting

All reports of hazing must be reported to Campus Police as soon as reasonably practical. Per Massachusetts legislation, “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 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.” 

Students can also report incidents of hazing to the below offices. Reports should include what happened, where it happened when it happened and who was there.

  • Division of Student Life 
  • Dean of Students Office 
  • Student Programs 
  • Athletics Department 
  • Counseling Service 
  • Ombuds Office 

An anonymous report can be made online through the College’s Campus Bias, Insensitivity, and Discrimination Incidents Reporting. 

Guidelines for policy

Some ways to tell if an activity is hazing: 

  • A selected group is singled out for ritual 
  • It results in behavior or pictures that you would not share with your parents, coach, professors or athletic director 
  • The activity is humiliating, demeaning, intimidating, and exhausting, and/or results in physical or emotional discomfort, involves harassment or ridicule, or which endangers the health or safety of any person whether on or off campus. Remember: what may seem like harmless “fun” to you may be deeply humiliating to another person. 

These questions can help determine if an incident is hazing: 

  • Is alcohol involved? 
  • Will active/current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they are being asked to do? 
  • Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse? 
  • Is there a risk of injury or a question of safety? 
  • Do you have any reservation describing the activity to your parents, a professor or College official? 
  • Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew? 

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the activity is probably hazing. 

Also, consider: Requirements for training on, reporting of and documentation of any procedures should be included under Procedures.

Definitions 

These definitions apply to terms as they are used in this policy. 

Hazing According to Legislation

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 another person. Such conduct shall include but not be limited to whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, or other substance, or any 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.

Related Information

Related Policies

  • Policy on Alcohol and Drugs
    The following policy outlines the importance of the health and safety of students, compliance with state and federal laws regarding the use, possession, purchase, sale and distribution of alcohol and drugs, and highlights the College’s educational mission to inform students so they can make responsible life choices regarding their use of substances.

    Policy link: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/deanofstudents/student-handbook

  • Policy on Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct
    The Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy is a component of the College’s overall compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), relevant provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act), the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Mount Holyoke College’s commitment to nondiscrimination.

    Policy link: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/deanofstudents/student-handbook 

Other Resources

Visit the following website for the complete text of the Massachusetts Hazing Law and review 269: 17, 18, 19: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-269-toc.htm 

Visit the following website for the entire MHC Student Handbook: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/deanofstudents/student-handbook