Policy Title: Hazing Policy
Effective date: 10/20/2015
Pertains to: All students, faculty and staff
Hazing Policy (Adopted by Student Life Committee)
The University of St. Thomas unconditionally opposes hazing and strives to provide an environment that is free from the humiliation and danger of hazing. This policy applies to hazing by or against:
- all persons taking courses at St. Thomas, either full- or part-time, whether non-degree or degree seeking, and whether pursuing undergraduate, graduate or professional studies;
- all participants in St. Thomas study abroad programs or other St. Thomas travel programs, including VISION trips;
- all persons residing in St. Thomas residential housing, whether or not currently enrolled or working at St. Thomas; and
- all persons who are not officially enrolled for a particular term but intend to return to UST and/or prospective students.
The individuals identified above are “covered persons”. This policy applies to hazing that occurs on or off campus and applies regardless of where the hazing occurs.
Hazing is any act, committed on or off campus, that is humiliating, intimidating or demeaning, or endangers the health and safety of a person who is seeking to join, affiliate with, participate in, obtain a leadership position with, or maintain membership in any team, group or organization. Hazing includes active or passive participation in such acts and occurs regardless of any party’s willingness to participate in the activity.
Hazing may take many forms. Some forms may be fairly subtle—for example, occasional name calling or other behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between prospective members and continuing members or alumni of the group or team. Other forms are much more serious and severe, such as behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort to the victim and behaviors that cause physical and/or emotional harm, such as beating, branding, excessive exercise, and forced or coerced alcohol consumption. All forms of hazing are prohibited by this policy.
Hazing may include, but is not limited to, the following:
a. Forced or coerced calisthenics, exercise or running;
b. Nudity or degrading apparel;
c. Corporal punishment (e.g., paddling, hitting, beating, pushing, shoving or tackling);
d. Exposure to uncomfortable environments (e.g., excessive or repetitive noises, yelling or screaming, bright lights, extreme temperatures, confining quarters);
e. Lack of continuous sleep or sufficient sleep;
f. Required eating of repulsive or spoiled food;
g. Forced road trips, abandonment, “dropping” or kidnapping;
h. Personal servitude, unreasonable chores, or lengthy work sessions;
i. Assigning “pranks” such as stealing, defacing objects, or harassing another person or organization;
j. Not providing sufficient study time;
k. Using or causing others to use derogatory or degrading names, yelling or screaming, using obscenities;
l. Manipulating or creating situations that involve hypocrisy, deception, or double standards (e.g., telling a person he or she has failed when, in fact, he or she has not; expecting the person to do anything requested by an active member);
m. Activities that endanger mental or physical health or involve the forced or coerced consumption of liquor or drugs;
n. Conduct that is a crime under local, state or federal law;
o. Academic dishonesty (e.g., cheating, plagiarism, knowingly furnishing false information, forgery);
p. Engaging in or simulating sexual acts;
q. Sexual harassment or other unlawful harassment;
r. Requiring or coercing conduct that is conspicuous and not within community norms; or
s. Alteration or unauthorized use of university documents, records, identification or property.
A covered person violates this policy if the person:
a. Engages in hazing;
b. Solicits, encourages, directs, aids or attempts to aid another in engaging in hazing;
c. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly permits hazing to occur; or
d. Has firsthand knowledge of the planning of a specific hazing incident or firsthand knowledge that a specific hazing incident has occurred, and knowingly fails to report this knowledge in accordance with the complaint procedures below.
A team, group or organization violates this policy if the team, group or 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 organization may include an unofficial club.
Violations of this policy will result in disciplinary action and may result in criminal prosecution. In addition, individuals and may be sued in civil court for mental or physical harm that results from hazing.
If alleged hazing conduct violates this policy and other St. Thomas policy, such as the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the applicable Code of Conduct, or the Statement on Offensive Behavior, St. Thomas will consider and respond to the conduct under all applicable policies.
Because of the socially coercive nature of hazing, a person’s implied or expressed consent to an act of hazing is not a defense.
Any individual who believes he or she has been the victim of hazing, or any student, staff, or faculty member who has personally observed or has knowledge or belief of conduct that may constitute hazing, are expected to report the possible hazing immediately to the Dean of Students Office, Public Safety, or anonymously by e-mailing PSTIPS@stthomas.edu or calling (651)-962-TIPS (651-962-8477, or 2-8477 on campus).
St. Thomas strongly encourages complainants to report to the police all hazing that may violate criminal laws. St. Thomas will assist complainants of potentially criminal hazing in notifying law enforcement authorities. Reporting hazing to St. Thomas does not require the complainant to report the incident or file charges with the police.
Upon request by the police, Public Safety will assist the police in obtaining, securing and maintaining evidence in connection with potentially criminal hazing conduct.
When UST becomes aware of possible hazing, it will take steps promptly to protect the parties and respond as described below.
A. INTERIM ACTION
The Dean of Students and/or his or her respective designee(s) (each a “Responsible Individual”) may take interim action(s) as any of them deems reasonably necessary and appropriate to protect the St. Thomas community. For example, the Responsible Individual(s) may prohibit any person accused of hazing from physically entering or being on St. Thomas property or may change a complainant’s or respondent’s on-campus residency, student status, or work or class schedule. When allegations of hazing are made against a team, group, or organization, the Responsible Individual(s), in consultation with appropriate St. Thomas administrators, may impose restrictions on the activities and events of such team, group, or organization.
