The following information has been prepared by the Student Affairs Office and T.I.P. Social Club in response to continuing questions and concerns regarding hazing activities. This information is designed to assist the reader in understanding McMurry University’s position on such activities and to clarify provisions of the Student Code of Conduct and the State of Texas Law against hazing. This information is intended to be educational and should not be viewed as all inclusive or exclusive in its content and definitions. Specific questions should be referred to the Student Affairs Office or the respective interclub.
McMurry University Hazing Policy
Hazing is defined as any action taken or situation created intentionally or unintentionally, whether on or off campus, to produce mental, physical, or psychological discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule; or which threatens the safety of the student, or which destroys or removes public or private property, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization. Such activities may include, but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the confines of the University; wearing of public apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste or perceived humiliating or embarrassing; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with social club law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of McMurry University.
Statement of Position
Consistent with United Methodist Church philosophy and principles, McMurry University is strongly committed to the development of the student and promotion of personal integrity and self-responsibility. Students, as members of the McMurry community are strongly encouraged to become active in these organizations, students should recognize the responsibilities associated with being a member. This includes the following University policies and procedures and the laws of the State of Texas. Hazing in any form, even the most harmless (perceived), is still hazing and a violation of the law and University policy. As a member of the McMurry community, you are asked to resume responsibility and do all you can to assist your organizations to eliminate hazing on campus.
Hazing is a broad term encompassing any action or activity which does not contribute to the positive development of a person; or which inflicts or intends to cause mental or bodily harm or anxieties; or which may demean, degrade, or disgrace any person. If the activity is consistent with founding principles and not limited solely to pledges it is usually not hazing. If there is the slightest question in anyone’s mind about the activity, there is a quick and definite answer – don’t do it. It’s probably hazing. If you are not sure, ask your advisor or contact the Student Affairs Office for clarification. Always be safe.
Hazing Builds Pledge Class Unity:
It really fragments the club. It does little good to bring the pledge class together if it drives them further away from all the other members. Club unity should be the goal, not pledge class unity.
Hazing Motivates Pledges:
If a club cannot motivate pledges without hazing, they probably have very weak educational programs and very little commitments from members. Hazing actually hinders scholastic achievement, damages self-esteem, and causes emotional strain.
Pledges Must Prove they are Worthy of Membership:
Pledges have already proven themselves worthy by being issued an invitation to join. It is the club’s job to prove to their pledges that it is worthwhile to be a member. Pledges should be held to no different standards than members.
Hazing Does Not Hurt Anyone:
What about emotional harm, damage to club or university image, loss of integrity, and violation of the law. Since 1978, hundreds of college students have died or been injured in hazing incidents across the country. Activities that seem innocent or fun can often turn tragic. It is not worth taking the risk. It is also ethically and morally wrong.
Without Hazing, Pledges will Never be the Equals of Members:
That’s probably true! Members who have never been hazed will always be a little superior to those who have.
- Will the activity achieve one or more of the predetermined goals of the new member education program?
- Would you be willing to perform this activity in front of a University Administrator?
- Would you be willing to tell your club advisor about the activity?
- Would you be willing to send parents of the pledge member(s) involved a snapshot of this activity?
- 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 clubs to use?
Depending upon the circumstances these activities have at one time or another been construed as hazing by universities and/or courts:
- Forcing or requiring the drinking of alcohol or any other substance.
- Forcing or requiring the eating of food or any thing an individual refuses to eat.
- Calisthenics such as push-ups, sit-ups, jogging, abusive exercise and runs.
- Paddle Swats.
- Certain scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, road trips, and kidnaps or dropping someone off to find their own way back.
- Preventing or restricting normal personal hygiene, including the extended wearing of certain apparel.
- Causing indecent exposure or nudity at any time.
- Physical harassment such as pushing, cursing, shouting, etc.
- Requiring uncomfortable, ridiculous, or embarrassing dress.
- Phone duty or answering the phone differently than members.
- Conducting activities that do not allow adequate time for study or cause sleep deprivation.
- Expecting participation in an activity in which the full membership would not participate.
- Requiring members to yell when entering or leaving buildings or when greeting other members.
- Requiring the carrying of any items such as rocks, helmets, shields, swords, brick, paddles, etc. Carrying triangles, shoeboxes, and torches as a pledge at McMurry is hazing.
- Requiring personal service or acts of servitude.
- Treating a person in a degrading or demeaning manor; morally degrading or humiliating games or activities; or verbal harassment including yelling and screaming at members.
- Any action which could be as inflicting physical abuse or possible harm to an individual.
- Assigning or endorsing pranks such as borrowing (stealing) items, harassing other groups, and clothing raids.
