Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life
COLLEGE HAZING POLICY
Students who are members of or are interested in becoming members of fraternities or sororities at Ramapo College are required to read and agree to abide by the Potential New Member (PNM) Bill of Rights. Their signatures indicate acceptance of this responsibility. Hazing includes organizing, engaging in, facilitating, or promoting any conduct that places or may place another person in danger of bodily injury (the consent of those hazed will not be accepted as a defense). Hazing and aggravated hazing are also crimes punishable under the provisions of Title 2C of the Statutes of the State of New Jersey. Failure to comply with any of the standards or requirements outlined in the New Member Bill of Rights (developed by the Attorney General of the State of NJ pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A: 3-24 et. Seq.) will be considered a violation of the Code of Conduct. Subsequent changes in hazing laws are automatically included in the Code upon their adoption.
According to New Jersey law an individual is guilty of hazing if, “in connection with the initiation of applicants to or members of a student or fraternal organization, he knowingly or recklessly organizes, promotes, facilitates or engages in any conduct, other than competitive athletic events, which places or may place another person in danger of bodily injury.” Additionally, “a person is guilty of aggravated hazing, a crime of the fourth degree, if he/she commits an act prohibited… which results in serious bodily injury to another person.”
Ramapo College defines hazing as:
“Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol during pnm activities; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the campus; wearing of public apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with academic achievement, fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution or applicable state law.”
Depending upon circumstances, these activities have at one time or another been construed as hazing by the courts and/or institutions of higher education. Such actions are often required or implied as conditions of inclusion or exclusion from a group, formal or informal. Thus, hazing may be perpetrated by individual(s), group(s), or part(s) of a group. Below are examples of hazing activities prohibited by College policy.
Examples of Hazing Activities Prohibited by Ramapo College:
- Requiring any form of exercise or physical activity (such as crunches, push-ups, running, lunges, carrying heavy items, standing for long periods of time)
- Requiring a regimented public demeanor, i.e. marching, military-like demeanor, limiting use of automatic doors, restricting walking patterns, prescribing set walking formations, such as single file, or cutting corners.
- Not permitting individuals to speak for extended periods of time and/or forced exclusion from social contact; prohibition from speaking with College officials, faculty, employers/clients, club membership or leadership or roommates or prohibition from speaking with family/friends even in emergency situations.
- Requiring individuals to walk or march in formation of any kind
- Publically wearing apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste (uniforms, head apparel, boots/shoes, etc.)
- Not permitting individuals to speak for extended periods of time and/or forced exclusion from social contact
- Requiring the ingestion of any substance i.e., spoiled food, drink, concoctions, water, hot sauce
- Prolonged exposure to the elements
- Physical assault/harassment i.e., branding, blindfolding or hand-tying, beating
- Requiring dietary intake in any way i.e., food restrictions, limitations, designating diet, healthy or otherwise
- Conducting activities that do not allow adequate time for study or sleep
- Requiring prescribed greetings or recitation as part of pnm activities/pnm program in academic areas
- Deprivation of or interference with the maintenance of a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness
- Expecting certain items to always be in one’s possession that have no significance to the organization (as stated by the governing body) or that are physicallyburdensome or potentially dangerous i.e., pnm book, rock, bricks, pumpkin, stuffed animal etc.
- Engaging in unauthorized activities which involve compelling an individual or group of individuals to remain at a certain location or transporting anyone anywhere, within or outside the township of Mahwah i.e., road trips, treasure and scavenger hunts, kidnapping, sneaks, drop-offs, etc.
- Forcing pnm’s to perform individual acts or acts as a group which are crude, degrading and meant to embarrass and/or humiliate, i.e., acting like an animal, simulating sexual acts
- Assigning or endorsing pranks such as borrowing or stealing items, painting property and objects of others, or harassing other individuals or groups
- Non-physical harassment including yelling and screaming or calling individuals demeaning names
- Requiring any personal servitude to another individual or group such as running errands, cleaning, making food runs, cooking, performing someone else’s academic work, requiring a pnm to be a designated driver* even if not involved in the activity
* this in no way should impede designated driver programs within chapters
- Questioning under pressure including using line-ups or drills
- Simulating or requiring activity of a sexual nature, or threatening to do so
- Expecting illegal activity or threatening to require illegal activity
- Psychological games used to intimidate pnm’s, isolating pledges and/or abandoning or falsely imprisoning pledges
Hazing is hazing regardless of consent. Agreeing to any of the aforementioned activities or any other unauthorized activity does not make it acceptable.
