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The Moral Justification of Hazing

The Moral Justification of Hazing


Hazing as an act that subjects the newcomers or recruited to an abusive or humbling tricks and ridicule. The activities associated with hazing have been secretive and exists in campus activities when dealing with fraternities and pledges (Delaney, 2008).  Though joining a group may be considered some human basic need, forming a sense of belonging and identity plays a major role in development of the human being.

Looking at the children in high school going age, it is evident that they are merely learning and may be finding it hard to distinguish between the necessary and inappropriate behavior. This will call upon the demand for appropriate and healthy supervision from the adults that will be able to offer guidance and be role models that will be able to mould the children to be citizens that are acceptable to the society (Delaney, 2008). Generally whenever groups of employs or peers in any institutional set up humiliate employ dangerous mechanism in initiating the new members into the system leads to the hazing act. Research generally has proved that over 70% of the students in the high school category belong at least to one group and over 75% experience something positive as a result of them joining the group.

The study generally looked at the survey of the post secondary students who are currently in campus and the interviews was carried  with the staff and students from sample of the campus. The survey aimed at examining the hazing activity in among the student and possibly understands the moral basis for the existence of the hazing activities among the members of the groups or organizations.

The goals of the study included the investigation of nature and the extend of hazing acts among the students and offer the possible mechanisms of preventing and responding to hazing among the college students.

Background and Justification research

This kind of study can be considered unusual in nature due to its magnitude and scope. It is aimed at examining the hazing activities among the student’s organizations in the context of the diversity of the kinds of colleges and universities that exist (Egyesult, 1990). The outputs from the research will be essential in identification the most vulnerable students and the groups that are at the risk of the hazing activity.

The output of the research will also enable the marking out of the famous hazing behaviors, the research will also allow for the examination of the student perception of hazing, the possible mechanisms of preventing and curbing the hazing acts. The research will also attempt to give an insight into the hazing knowledge in high school and this will act as the basis for further research on the same subject in the future and measurement of the changes over time in the hazing acts. The research aims at increasing the depth of the understanding and knowledge about hazing.

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Literature Review

Some of the reported outcomes of hazing are either psychological and or physical. The behaviors can be found to be as deadly as some cases of deaths have been reported (Huggins, 2002). In an educational set up, the risks that the students of the people are exposed to such risks as negative publicity, attrition of students, and abusive campus environment among other cases (Nicoletti, 2009).

Most stereotypes hold the perceptions that hazing is a challenge in Greek letter organizations and athlete’s sports fraternity (Wood, 1994). Though it has always been dismissed as harmless behavior and pranks, the repercussions of hazing are enormous (Nuwer, 2000). . those dismissed the effects of hazing may be considered to be short sighted  and they may play a crucial role in jeopardizing the health and safety of the students  and act as a major hindrance to the overall quality of the learning atmosphere both in schools and after the secondary studies (Holmes, 1999).

Most administrators and professional staff who are well informed of the dangers that exist and inherent in hazing usually testify of the discouragement and the mystified resulting when the approaches and the values that encourage the hazing and where the culture normalizes the hazing as normal part of life in the organization and college life (Phillips, 2005).

Despite the moral implications that has been documented over decades, hazing has been overlooked for long and little emphasize is put on its understanding and awareness creation (Littlejohn, 1993). There exist data on the level of hazing in institutions, such data has been generated by NCAA study of the college athletes (Limpkins, 2006), the case of black Greek letter hazing in such fraternities (Egyesult, 1990), various dissertations and thesis on hazing in various contexts (Holmes, 1999), there has been research on hazing in campuses and colleges among the individuals and the groups as documented (Nuwer, 1990, 2001).

There exists efforts in attempting to reduce or stop the hazing activities, with such initiatives by organization receiving enormous email queries from many students who may be involved or still practice the hazing activities as members of a given team, especially theatre groups involving in acting, the marching bands, church groups, freshmen camps, military groups and even orientation groups in certain institutions (Nuwer, 2004).

Further complaints have been filed by individuals in residence living units and groups, social and academic clubs, and sports club groups (Jones, 2004).

