Bryn Mawr College is committed to providing a welcoming, inclusive and respectful environment for all community members. We value the community and relationships that traditions help to build among current students and the connections to past and future generations they create. Because we value relationships that are founded in respect, it is incumbent upon each generation of students to evaluate not only traditions but all student-run activities, including those designed to welcome new members to clubs, teams, and dorms, to eliminate any elements that may be construed as hazing.
The College does not tolerate hazing. Any student, student group, student organization, team, and/or other person associated with a student organization found responsible for Hazing, Aggravated Hazing, or Organizational Hazing under this Policy, whether occurring on or off campus, may face disciplinary action from the College under the College policies and the Honor Code, and may also face criminal charges under Pennsylvania State Law. The infliction of mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule on a community member for the purposes of initiation or entry into any organization, club or group is inconsistent with Bryn Mawr’s values and will not be tolerated. It shall not be a defense that the consent of the student was sought or obtained, nor that the conduct was sanctioned or approved by an organization. The College encourages all members of the College community who believe that they have witnessed, experienced, or are aware of conduct that constitutes Hazing, Aggravated Hazing, or Organizational Hazing in violation of this Policy to report the violation to the Dean of the Undergraduate College or the Director of Campus Safety.
Allegations of hazing will be investigated and may lead to a Dean’s Panel and/or criminal charges. Procedures for the conduct of a Dean’s Panel are found elsewhere in this Student Handbook. In addition to the educative measures and warnings important to all responses to misconduct or insensitivity, sanctions for individuals who violate this policy may include restorative action such as community service or education assignments, separation from the College, fines, and/or referral to law enforcement. Furthermore, individual student organizations such as clubs or athletic teams may be sanctioned and prohibited from hosting events or participating in activities as a group. Pennsylvania State Law includes a “safe harbor” provision that provides protection from criminal prosecution to individuals who make an immediate report of hazing to obtain medical attention for the victim and the College offers that same protection in its disciplinary actions/proceedings.
The College recognizes that there are activities which can help to build community and that there are other activities which may cause harm. What may seem like harmless fun to some may be deeply humiliating to others and affect them in other negative ways. Students should be aware of their rights, responsibilities, and resources available to them so that they can make informed decisions. We expect all students to educate themselves about this policy and its rationale and understand what constitutes hazing under the Bryn Mawr College hazing policy, other College policies and Pennsylvania State Law. The College will maintain a five-year report of violations of this Policy or of Federal or State laws related to hazing that are reported to the College. The College will update the report biennially on January 1 and August 1, and will post the updated report on the College’s Campus Safety webpage.
Pennsylvania State Law (18 Pa.C.S. § 2801 et seq.)
§ 2802. Hazing.
(a) Offense defined. — A person commits the offense of hazing if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, for the purpose of initiating, admitting or affiliating a minor or student into or with an organization, or for the purpose of continuing or enhancing a minor or student's membership or status in an organization, causes, coerces or forces a minor or student to do any of the following:
(1) Violate Federal or State criminal law.
(2) Consume any food, liquid, alcoholic liquid, drug or other substance which subjects the minor or student to a risk of emotional or physical harm.
(3) Endure brutality of a physical nature, including whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics or exposure to the elements.
(4) Endure brutality of a mental nature, including activity adversely affecting the mental health or dignity of the individual, sleep deprivation, exclusion from social contact or conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment.
(5) Endure brutality of a sexual nature.
(6) Endure any other activity that creates a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to the minor or student.
(b) Grading. —
(1) Except as provided under paragraph (2), hazing is a summary offense.
(2) Hazing shall be a misdemeanor of the third degree if it results in or creates a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to the minor or student.
(c) Limitation. — Hazing shall not include reasonable and customary athletic, law enforcement or military training, contests, competitions or events.
§ 2803. Aggravated hazing.
(a) Offense defined. — A person commits the offense of aggravated hazing if the person commits a violation of section 2802 (relating to hazing) that results in serious bodily injury or death to the minor or student and:
(1) the person acts with reckless indifference to the health and safety of the minor or student; or
(2) the person causes, coerces or forces the consumption of an alcoholic liquid or drug by the minor or student.
(b) Grading. — Aggravated hazing shall be a felony of the third degree.
§ 2804. Organizational hazing.
(a) Offense defined. — An organization that intentionally, knowingly or recklessly promotes or facilitates a violation of section 2802 (relating to hazing) or 2803 (relating to aggravated hazing) commits the offense of organizational hazing and shall be subject to any of the following penalties:
(1) A fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation of section 2802.
