Hazing

Students are advised that Massachusetts law expressly prohibits any form of hazing in connection with initiation into a student organization. The law applies to all student groups, whether or not officially recognized, and to practices conducted both on and off campus. All such student groups (including not only groups officially recognized by the College but also final clubs, fraternities, sororities, and the like) must provide the Office of the Dean of Harvard College with contact information for all undergraduate officers by October 31, and must sign and return to the Office of the Dean of Harvard College the College’s non-hazing attestation form by December 15.

The term “hazing,” under Massachusetts law, means: "any conduct or method of initiation… which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.” The definition specifically includes “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." [Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 17]

Hazing is a crime punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. The Administrative Board of the College will consider all reports of hazing in the normal course of this oversight, taking disciplinary action in appropriate cases, and will report confirmed incidents to appropriate law enforcement officials. Where serious harm, or the potential for serious harm, has come to any person as a result of hazing by members of a student group, whether or not such group is officially recognized by the College (either on campus or off campus), and the individual or individuals directly responsible are not identified, the host or hosts of the event or activity will be held personally responsible. If the hosts are also not identified, the officers of the organization will be held personally responsible. In considering such cases, the Administrative Board will apply the College’s amnesty policy (set forth within the section on Drugs and Alcohol, subsection Disciplinary Action), and also may consider as mitigating factors with respect to possible disciplinary action the efforts made by the hosts or officers to prevent the harmful or potentially harmful situation, as well as their cooperation with the College’s investigation of the situation. A memorandum detailing the specifics of this law is available in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College (617-495-1558).

The failure to report hazing also is illegal, under Massachusetts law:

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.

[Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 18]