Research Methodology

The data collection process entailed two stages, the survey and campus visits. The survey generally involved students in postsecondary institutions field a web based survey in the various target institutions. The survey was done twice and the institutions were selected to ensure a representative sample that would be able to qualitatively and quantitatively provide the desired outcome.

The institutions were classified into public, private, and according to setting and size.

The survey featured more than 10 items that were considered to be related to hazing. Such items included questions inquired on the student’s experiences with hazing behavior, awareness of the hazing policies in the institution, the general institutional perceptions of hazing, consequences of hazing to the individual and the group, the experience of the individuals with hazing before joining college.

The general approach in the survey was the that the researchers were provided with the email of the students which entailed over 15% of all the students in the institution  who are pursuing full time undergraduate studies. The invitation to partake in the survey was send to the students via email with the web address and the pin to enable the entry into the survey. Not all students finished the survey. The response rate was 55% with 78% of the surveyed students completing the survey process.

The campus visits involved the interviews of the staff and students and face to face conversation was carried out. The interviews were between 7 to 15 minutes. The educational documents in the participating institutions were also gathered. The training and policy documents were requested from the visited institutions.


100 undergraduate students aged between 18 and 25 years participated in the survey. There were 66% female and 34% male in the survey process. Looking at the ethnic distribution, the whites represented the majority of the respondents with over 70% being represented. The other ethnic groups represent the Africans (8%), Asians (7%), multi- racial (5%) and others (10%).

Of the respondents, they constituted 28%, 25%, 20%, 10% and 7% representing the first year, second years, third years, fourth years and the rest respectively.

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For this exercise, hazing was defined as any activity that someone is expected to partake when joining or becoming part of a group that degrades, abuses, humiliates or even endangers them despite the person’s willingness to participate.

From the responses received the following are some of the findings; most of the students in college involved in teams, organizations and clubs reported experiencing hazing with 60% of the respondents agreeing to that. The hazing occurs across the various ranges of student groups. From the interviews carried out, it was apparent that most of the students associated hazing with Greek letter organizations though the survey also revealed that students who are members of different groups in campus and teams also experienced hazing acts in their responses. Thus can be said that hazing is happening and it is beyond the Greek letter and the varsity athletics.

Though the majority of the students associated with social fraternities, varsity athletics and sororities are the most likely to experience hazing compared to other possible avenues for hazing. The members of the groups such as the recreational; groups, the interest groups, the honor societies, religious clubs, student government, cultural based organizations, the academic clubs registered a lower rate of the hazing behavior. Such acts as humiliation, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption and sex were found to be very common among the student organizations and groups.  The students are reported to be partaking in highly risky and unacceptable and possibly illegal activities in order to become a member of a student group or team.

The most commonly reported hazing behaviors include: singing or chanting with other members in an event that may not be related to the event of the practice, participation in a drinking game where the members of the organization or team partake, drinking large amounts of alcohol to the point that one gets sick or passes out and cannot keep track of what happened, be exposed to screaming, yelling and use of the cursing words by other members of the group, associate oneself with specific group of people and avoid other people completely, depriving one of sleep is also common among the members of any given group that practices hazing, attending the initiation of the members of the group as they are humiliated.

Cases of being awakened during the night by other members of the group has also been noted and for non-alcoholic cases, the members are reported to be drinking too much of non-alcoholic beverages. Different groups rated the behavior differently with male, female, organizational teams giving different activities they participate in during the hazing process.


There are many controversies surrounding hazing. Few people clearly understand social abuse which takes place in the name of hazing. Poor understanding has resulted from the fact that this practice is carried out with much secrecy by the fact that it’s illegal. Another hindrance to proper research as far as hazing is concerned is the fact that this practice has been greatly accepted in our community.

Acceptance of the practice makes people blind to the inhumane activities or practices that happen in the name of orientation to a team or a group. For these reason researchers have failed to agree on the damages that result from such a practice.

