Middlebury College Hazing Policy

September, 2015

Middlebury’s Community Standards include promoting healthy, safe, and balanced lifestyles. Student organizations and athletic teams can play a vital role in this process, and can provide transformative opportunities for friendship, leadership, and personal growth and discovery. Hazing of any kind is antithetical to these goals; therefore, the College prohibits hazing activities, whether by an individual or an organization.

a. Definition
For purposes of this policy, hazing is defined as any act committed by a person, whether individually or in concert with others, against a student in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, participating in, or maintaining membership in any organization or team affiliated with Middlebury College; and which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of the student. Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the above acts.  The College will use a “reasonable person” standard when evaluating such conduct and its potential effects.

b. Consent
Because of the socially coercive nature of hazing, implied or expressed consent to hazing is not a defense under applicable State law or this policy.

c. Retaliation
Retaliating directly or indirectly against a person who has in good faith filed, supported, or participated in an investigation of a complaint of hazing as defined above is prohibited. Retaliation includes but is not limited to ostracizing the person, pressuring the person to drop or not support the complaint or provide false or misleading information, or  otherwise engaging in conduct that may reasonably be perceived to affect adversely that person's educational, living, or work environment. Depending on the circumstances, retaliation may also be unlawful, whether or not the complaint is ultimately found to have merit.

d. Examples
College policies include the prohibition of many activities that have traditionally been associated with hazing, such as illegal alcohol use and abuse, vandalism, theft, verbal or physical abuse or threat of harm, sexual harassment, and other forms of harassment. In addition to those activities and conduct expressly prohibited elsewhere in this Handbook, examples of prohibited individual/group activities that may constitute hazing when otherwise falling within the definition above include but are not limited to the following:

  • Encouraging the use of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Shaving, tattooing, piercing or branding
  • Engaging in or simulating sexual acts
  • Threatening or causing physical restraint
  • Nudity
  • Throwing substances or objects at individuals
  • Assigning unreasonable chores or acts of servitude
  • Forcing or coercing consumption or use of any substance
  • Causing excessive exercise, sleep deprivation or excessive fatigue
  • Interfering with adequate time for study
  • Requiring the wearing of apparel or acting in a way that is conspicuous and not within community norms
  • Blindfolding

Passive participation in hazing may include:

  • Witnessing hazing taking place as a group member, affiliate or guest
  • Participating in or being present in person or via technology in discussions where hazing is planned

As these examples illustrate, hazing activities do not need to involve alcohol to be in violation of this policy.

e. Accountability
Hazing activity occurring on or off the Middlebury College campus may lead to disciplinary proceedings against individuals. Hazing may also lead to the probation, suspension, or termination of a student organization or athletic team. Culpability for any violations of this policy may be attributed to the active and/or passive participants, the student group and/or its members, and elected or appointed officers.

The student leaders of all registered student organizations and athletics programs are required to acknowledge annually that they will comply with the terms of the Middlebury College Hazing Policy.

f. Policy Violation Review Process

1. Authority
The dean of the College or an appropriate designee monitors the implementation of this policy. Any questions concerning the interpretation or application of this policy should be referred to the dean of the College for resolution.

2. Reporting
Activities believed to be hazing should be reported to a Commons dean, director of Athletics, or the dean of the College.

3. Process
When an allegation of hazing is made, the dean of the College will review the investigation, as conducted by the Department of Public Safety and/or other designated investigatory agent. The dean of the College may suspend the activities of a student organization, athletic team, or individual members thereof, pending the outcome of the investigation.

a. Student Organizations and Athletics Teams
Student organizations or athletic teams that have allegedly violated the College’s policy will have an opportunity to provide a responsive statement to the dean of the College. A summary of allegations will be provided by the dean of the College to the student leaders of organizations or teams that have allegedly violated the College’s policy, and the organization or team will have an opportunity to provide a responsive statement.

In cases where there is sufficient evidence that College policy has been violated, the dean of the College will levy sanctions against the student organization or team up to and including, but not limited to, permanent or temporary suspension of recognition and activities, denial of use of College facilities, or other similar sanctions.

b. Individuals
The dean of the College may also refer hazing allegations concerning individual students to the judicial affairs officer for review and adjudication.

4. Additional Policy Violations
Regardless of the outcome of a review for violations of the hazing policy, incidents may be reviewed by the judicial affairs officer for other violations of College policy.

g. Referral to Law Enforcement
The College will report allegations of hazing to law enforcement authorities when, in the judgment of the dean of the College, the nature of the allegations suggests that the hazing activity, if it occurred or is occurring, presents a risk of serious harm to students or other persons, or involves a potentially serious violation of law.