(2) A fine of not more than $15,000 for each violation of section 2803.
(b) Penalties. — In addition to any other sentence imposed, if an organization commits the offense of organizational hazing, the organization shall be subject to such other relief as the court deems equitable.
§ 2806. Defenses prohibited.
It shall not be a defense to any offense under this chapter that any of the following apply:
(1) The consent of the minor or student was sought or obtained.
(2) The conduct was sanctioned or approved by the institution, secondary school or organization.
§ 2810. Safe harbor.
(a) Immunity for the individual seeking medical attention for another. — An individual shall not be prosecuted for an offense under this chapter if the individual can establish all of the following:
(1) A law enforcement officer first became aware of the individual's violation of this chapter because the individual placed a 911 call or contacted campus security, police or emergency services, based on a reasonable belief that another individual was in need of immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
(2) The individual reasonably believed the individual was the first individual to make a 911 call or contact campus security, police or emergency services and report that an individual needed immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
(3) The individual provided the individual's own name to the 911 operator or equivalent campus security officer, police or emergency services personnel.
(4) The individual remained with the individual needing medical assistance until a campus security officer, police or emergency services personnel arrived and the need for the individual's presence had ended.
(b) Derivative immunity for the individual needing medical attention. — An individual needing medical attention shall be immune under this section from prosecution for an offense under this chapter or section 6308(a) (relating to purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages) only if another individual against whom probable cause exists to charge an offense under this chapter reported the incident and remained with the individual needing medical attention and the other individual qualifies for a safe harbor under this section.
(c) Limitations. — The safe harbors described under this section shall be limited as follows:
(1) This section may not bar prosecuting a person for an offense under this chapter if a law enforcement officer learns of the offense prior to and independent of the action of seeking or obtaining emergency assistance as described in subsection (a).
(2) This section shall not interfere with or prevent the investigation, arrest, charging or prosecution of an individual for a crime other than an offense under this chapter or section 6308(a).
(3) This section shall not bar the admissibility of evidence in connection with the investigation and prosecution for a crime other than an offense under this chapter or section 6308(a).
(4) This section shall not bar the admissibility of evidence in connection with the investigation and prosecution of a crime with regard to another defendant who does not independently qualify for a safe harbor under this section.
(d) Civil immunity. — In addition to any other applicable immunity or limitation on civil liability, a law enforcement officer, campus security officer or prosecuting attorney who, acting in good faith, charges a person who is thereafter determined to be entitled to immunity under this section shall not be subject to civil liability for the filing of the charges.
§ 2811. Civil remedies.
Nothing in this chapter precludes a civil remedy otherwise provided by law.
Guidelines: Recognizing Hazing
Hazing includes not only actions or situations which cause pain, injury, physical stress, fatigue or discomfort; it includes those that may produce embarrassment, ridicule, harassment, anxiety, mental or emotional discomfort, or be threatening or frightening. Activities that constitute hazing can be hard to recognize, especially by those who participate in those activities themselves. If you are planning an activity or event for your peers, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of them, your event may involve hazing.
- Would you hesitate to describe this activity, or to show photos or videos of it, to your parents, dean, professor, or employer?
- Would you be uncomfortable if the details of the activity were made public or appeared on the local news?
- Does the activity involve deception?
- Does the activity involve nudity or clothing that is conspicuous or in poor taste?
- Is the activity physically uncomfortable? Does it involve physical exertion, noise, heat or cold?
- Will the activity be stressful? Will it cause embarrassment or anxiety?
- Are there any safety issues or risk of injury?
- Does the schedule interfere with academic work, sleep, or self-care?
- Do the activities run counter to any law or College policy?
- What if someone doesn’t want to participate? In a community of respect like Bryn Mawr, it’s assumed that one would respect and listen to any student who opts out of or speaks out against activities that others consider the norm. Doing anything else, such as ostracizing someone for failing to participate, might in itself constitute hazing.
- If no one opts out or objects to an activity, is that evidence that it’s not hazing? Remember that hazing is by nature socially coercive. Just because someone consents to participate in an activity and has the choice of opting in or out of it does not mean that the activity is not hazing. Peer pressure and the desire to belong may undermine a person’s ability to provide true consent.
- Where can I get guidance if I’m uncertain? Any of the deans, coaches, or student life staff would be glad to help, as would members of the Honor Board.