- Blindfolding pledges at any time.
- Requiring members to publicly wear apparel which is conspicuous or not normally considered in good taste, such as uniforms, underclothing worn over clothing, or 24-hour clothing.
- Requiring members to walk or march in formation.
- Requiring members to be branded.
- Requiring pledges to practice any periods of silence.
- Conducting interrogations, line-ups or any other types of questioning.
- Keeping the day and time of initiation secret.
- Conducting any type of “Hell Week” activities or calling any pre-initiation activity “Hell Week.”
Develop Club and New Member Class Unity: Have the club membership work together on a community service project; plan a social or athletic event with other men’s or women’s clubs; or attend a movie on club committees, hold sport events with mixed (new/active) teams, have a retreat, or attend a ROPES course.
Promote Scholarship: Take advantage of academic assistance at the Academic Enrichment Center and/or invite University speakers to discuss test-taking skills, study methods, etc.
Develop Problem-Solving Abilities: Have new members discuss club limitations such as poor rush, apathy, and scholarship and plan solution which the club might adopt.
Develop Social Skills: Hold a seminar on table and business etiquette and other social graces; plan a seminar on communication skills, body language, eye contact, and other aspects of communicating.
Develop Leadership: Assign new members to club committees. Deliberately involve club members in campus-wide committees and projects such as MSG, Residence Life, athletics, theater productions, band, etc.
Build Awareness of Club History: Invite older alumni to talk about the club’s earlier years, its founding, special club traditions, and prominent alumna/us.
Develop Career Goals: Host seminars on resume writing, job interviewing skills, and invite alumni to speak on various careers
Improve Relations with Other Clubs: Have new member classes get together to plan joint club or service activities or hold an all club activity.
Speak out against hazing whenever you see it. Have all the new members together against participation in any hazing activities. Find members in the club who do not condone hazing to take stand with you. Then:
- Express your concern to the club president or pledge educator.
- Talk with your club advisor.
- Contact the Interclub Advisor, a faculty member, or an administrator on campus.
A hazing incident may be reported by anyone: a person who the activity directly affected, a person who assisted in the implementation of the activity, University personnel who witnessed the activity, or community members who witnessed the activity. To report a potential hazing violation, contact your interclub representative or the Student Affairs office.
Individuals or groups found in violation of the hazing policy are subject to a maximum sanction of expulsion from McMurry University and possible state legal action (depending on the severity).
Many successful lawsuits have been filed in the United States court system against organizations and individuals for activities and actions, which resulted in mental or physical harm to a member or members.
Charges can be filed not only against the organization but against the president of each organization, the advisor, other individuals associated with the incident, as well as the University.
The advisor and president of each organization must be aware that the burden of liability legally rests with them. Thus, the advisor and president run the risk of legal action if all organizational activities and actions are not carefully monitored, and if they do not halt activities which, in the eyes of the law, can be construed as hazing.
State Law & University Policy
In this subchapter:
(1) “Educational institution” includes a public or private high school.
(2) “Pledge” means any person who has been accepted by, is considering an offer of membership from, or is in the process of qualifying for membership in an organization.
(3) “Pledging” means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization.
(4) “Student” means any person who:
(A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational institution;
(B) has been accepted for admission at the educational institution where the hazing incident occurs; or
(C) intends to attend an educational institution during any of its regular sessions after a period of scheduled vacation.
(5) “Organization” means a fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, corps, club, or student government, a band or musical group or an academic, athletic, cheerleading, or dance team, including any group or team that participates in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition, or a service, social, or similar group, whose members are primarily students.
(6) “Hazing” means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization if the act:
(A) is any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity;
(B) involves sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, calisthenics, or other similar activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
(C) involves consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance, other than as described by Paragraph (E), that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
(D) is any activity that induces, causes, or requires the student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the Penal Code; or
(E) involves coercing, as defined by Section 1.07 (Definitions), Penal Code, the student to consume:
(i) a drug; or
(ii) an alcoholic beverage or liquor in an amount that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the student is intoxicated, as defined by Section 49.01 (Definitions), Penal Code.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) engages in hazing;
(2) solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid another in engaging in hazing;
(3) recklessly permits hazing to occur; or
(4) has firsthand knowledge of the planning of a specific hazing incident involving a student in an educational institution, or has firsthand knowledge that a specific hazing incident has occurred, and knowingly fails to report that knowledge in writing to the dean of students or other appropriate official of the institution.
(b) The offense of failing to report is a Class B misdemeanor.
(c) Any other offense under this section that does not cause serious bodily injury to another is a Class B misdemeanor.
