RefinED Character is an educational consulting company specializing in social emotional development for preK-12 and collegiate communities.


Consent is Not a Defense for Hazing

Posted by Scott Heydt on Thursday, September 25, 2014 Under: Hazing

RefinED Friends,

As we conclude National Hazing Prevention Week, it's important that some of the most foundational aspects of hazing remain in the forefront--namely consent.

All too often, an excuse from those choosing to haze is, "We gave him/her the option to say no." OR "He/She told us he was okay with it."

Over the past few days, Clemson University's women's soccer team has been in the headlines for a hazing incident back in 2011. A former player alleges she was blindfolded with her freshmen teammates, placed into the trunk of a car, driving around (with stops along the way involving other degrading behaviors), and eventually brought to the soccer field where the team plays its games. At that time, she alleges she was removed from the car, told to spin in circles, then run sprints, all while still blindfolded. At a point during the running, the young woman struck a wall and, as a result, suffered irreparable brain damage. 

This Monday, a report was released that chronicles responses from the three Clemson coaches who were on staff (but not present) at the time of the incident. Here's where it becomes inexcusable. Instead of affirming that the behavior of the upperclassmen was unacceptable, one of the coaches responded, "damages were caused by the greater negligence and/or willfulness of the Plaintiff."

It's easy to throw the blame back on the hazed individual. After all, we're taught that all human beings are responsible for everything they say, think, feel, and do. I firmly believe this, but I also believe that it is not developmentally appropriate to ask a young woman in this player's position to step up and say no. It's an extremely courageous step that must be taken. This is where consent (or willfulness) cannot be used as a defense.

If I'm an 18 year old freshmen girl who has just arrived on campus and has been given the opportunity to play Division 1 collegiate soccer, my default will be to do what I can to ingratiate myself to the team. The risks of not complying with the pressures of hazing far outweigh the risks of compliance, at least at the moment. The point isn't that this young lady should have said no and stepped away. The point is, she should have never been placed in a situation where she must say no to these acts in the first place.

The remarks of the Clemson coaches is an indication of the work we must continue to do so that our young men and women understand that hazing practices don't build team unity, and consent is not a defense.


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In : Hazing 

Tags: hazing "clemson university" soccer "women's soccer" consent