Organizations may not employ practices that are contrary to governing body policy. Activities banned by governing bodies are also considered banned by Ramapo College of New Jersey. Where organization and college policies differ, the College policies will prevail.
Please note: This list by no means covers all activities and actions that can be considered hazing. Should you have questions or desire clarification on any of these items, please contact the Center for Student Involvement, Student Center Room 200, or call 201-684-7593.
The following shall serve as a Bill of Rights for all students who shall elect to join a fraternity or a sorority at Ramapo College of New Jersey. These shall be construed as the minimum rights to be afforded to each and every initiate. It is assumed that a Bill of Rights is a basic document in which free men and women are guaranteed freedom from any type of irresponsible action on the part of individuals or organizations. It is also assumed that such a document will serve to reassure the initiates and to enhance rather than hinder the initiating organizations.
This Pledge’s Bill of Rights has been developed by the New Jersey State Attorney General pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:3-24 et seq.
Pledge: For the purpose of the Pledge’s Bill of Rights a pledge is defined as any student of the college/university attempting to become a member of a fraternity or sorority or other similar campus organization.
Definition of Hazing
For the purpose of this Pledge’s Bill of Rights “hazing” shall mean
- As indicated, pursuant to New Jersey Statute:
A. A person is guilty of hazing, a disorderly persons offense, if, in connection with initiation of applicants to or members of a student or fraternal organization, he knowingly or recklessly organizes, promotes, facilitates or engages in any conduct, other than competitive events, which place another person in danger of bodily injury.
B. A person is guilty of aggravated hazing; a crime of fourth degree, if he commits an act prohibited in subsection A. Which results in serious bodily injury to another person.
2C:40-4. Notwithstanding any other provision of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to a prosecution under this act.
2C:40-5. Conduct constituting an offense under this Act may, at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney, be prosecuted under any other applicable provision of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; and
- Other behaviors or activities in addition to those prohibited under N.J.S.A. 2C:40 et seq.
Defined as hazing by a college or university with respect to its students.
Prohibition on Hazing
- A pledge shall have the right to be free of all activities which may constitute hazing while attempting to become a member of a fraternity or sorority, or other campus organization. Campus organizations and their members are prohibited from engaging in or encouraging others to engage in activities that are defined and hazing.
- A broad range of behaviors that may place another person in danger of bodily or behavior that demonstrates indifference or disregard for another person’s dignity or well-being may be classified as hazing under the above definition. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
- Forced or required ingestion of alcohol, drugs, food or any undesirable substance.
- Participation in sexual rituals or assaults.
- Mentally abusive or demeaning behavior.
- Acts that could result in physical, mental or emotional deprivation or harm.
- Physical abuse, e.g., whipping, paddling, beating, tattooing, branding, and exposure to the elements.
The pledge initiation process should be conducted in a manner that respects the dignity or pledges and protects their mental and physical well being. Examples of acceptable behavior include pledge activities that are not classified as hazing, but promote scholarship, promote service, develop leadership and/or social skills, assist career goals, involve students with alumni, improve relations with others, build awareness of fraternity or sorority history, instill a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood, foster solidarity or otherwise promote the institutional mission of the host college.
Written Notification of Rights
Institutions shall require all fraternities, sororities and other similar campus organizations to provide all pledges with a written Bill of Rights that includes the provisions set forth herein. The written Bill of Rights shall be signed by the student pledge and filed in the appropriate office of the institution.
Other Policies Governing the Rush or Pledge Process
- Delineation of additional responsibilities of fraternities, sororities and other similar campus organizations in regard to rush or pledge activities shall rest with individual institutions. As such, institutions may develop policies and regulations governing other aspects of the rush or pledge process, which may include pledge and membership education, student eligibility to pledge, limitations on the pledge period and membership selection.
- Institutions may develop policies and procedures for disciplining violators of its pledge process. Institutional action on a hazing violation is independent of any action that a prosecutor may pursue for violations under Title 2C.