(d) Any other offense under this section that causes serious bodily injury to another is a Class A misdemeanor.
(e) Any other offense under this section that causes the death of another is a state jail felony.
(f) Except if an offense causes the death of a student, in sentencing a person convicted of an offense under this section, the court may require the person to perform community service, subject to the same conditions imposed on a person placed on community supervision under Chapter 42A (Community Supervision), Code of Criminal Procedure, for an appropriate period of time in lieu of confinement in county jail or in lieu of a part of the time the person is sentenced to confinement in county jail.
(a) An organization commits an offense if the organization condones or encourages hazing or if an officer or any combination of members, pledges, or alumni of the organization commits or assists in the commission of hazing.
(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by:
(1) a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $10,000; or
(2) if the court finds that the offense caused personal injury, property damage, or other loss, a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than double the amount lost or expenses incurred because of the injury, damage, or loss.
This subchapter does not affect or repeal any penal law of this state. This subchapter does not limit or affect the right of an educational institution to enforce its own penalties against hazing.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.
Subchapter Z, Chapter 51, Educational Code, is amended by adding Sections 51.932 through 51.936 to read as follows:
Sec. 51.936 HAZING
(a) Subchapter F (Definitions), Chapter 37 (Discipline; Law and Order), applies to a postsecondary educational institution under this section in the same manner as that subchapter applies to a public or private high school.
(b) For purposes of this section, “postsecondary educational institution” means:
(1) an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003 (Definitions);
(2) a private or independent institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003 (Definitions); or
(3) a private postsecondary educational institution as defined by Section 61.302 (Definitions).
(c) Not later than the 14th day before the first class day of each fall or spring semester, each postsecondary educational institution shall distribute to each student enrolled at the institution:
(2) a copy of, or an electronic link to a copy of, the report required under Subsection (c-1).
(c-1) Each postsecondary educational institution shall develop and post in a prominent location on the institution’s Internet website a report on hazing committed on or off campus by an organization registered with or recognized by the institution. The report:
(1) must include information regarding each disciplinary action taken by the institution against an organization for hazing, and each conviction of hazing under Section 37.153 (Organization Hazing Offense) by an organization, during the three years preceding the date on which the report is issued or updated, including:
(A) the name of the organization disciplined or convicted;
(B) the date on which the incident occurred or the citation was issued, if applicable;
(C) the date on which the institution’s investigation into the incident, if any, was initiated;
(D) a general description of:
(i) the incident;
(ii) the violations of the institution’s code of conduct or the criminal charges, as applicable;
(iii) the findings of the institution or court; and
(iv) any sanctions imposed by the institution, or any fines imposed by the court, on the organization; and
(E) the date on which the institution’s disciplinary process was resolved or on which the conviction became final;
(2) must be updated to include information regarding each disciplinary process or conviction not later than the 30th day after the date on which the disciplinary process is resolved or the conviction becomes final, as applicable; and
(3) may not include personally identifiable student information and must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g).
(c-2) Each postsecondary educational institution shall provide to each student who attends the institution’s student orientation a notice regarding the nature and availability of the report required under Subsection (c-1), including the report’s Internet website address.
(d) If the institution publishes a general catalogue, student handbook, or similar publication, it shall publish a summary of the provisions of Subchapter F (Definitions), Chapter 37 (Discipline; Law and Order), in each edition of the publication.
(e) Section 1.001 (Applicability)(a) does not limit the application of this section to postsecondary educational institutions supported in whole or in part by state tax funds.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 18, eff. May 30, 1995.
(b) For purposes of this section, “postsecondary educational institution” means:
(1) an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003 (Donation of Reimbursement);
(2) a private or independent institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003 (Donation of Reimbursement); or
(3) a private postsecondary educational institution as defined by Section 61.302.
(c) Each postsecondary educational institution shall distribute to each student during the first three weeks of each semester:
(1) a summary of the provisions of Subchapter F, Chapter 37 (Appointments of Attorneys Ad Litem, Guardians Ad Litem, Mediators, and Guardians); and
(2) a list of organizations that have been disciplined for hazing or convicted for hazing on or off the campus of the institution during the preceding three years.
(d) If the institution publishes a general catalogue, student handbook, or similar publication, it shall publish a summary of the provisions of Subchapter F, Chapter 37 (Appointments of Attorneys Ad Litem, Guardians Ad Litem, Mediators, and Guardians), in each edition of the publication.
(e) Section 1.001 (Purpose of Code)(a) does not limit the application of this section to postsecondary educational institutions supported in whole or in part by state tax funds.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 18, eff. May 30, 1995.
Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 594 (H.B. 1791), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.