Policy Statement on Hazing

Introduction   

ACU will not tolerate hazing as defined by Texas law.  Moreover, ACU strongly discourages any action which degrades, intimidates, humiliates, or endangers any individual.  The University reserves the right, for its administrative disciplinary purposes, to define conduct as “hazing” whether or not it would constitute hazing under the Texas law.  All acts of hazing and any act which transgresses ACU’s Student Handbook will receive the full range of discipline set forth by the current Student Handbook.  Ignorance of Christian principles, cultural meanings, and Texas law will not constitute immunity from appropriate University discipline, including dismissal from the University.

As hazing activities have become public across the United States, many universities and national fraternities are working hard to eliminate any activity that could be considered hazing. ACU has created policies and procedures that are intended to protect and preserve students, club traditions, and the ACU community.

Reporting Hazing Violations   

Because the charge to build Christian community and protect each other from inappropriate treatment is greater than the charge to protect a person who is mistreating others, all members are responsible to report suspected hazing to one or all of the following:  1) a social club/student organization adviser, 2) the Director of Student Organizations and Activities, 3) the Dean of Student Life, and/or 4) an anonymous reporting form on the hazing website. (You are not required to provide your name or contact information. If you wish to remain anonymous, begin filling in the form in the “Date of Incident” space provided.)

Failing to Report: Under Texas Law, the offense of failing to report is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in county jail for not more than 180 days, or both such fine and confinement.  If you are a student at Abilene Christian University and fail to report a hazing violation, you may be subject to disciplinary action.

Administrative Immunity: Any person reporting a specific hazing incident involving a student in an educational institution to the Dean of Students or other appropriate official of the institution is immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of the report.  Immunity extends to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report.  A person reporting in bad faith or with malice is not protected.  ACU provides such immunity under the Non-Disciplinary Process/Administrative Agreements Policy.

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Texas Hazing Law Defined   

Below is an abbreviated summary of the Texas Education Code, Section 51.936 and Subchapter F, Chapter 37, Sections 37.151-158.  The following Hazing Law was passed by the Texas State Legislature relating to offenses related to hazing at or in connection with an educational institution.  To view the law in its entirety, please visit: www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us

Definition of Terms (Sec 4.51)
• “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 any organization.
• “Pledging” means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization.
• “Organization” means a fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, or service, social, or a similar group, whose members are primarily students at an educational institution.
• “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 that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are students at an educational institution.      

The term includes but is not limited to:
  a) 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) any type of physical activity, such as:
           • sleep deprivation,
           • exposure to the elements,
           • confinement in a small space,
           • calisthenics or
           • other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk or harm, or            • that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
  c) any activity involving consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug or other substance which subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or which adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
  d) any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects the student to:
            • extreme mental stress,
            • shame, or humiliation, or
            • that adversely affects the student from entering or remaining registered in an  educational institution, or
            • that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave the organization or the institution rather than submit to acts described in this subsection;
  e) any activity that induces, causes or requires the student to perform a duty or task which involves a violation of the Education Code. Sec. 4.52.

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Persons Subject to Prosecution/Administrative Action (Sec. 4. 52)

A person commits an offense if the person:
       • engages in hazing;
       • solicits, encourages, directs, aids or attempts to aid another in engaging in hazing;
       • intentionally, knowingly or recklessly permits hazing to occur; or
       • has firsthand knowledge of the planning of a specific hazing incident involving a student in an educational institution or firsthand knowledge that a specific hazing incident has occurred, and knowingly fails to report said knowledge in writing to the Dean of Students or other appropriate officials of the institution.
    1. The offense of failing to report is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in county jail for not more than 180 days, or both such fine and confinement.
    2. Any other offense under this section which does not cause serious bodily injury to another is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, confinement in county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than 180 days, or both such fine and confinement.
    3. Any other offense under this section which causes serious bodily injury to another is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000, confinement in county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year, or both such fine and confinement.
   4. Any other offense under this section which causes the death of another is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $10,000, confinement in county jail for not less than one year nor more than two years, or both such fine and confinement.
   5. Except when 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 community service probationers by Subdivision (1), Subsection (e), and Subsections (c), (d), (g), (h) of Section 10A. Article 42.12, 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.

Refer to the Categories of Student Conduct Violations below to review the university’s disciplinary sanctions for hazing violations.

Organizations Subject to Prosecution/Administrative Action (Sec. 5.53)

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.

An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $10,000, or if a court finds that the offense caused personal injury, property damage, or other loss.  The court may sentence the organization to pay a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than double the amount loss or expenses incurred because of such injury, damage, or loss.

