ORONO, ME — Sport club participants are susceptible to many forms of hazing, making it an important issue for college recreation professionals, according to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). To address the problem, NIRSA collaborated with the University of Maine on a special three-phase research project. Phase I developed and pilot tested the hazing study survey. Phase II of the study, currently underway, is refining the survey, recruiting institutions nationwide and administering the survey. Finally, in Phase III, the researchers will present intervention models that administrators can use.

Preliminary findings reflect hazing behaviors in college recreational sports participants, specifically sport clubs. To date, the researchers have analyzed answers from 1,789 students, representing four institutions in the Northeast. Students completed 70-question Web-based surveys, which included questions about college and high school experiences related to hazing. The survey requested students to check all of the activities they were involved in and the degree and type of hazing experienced while affiliated with the group. Hazing was defined as “a dangerous behavior, unrelated to qualifications for a group, that one was compelled to engage in to be part of a group.” Preliminary results indicate that one in 20 students said they had been hazed at their current institution. Of interest, the ratio increased significantly when the hazing definition was applied to the student's reported experiences.

The researchers found that hazing was reported across many types of teams and student organizations. Varsity athletes, members of social and service fraternities, band and performing arts members, as well as those who participate in sport clubs all engaged in drinking games, were forced to sing or chant, and got sick or passed out from being forced to drink alcohol. Varsity athletes were by far the most likely group to participate in drinking games, with 60 percent of respondents from this group indicating that they had engaged in the behavior. The findings also indicate that coaches and advisors play a somewhat surprising part in hazing and rituals. Forty percent of the students who reported being involved in hazing behaviors said that a coach or advisor was aware of the activity, and 22 percent said their coach or advisor took part in the hazing rituals.

The research is essential, NIRSA says. It may allow for comparison of prevalence rates among college activities and an understanding of the scope of the hazing problem within sport clubs. It may also encourage awareness of hazing, behaviors common in hazing situations and situations in which hazing is most common. These results may also lead to the development of programs designed to prevent hazing.

The investigators are in the process of recruiting institutions to participate in Phase II of the study. For additional information visit www.hazingstudy.com.

Hazing Study Results

Among all study respondents, the most common hazing behaviors reported by students were:

  • 21 percent — Participate in a drinking game

  • 15 percent — Sing or chant by self or with other selected group members

  • 14 percent — Endure harsh weather conditions without proper clothing

  • 12 percent — Deprive self of sleep

  • 11 percent — Yelled, screamed or cursed at by other group members

  • 11 percent — Be awakened during night by other group members