Fraternities and sororities have a lot going for them. They provide an instant social network. Members can typically lean on each other for academic support.
There are community service opportunities, leadership opportunities and promises of future professional networking. There are also parties which can lead to allegations of hazing.
What does the law define as hazing?
Colorado law acknowledges the risk of hazing. It notes that hazing often “degenerates into a dangerous form of intimidation and degradation.”
Colorado has clear jury instructions that outline what constitutes hazing. Under the jury instructions, any activity where “a person recklessly endangers the health or safety of or causes a risk of bodily injury for the purposes of initiation or admission.”
Examples of hazing include:
- Grueling physical activities
- The forced consumption of foods, drinks or drugs
- Prolonged deprivation of food, drink or sleep
Notably, the law doesn’t limit hazing to these activities. It just calls them out as some obvious and common examples.
How do I know if I‘m about to cross the line?
It’s important to note the law doesn’t hinge on intentionality. You don’t have to intend to cross the line to be guilty of hazing. A court only needs to find that you have acted “recklessly” and, in so doing, put someone else at risk.
If you ever wonder if your actions could be crossing over the line, your best bet is likely to err on the side of caution. You want to be able to show you were thoughtful and safe.