Refer to the Categories of Student Conduct Violations below to review the university’s disciplinary sanctions for hazing violations.

Consent Not a Defense (Sec. 4.54)

It is not a defense to prosecution for the offense under this subchapter that the person against whom the hazing was directed consented to or acquiesced in the hazing activity.

Immunity From Prosecution Available (Sec. 4.55)

In the prosecution of an offense under this subchapter, the court may grant immunity from prosecution for the offense to each person who is subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution and does testify for the prosecution.  Any person reporting a specific hazing incident involving a student in an educational institution to the Dean of Students or other appropriate official of the institution is immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of the report.  Immunity extends to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report.  A person reporting in bad faith or with malice is not protected by this section. ACU provides such immunity under the Non-Disciplinary Process/Administrative Agreements Policy.

Offenses in Addition to Other Penal Provisions (Sec. 4.56)

This subchapter does not affect or repeal any penal law of this state.  Nothing in this subchapter shall limit or affect the right of an educational institution to enforce its own penalties against hazing.

Reporting by Medical Authorities (Sec. 4.57)

Treatment of a student who may have been subjected to hazing activities may be reported to police or other law enforcement officials.  The doctor or medical practitioner so reporting shall be immune from civil suit or other liability that might otherwise be imposed or incurred as a result of the report, unless the report is made in bad faith or with malice.

Publication of Subchapter (Sec. 4.58)

1. Each postsecondary educational institution shall cause to be published or distributed to each student during the first three weeks of each semester a summary of the provisions of this subchapter.
2. The institution shall publish or distribute in the same manner a list of organizations that have been disciplined for hazing or convicted for hazing on or off the campus of the institution during the previous three years.
3. If the institution publishes a general catalog, student handbook, or similar publication, it shall publish a summary of the provisions of this subchapter in each edition of that catalog, handbook, or similar publication.

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Categories of Student Conduct Violations (Related to Hazing)   

(ADAPTED FROM THE 2010-2011 ACU STUDENT HANDBOOK)

Consequences for acts of hazing include, but are not limited to, suspension of club activities or suspension of club from campus.  Listed below are levels of student conduct violations along with possible sanctions for each level.

Category One:  These actions against the Christian standards of conduct set forth in the Student Handbook may result in disciplinary warnings with or without additional conditions or alternative requirements, such as counseling, community service, or mentoring.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any ridicule and discipline of new members for not remembering or learning club traditions or members’ names.
  • Any type of verbal abuse or intimidation of a new member.
  • Any type of personal servitude or requirement to purchase goods for members.
  • Any activity which degrades, humiliates, or intimidates a new member.

Category Two:  These actions are may result in a minimum disciplinary response of conduct probation with additional conditions or alternative requirements, including suspension from pledging or from active club/organization membership for a specified period.  An entire club/organization may be placed on probation and have its current pledge period terminated.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any blindfolding of prospective members creating an environment which endangers prospective members through restricting their senses.
  • Any type of humiliation based on the physical or personal characteristics or personal convictions of prospective members.
  • Any activity requiring prospective members to place themselves in any foreign substance or shaving or otherwise marking their bodies.
  • Any excessive sleep deprivation of prospective members.
  • Any activity that requires prospective members to partially or fully disrobe.
  • Any activity that occurs without the presence of an approved advisor.

Category Three:  These actions may result in an individual’s suspension or dismissal from the University for one or more semesters, including indefinitely, and the suspension of an entire club/organization for one or more years.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any activity which creates significant emotional trauma for a new member.
  • Any physical abuse such as paddling, striking, whipping, shoving, electric shock, branding, or burning of prospective members.
  • Any physical abuse that forces prospective members to eat or drink anything or place any foreign object in any orifice of the body.
  • Any requirement of prospective members to endure environments that create extreme physical or emotional discomfort or endanger physical safety.
  • Any “dogging”, abandoning, binding, or confining of prospective members.
  • Any failure to comply with the directives of a club advisor or any university official.

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Organizations Disciplined for Hazing Violations   

As of May 2010, no organizations have been disciplined for hazing in the past three years.

Contact Information   

Any questions or clarifications may be directed to the Student Organizations and Activities Office.

Room 121 McKinzie Hall
ACU Box 29004
325-674-2069 (office)
325-674-6475 (fax)
studentorgs@acu.edu
www.acu.edu/studentorganizations

For additional information regarding hazing, please visit www.stophazing.org.

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