Alternatives to Hazing
There are always better ideas than to haze at Maryland. If you have a good one, let us know and we'll share it with everyone!
Below is a list of 100 alternatives to hazing! StopHazing.org also has incredible, interactive options to figure out options that best fit your organization.
Ending Hazing – Keeping Traditions: Simple Backstops and Checkpoints
The best way to prevent hazing is to educate new or potential members about what it takes to become a member of that organization. Let them know up front what the expectations are to join and to remain a part of the group.
- Give them a calendar from the start of the new member education process with all expected dates of attendance. This way, they can plan ahead and get excited. This is what faculty members do with their syllabi. Any changes should be made known well in advance of the change.
- When giving a calendar to your new members, use these tips:
- Provide dates of all meetings and events
- Provide a description of each meeting or event in advance. This could be in agenda form, communicated verbally, or both
- Communicate whether participation is required at events or not
- Avoid over-programming. Balance programs to 1-3 per week
- Ask for feedback. If all members are unable to attend events on Tuesdays and Thursdays, program for Mondays and Wednesdays
- Be credible. Stick to the calendar!
- Keep the calendar consistent. Try to always have programming on the same days and at the same times each week
- Give options. If possible, host a program twice so members have options for attendance and can choose when works best based on their class schedule and personal obligations
- Encourage questions and concerns. Encourage involvement. Ask for ideas. Maybe a member has an idea about how to make the calendar even better
- Host an event where your new members can write their commitments (academic, social, personal) in their planners as a group. This will help them foresee any conflicts
Cornell University gives great advice on hazing alternatives:
- Activities cannot include consumption of alcohol by new members.
- Traditions can be created as well as inherited. While the first year of an activity doesn't constitute a tradition, future cohorts of members will see it that way
- Some group activities can be non-hazing or hazing, depending on how they are done. For example, having new members do skits can be a non-hazing activity. But not if members verbally degrade the performers or throw food at them. Similarly, scavenger hunts are not inherently forms of hazing (as any day camp counselor can tell you). But when the list includes things that must be stolen or would likely be humiliating or embarrassing to obtain, then it becomes hazing
- Having current members participate along with new members in certain activities, such as cleaning the group's property, can shift the activity from being hazing (i.e. servitude) to non-hazing
When creating or reviewing new member activities, ask these questions to help you determine if they are the best ones for your group:
1. What's the point we want to get across? What are the outcomes/goals you hope to achieve through the activity and how do they relate to your organization’s values? What do you want to teach them? Ex. New members will be able to work as a team.
2. Does this activity match the point? What activities and events can accomplish this objective?
3. Which are the best? Evaluate and choose the activities that fit your goals in the best way.
4. Is everyone ok with it? Make it clear to participants that all activities should be “challenge by choice,” meaning that individuals should feel comfortable to not participate should the activity be too challenging for them. Please remember, something that is overly challenging does not help people learn. It actually results in the opposite—they shut down.
5. Did it work? Evaluate the activity: Lead a discussion following the activity to talk about what everyone learned. Help make connections with your organization’s values. This is the most important part of the activity! Sample questions include:
- What was challenging about this activity?
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What would you do differently if you could do it over?
- What did you learn about the group?
- How does this relate to being a new member in this organization?
- How can you take what you learned and apply it to the group?