Policy Statement on Hazing
- Reporting Hazing Violations
- Texas Hazing Law Defined
- Categories of Student Conduct Violations (Related to Hazing)
- Organizations Disciplined for Hazing Violations
- Contact Information
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/sponsor, 2) the Director of Student Organizations and Activities, 3) the Dean of Students, and/or 4) this 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 “Nature of this report” space provided.) This form can also be found on the Reporting Violations page of the Dean of Students site.
Failing to Report: Under Texas Law, the offense of failing to report is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000, 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 voluntarily 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 if the person: 1) reports the incident before being contacted by authorities, and 2) is considered by the educational institution as acting “in good faith” by reporting the incident. Immunity extends to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report. A person reporting in bad faith or with malice, and/or a person reporting their own act of hazing is not protected by this section. ACU provides such immunity under the Non-Disciplinary Process/Administrative Agreements Policy.
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 student government, a band or musical group or an academic, athletic, cheerleading, or dance team, including any group or team that participates in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition, or a 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 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:
- electronic shocking,
- placing of a harmful substance on the body,
- or similar activity;
b) further involves:
- sleep deprivation,
- exposure to the elements,
- confinement in a small space,
- or other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm, or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
c) further involves consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug or other substance, other than as described by paragraph (e), 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 induces, causes or requires the student to perform a duty or task which involves a violation of the Penal Code; or
e) involves coercing, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, the student to consume:
- a drug; or
- an alcoholic beverage or liquor in an amount that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the student is intoxicated, as defined by Section 49.01, Penal Code.
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.
- The offense of failing to report is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000, confinement in county jail for not more than 180 days, or both such fine and confinement.
- 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 $2,000, confinement in county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than 180 days, or both such fine and confinement.
- Any other offense under this section which causes serious bodily injury to another is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $4,000, confinement in county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year, or both such fine and confinement.
- Any other offense under this section which causes the death of another is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $4,000 nor more than $10,000, confinement in county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than two years, or both such fine and confinement.
- 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 a person placed on community supervision under Chapter 42A, 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 lost 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 if the person: 1) reports the incident before being contacted by authorities, and 2) is considered by the educational institution as acting “in good faith” by reporting the incident. Immunity extends to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report. A person reporting in bad faith or with malice, and/or a person reporting their own act of hazing 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. Not later than the 14th day before the first class day of each or spring semester, each postsecondary educational institution shall cause to be published or distributed to each student a summary of the provisions of this subchapter.
2. The institution shall publish or distribute in the same manner a copy of, or an electronic link to a copy of, the report required under (2a).
2a. Each postsecondary educational institution shall develop and post in a prominent location on the institution’s Internet website a report on hazing committed on or off campus by an organization registered with or recognized by the institution. The report:
i. must include information regarding each disciplinary action taken by the institution against an organization for hazing, and each conviction of hazing under Section 37.153 by an organization, during the three years preceding the date on which the report is issued or updated, including:
1. the name of the organization disciplined or convicted;
2. the date on which the incident occurred or the citation was issued, if applicable;
3. the date on which the institution’s investigation into the incident, if any, was initiated;
4. a general description of:
a. the incident;
b. the violations of the institution’s code of conduct or the criminal charges, as applicable;
c. the findings of the institution or court; and
d. any sanctions imposed by the institution, or any fines imposed by the court, on the organization; and
5. the date on which the institution’s disciplinary process was resolved or on which the conviction became final;
ii. must be updated to include information regarding each disciplinary process or conviction not later than the 30th day after the date on which the disciplinary process is resolved or the conviction becomes final, as applicable; and
iii. may not include personally identifiable student information and must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g).
2b. Each postsecondary educational institution shall provide to each student who attends the institution’s student orientation a notice regarding the nature and availability of the report required under (2a), including the report’s Internet website address.
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.
Consequences for acts of hazing include, but are not limited to, suspension of organization activities or suspension of organization 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 organization 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 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.
Name of the Organization discplined – Sub T-16 men’s social club
Date on which the incident occurred – April 26, 2019
Date on which the institution’s investigation was initiated – April 27, 2019
General description of the incident – At a club gathering, a club member participated in a club tradition resulting in physical harm.
Description of Sanctions Imposed – The university determined that the incident violated university policy on hazing and notified the club on September 12, 2019 that it was being placed on indefinite suspension.
Date on which the disciplinary process was resolved – September 12, 2019
Update: This organization met all university requirements for reinstatement as of March 2, 2020.
Any questions or clarifications may be directed to the Student Organizations and Activities Office.
McGlothlin Campus Center, Rm 43
ACU Box 27867
For additional information regarding hazing, please visit www.stophazing.org.