Participating in hazing may jeopardize your future

Now that you have graduated high school, you are looking forward to attending your favorite Wisconsin college or university. To get the most out of your collegiate experience, you may also be considering joining a fraternity, intramural team or social club. Regardless of any group’s traditions, though, you probably do not want to participate in hazing.

Hazing involves making others perform strenuous or humiliating tasks to gain admission to a group. While it may seem harmless, hazing may also put your future goals at risk.

Wisconsin law

In the Badger State, it is illegal to intentionally or recklessly endanger a student’s physical health or safety as part of an initiation into an organization. While many different types of conduct may run afoul of state law, the hazing statute specifically prohibits the following:

  • Whipping, beating or branding
  • Forced consumption of food, liquids, alcohol or drugs
  • Forced confinement
  • Any physical brutality

Criminal penalties

Individuals who violate Wisconsin’s hazing law face a variety of criminal penalties. If the conduct is likely to result in physical injury, prosecutors may file misdemeanor charges. On the other hand, hazing that actually causes great bodily harm or death may result in a felony prosecution. Either way, if you participate in hazing, you may end up with a criminal record that lasts a lifetime.

Educational consequences

Colleges and universities have an obligation to keep students safe. Therefore, the school you plan to attend likely has an anti-hazing policy. If you violate your college’s prohibition on hazing, you may face many educational consequences, ranging from a formal reprimand to expulsion. Regrettably, a record of academic discipline may make it difficult for you to attend graduate school, receive a professional license or land your dream job.

Even if you try to steer clear of hazing, you may eventually find yourself in the middle of a potentially risky situation. If you are facing hazing charges, carefully planning your defense strategy may help you reduce the harm to your future.