The dynamics of hazing are characterized by the silence and secrecy surrounding the hazing behavior. From research it was evident that there exist numerous public issues in relation to hazing. This includes the posting of the photos of the activities on the public website, the location of hazing activities the knowledge of the hazing initiatives among the advisors, the alumni, family, friends, coaches and friends.

Most of the hazing is reported to occur in public places and majority reported that hazing occurred during the day. It is also reported that the advisors, friends, coaches and family members may be aware of the hazing behavior in some instances.

During the survey, several students tried to justify the hazing activities based on the arguments that hazing promoted the group unity and bonding among the members of the team of organization. Hazing has further been rationalized to indicate the sense of achievement of the group or the organization though the argument was disputed by over 75% of the respondents who were surveyed.

There are minimal chances of students reporting hazing in campus to the relevant authority despite existence of tough rules and regulation that prohibit such acts and behaviors. Some of the reasons given for unwillingness to report the hazing activities include the unwillingness of the member to get the team and group members into trouble with the school authority, fear of the possible repercussions to the individual incase the team members get to know, the fear of hurting the team if they find out that they were reported.

 Some of the members interviewed gave varying reasons as to why they did not report the hazing activities. Some of the sampled results include the minimalism of hazing where the individual does not consider the experience extreme, the believe that being hazed is a choice where the members knew it would happen or occur at a given point and still subscribe to the group or team, other argued that hazing is a rational activity that resulted in appositive experience by making one a better self or member of the group, many considered hazing a normal tradition and they did not mind going through the same, others were not aware that it was hazing until sometime later  that they realized and possibly they felt no harm in the exercise.

The stress and disgusting things that people go through in the name of orientation is not morally acceptable. Lives have been lost, self image of individuals has been greatly destroyed. Maybe if the activity was restricted to bonding there would be no issues but by the fact that actions are humiliating and destructive it does not reflect any moral uprightness. Young people are supposed to be engaged in productive healthy activities and not what hazing stands for (Wood, 1994).


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The results of the survey reveal that hazing is well embedded into the student life and campus culture in most of the institutions of learning. Though it has previously been dismissed as nothing other than silly pranks and non detrimental antics, the results of the research has shown that the hazing activities are highly risk and can result into detrimental effects where death can occur, it is therefore paramount that hazing preventions efforts be designed that should be inclusive and broad of all the members of the student fraternity in campus and those responsible for the campus organizations and athletic teams.

Recent cases of events related to hazing have resulted to students deaths in colleges; such activities as drinking large quantity of non-alcoholic beverages and the passing out through over drinking of alcohols have resulted to deaths.

Creation of the necessary awareness of hazing should be facilitated in all institutions and all the leaders such as the coaches, the leaders of the teams and student advisors have to be trained in handling incidences of hazing. The relevant policies have to be put in place to handle the cases of hazing that are witnessed in public and the perpetrators and the victims who are not willing to report the acts of hazing in the institution have to be punished appropriately to ensure that the system is able to get rid of these heinous acts plus the facilitators.

The groups targeted for preventing hazing have to be expanded to include all the stakeholders in the system.  The proposed structure for the prevention and intervention of hazing must be based on the output of research based and systematic analysis to ensure the effectiveness of the team. There is need to involve all the students in the management of the hazing related activities and the orientation of the new students to campus should be able to clearly define to students what hazing is and also give an assurance of their safety in case they will report the hazing incidence that they may encounter or experience.

The hazing prevention methods should go beyond the one time presentation and the distribution of the anti-hazing policies but it will be important to develop an understanding of the dynamics in power and also the politics in play to be able identify hazing in whatever context. It would be important to also conceptualize the role of coercion and group thinking in hazing. There is also need for the development of the critical thinking ability essential in making ethically acceptable ruling when faced with moral dilemmas. There is need for the development of the effective leadership that will be able to stand the challenges that resistant members of the team or group are likely to impose.


Hazing can be looked at as a complex issue and we realize the problem is able to interfere with the welfare of the students. Both the health and the security or safety of students and this is likely to hinder or obstruct the improvement of the positive campus environment. The truth is at the moment there can be no definite answer to the hazing problem neither is there elimination mechanisms that can enable the system eliminate the hazing menace.

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