B. INVESTIGATION AND DETERMINATION
The Responsible Individual(s) will make a preliminary review of the complaint to determine whether the incident of alleged hazing merits further investigation.
a. If after the preliminary review, the Responsible Individual(s) determine that circumstances do not warrant further investigation or process, the matter will be closed.
b. If after the preliminary review, the Responsible Individual(s) determine that further investigation is warranted, the Responsible Individual(s) will initiate a factfinding investigation into the matter. The investigation will be conducted by one or more factfinder(s) designated by the Responsible Individual(s).
c. The factfinder(s) will weigh the evidence and determine whether it is more likely than not (using a “preponderance of the evidence” standard) that this policy has been violated and by whom. The outcome and conclusions of such an investigation shall be documented in a written report submitted to the Responsible Individual(s).
C. RESPONSIVE ACTION BY UST
The Responsible Individual(s) will review the factfinder’s report. If it is determined that the acts alleged in the written report do not rise to the level of hazing, or that there is not enough information to determine that hazing has occurred by a preponderance of the evidence, the matter will be closed. If it is determined that it is more likely than not that hazing occurred, the Responsible Individuals will work with the appropriate St. Thomas administrators to determine what if any sanctions will be imposed or other action will be taken by St. Thomas. Not all forms of hazing will be deemed equally serious offenses, and St. Thomas may impose different sanctions depending on the severity of the offense and taking into account any previous conduct violations. For individual violations, such sanctions may range from a formal warning up to and including suspension or expulsion from St. Thomas. For team/group/organization violations, such sanctions may range from a formal warning up to and including withdrawal of formal recognition of the team, group or organization by St. Thomas. Findings of a policy violation may lead to individual sanctions and team/group/organization sanctions based on the same hazing incident.
Such sanctions and determinations shall be recorded in writing and maintained by the Responsible Individual(s) in accordance with applicable record retention requirements.
D. APPEAL PROCESS
1. Grounds for Appeal. Either the complainant or the respondent may appeal the results of the formal process if he or she believes: (a) that a procedural error occurred that substantially affected the outcome of the process; (b) that the decision was arbitrary and capricious; (c) that there has been discovery of significant new factual material not available to the factfinder(s) that could have affected the original outcome; however, intentional omission of factual information by the appealing party is not a ground for an appeal; or (d) that the sanction or other response by St. Thomas was excessively severe or grossly inadequate.
2. Submitting an Appeal. A signed, written request for an appeal must be submitted to the Appeal Officer (see below) within ten (10) working days following the date of notification of the outcome of the investigation.
3. Appeal Officer. The Vice President for Student Affairs is the Appeal Officer. In cases involving a potential conflict of interest or other issue preventing the designated individuals from serving as an Appeal Officer, St. Thomas may appoint an alternate Appeal Officer.
4. Consideration of Appeal. The Appeal Officer may consider the appeal directly or the Appeal Officer may, at his or her discretion, appoint an appeal board (consistent with the procedures herein). The appeal board (or Appeal Officer, if no appeal board has been appointed) will not rehear the case, but will consider whether it is more likely than not that the above-listed grounds for appeal have been satisfied.
The appeal board (or the Appeal Officer, if no appeal board has been appointed) will review the appeal, the fact-finding report, and consider any previously undiscovered evidence (if discovery of new evidence is a ground for appeal). In addition, the appeal board (or the Appeal Officer, if no appeal board has been appointed) may meet with the parties and consider other additional information in the discretion of the appeal board or Appeal Officer.
If an appeal board is used, the appeal board will provide the Appeal Officer with a written report of its findings of whether the above-listed grounds for appeal have been satisfied and, if so, a recommendation as to whether St. Thomas should remand the matter or take any different or additional action than was originally determined. Such report shall be provided to the Appeal Officer no later than fifteen (15) working days following submission of the appeal. The Appeal Officer will give careful consideration to the recommendation of the appeal board, but shall not be bound by it.
Within ten (10) working days following receipt of the appeal board’s findings and recommendations, the Appeal Officer will notify the complainant and respondent in writing of the appeal board or hearing committee’s findings and recommendation and the final disposition of the appeal. If no appeal Board is used, the Appeal Officer shall issue a written decision stating the Appeal Officer’s findings and the final disposition of the appeal within ten (10) working days following receipt of the appeal. The Appeal Officer’s decision shall be final.
5. No Further Appeal. Appeals arising out of alleged violations of this policy must be made under this appeal process and are not eligible for consideration under faculty, staff or student grievance policies or processes.
St. Thomas prohibits retaliation against individuals for good faith reports of hazing. No student or employee will be reprimanded or retaliated against for initiating an inquiry, submitting an assertion or complaint in good faith, or participating in an investigation related to a claim of hazing. St. Thomas will take steps to prevent retaliation and will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs. Any conduct constituting retaliation or reprisal is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal and expulsion.
St. Thomas may impose sanctions if it determines that a student or employee knowingly initiated in bad faith a claim of hazing, knowingly provided false information, or intentionally misled a St. Thomas representative during an investigation of hazing allegations or a related complaint.
Dean of Students
Room 241, Anderson Student Center
Department of Public Safety
24-Hour Emergency – (651) 962-5555
Department of Public Safety - (651) 962-5100 (non-emergency)
Anonymously by e-mailing PSTIPS@stthomas.edu
or calling (651) 962-TIPS (651-962-8477)