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University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Hazing Policy

While many proponents of hazing hail its virtues (building unity, strengthening membership), the simple fact is that hazing is an antiquated view of developing a strong organization. And in the most base form, it is illegal. 

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse will not tolerate nor condone any form of hazing. 

Hazing Defined

It is the policy of the University that hazing does not contribute to the positive development and welfare of any individual or group. University students, faculty, and staff are all a part of the Anti-Hazing Policy. Any violators of the hazing policy can be sanctioned by the University and/or the State of Wisconsin.

Hazing or "forced activity" means any activity which is a condition of initiation or admission into or affiliation with an organization, regardless of a student's willingness to participate in the activity. Hazing also includes any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off-campus, that produces mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. This includes any action that endangers the health or well-being of an individual, is personally degrading, has an adverse effect on the academic performance of the student, or which violates any federal, state or local statute or University policy. Individual or group consent to hazing activity in no way validates the activity or excludes those perpetuating it from being charged with a crime. Hazing is a process that involves harassment, with or without consent. Hazing can occur within any group. Hazing results include but are not limited to, excessive physical fatigue, embarrassment, humiliation, and mental or physical injury. Engaging in any hazing activity on or off campus is enforceable in terms of University sanctions. It is the responsibility of victims, participants or witnesses of a potential hazing incident to report the activity.

Wisconsin Statute 948.51

Wisconsin Statute 948.51 prohibits any form of hazing. The statute says:

948.51 Hazing. (1) In this section "forced activity" means any activity which is a condition of initiation or admission into or affiliation with an organization, regardless of a student's willingness to participate in the activity. (2) No person may intentionally or recklessly engage in acts which endanger the physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating in connection with a school, college or university. Under those circumstances, prohibited acts may include any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance, forced confinement or any other forced activity which endangers the physical health or safety of the student. (3) Whoever violates sub. (2) is guilty of: (a) A Class A misdemeanor if the act results in or is likely to result in bodily harm to another. (b) A Class E felony if the act results in great bodily harm or death to another

Is it Hazing?

"Hazing" refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate. (taken from

Additionally, hazing may be reflected in any act that is required of new members in order for them to gain admittance to an organization that is not required of the current membership. This may include, but is not limited to, the following behaviors:

  • requiring new members to perform tasks that other members do not need to do (baking cookies, going on scavenger hunts for items not related to the organization, etc.)
  • expecting certain items to always be in a new member’s possession
  • requiring new members to address current members with certain titles
  • verbally abusing new members
  • expecting new members to do personal chores for current members
  • performing sexual simulations in front of others
  • forced use of alcohol or other drugs
  • water intoxication
  • public nudity
  • asking new members to engage in illegal activities
  • undue exposure to weather elements

While organizations may indicate that participation is optional, the university (and the legal system) would consider any participation ("voluntary" or involuntary) as coerced.

Hazing is a form of peer pressure. Regardless of opportunities to not participate, new members may still feel obligated to participate in an activity.

Make the following inquiries of each organization activity to determine whether or not it is hazing. If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” the activity is probably hazing:

  • Is alcohol involved?
  • Will active/current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members of the group?
  • Is there a risk of injury or a question of safety?
  • Do you have any reservations describing the activity to your parents, to a respected professor, or a University official?
  • Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew?

Additional questions to consider...

  • Is the organization’s advisor supportive of the activity?
  • What are we trying to achieve by doing this activity?
  • Is there another way to achieve the same outcome?
  • Would you be prepared to go to court to defend the merit of this activity?
  • Would you be willing to share a written description of this activity for other organizations like yours to use?
  • Does the activity represent your organization and UW-L in a positive light?
  • Would the behavior/activity be appropriate in a community volunteer group?
  • Would an employer utilize this activity as a means to build team unity?
  • Would you put your participation in this activity on a resume?

Prevention content

Hazing Checklist

Often times, hazing rituals/traditions are passed on from one student generation to the next. Consider using the "Is it hazing?" checklist above for each of your group's tradition-based activities. Still not sure? Set up a confidential meeting with the Assistant Director of University Centers to determine the status of your event.

Ask Yourself:

  • Are the tasks required of participants directly related to the mission of your organization?
  • Is there a "hell week" or similar event within your organization?
  • Is your national office, NCAA, or campus student organization office (University Centers) supportive of the activity?
  • Is the activity supposed to be kept a secret?

Alternatives to Hazing: Creating Good Members

Ways to create good members without hazing:

  1. Participate in a ropes course.
  2. Teambuilding activities (can be facilitated by University Centers or campus professionals- there are hundreds of these activities that you can use).
  3. Participate in and/or plan a community service project.
  4. Host a new member surprise party hosted by members.
  5. Have a resume writing workshop presented by the Career Services Office.
  6. Invite a faculty advisor to lunch with new members.
  7. Host a study skills workshop presented by the Academic Advising Center.
  8. Arts and Crafts for a Cause.
  9. Dinner and a Movie.
  10. Shadow an officer and assist in the planning of a program/event.
  11. Plan a fundraiser to pay for initiation fees.
  12. Plan and present a speaker on a health/wellness topic.
  13. Require active membership in at least one organization outside the group.
  14. Host a Family Weekend event.
  15. Have new members take the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Inventor and discuss.
  16. Ask a faculty member discuss ethical decision making.
  17. Ask a campus health educator to do a presentation on eating disorders or depression.
  18. Discuss risk management and liability with the university risk manager.
  19. Brainstorm ways to improve scholarship (other than study hours).
  20. Attend theatrical production or athletic even of a new member choosing.
  21. Ask the library to give a lecture on effective research methods.
  22. Attend a program or even another organization is sponsoring.
  23. Have a discussion about membership standards and expectations.
  24. Have a chapter goal-setting retreat.
  25. Attend a campus leadership conference or workshop.
  26. Deconstruct past hazing activities to determine intent and brainstorm alternatives.
  27. Develop a faculty advisor appreciation gesture.
  28. Give highest new member GPA recipient a plaque or $25 gift certificate to nice restaurant.
  29. Allow new members time for themselves to do and be what they want. Don’t monopolize their time.
  30. Invite a campus fitness specialist or dietician to discuss dietary fads-pros and cons.
  31. Attend the Etiquette Dinner together.
  32. Have lunch together once a week in a dining hall with the entire organization.
  33. Invite your faculty advisor to new member meetings.
  34. Attend an athletic event together.

If you have been hazed, have witnessed hazing, or suspect that someone you know has been hazed, you can report your observations confidentially by phone to university officials in the Office of Student Life.

UW-L's ability to investigate reports and enforce the university policy depends on the accuracy and specificity of the information provided. You are encouraged to provide as much specific detail as possible so that appropriate action can be taken to address the reported behavior.

For assistance with reporting, please contact:

Office of Student Life

149 Graff Main Hall


Additional Resources


There are lots of resources available to assist you as you learn more about hazing. Here are just a few:







If you would like to add a resource to this area please email us!!