Hazing can occur unintentionally when there are power disparities – when one group or person can seemingly provide access to a desired outcome. Power dynamics can create an implicit pressure to participate.
Examples of situations where power dynamics exist include, but are not limited to:
- Between Active Members and Potential New Members (PNMs)
- Between Active Members and New Members (this is not solved simply by immediately initiating new members)
- Between Bigs and Littles
- Between outgoing officers and incoming officers
- Between Rookies and Returners
- Between Starters and Substitutes
Presenting an event as optional does not change the power dynamics or the implicit pressure to participate. Events presented as “optional” can still be considered hazing.
If you feel the need to present an activity or event as “optional” ask yourself why. If the reason is because some people could find the event humiliating, degrading, abusive, and/or endangering, that is a major sign that the event should not occur.