UC Berkeley takes allegations of hazing in student organizations, teams, and other student groups seriously. To help our students feel supported, the University has put together this page with information for members of a student’s support system outside the University (parents, guardians, other family members, mentors, etc.) so that they can feel prepared to identify harmful behaviors and direct their student to appropriate campus resources.
While it is normal for your student to undergo transition when they start school, you know your student best and may be the best person to notice when something isn’t right. Watch for warning signs of hazing that could include:
- Emotional reactions: Anger, confusion, betrayal, fear, resentment, embarrassment, humiliation, hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety, and depression are all normal feelings. Self-blame can also occur and is fueled by hazers who tell new members that they will let others down if they leave or tell anyone what is going on.
- Physical reactions: exhaustion, headache, hangovers, illness, and injury.
- Other concerns: social rejection, backlash, increased/more severe hazing for other group members, or they may feel they’ve invested too much already to walk away.
If you notice some of these reactions, try talking with your student. Many hazing victims don’t realize they’re experiencing hazing, or they may be in denial. When talking with your student about hazing, keep the following in mind:
- Start by expressing your concern.
- Describe to your student what you have observed (e.g., lack of sleep, changes in your student’s mood, energy level, ability to do work).
- Ask your student what they have had to do as part of joining the group. If they describe experiencing behaviors that sound like hazing, underscore that hazing is not ok and that they don’t have to go along with it.
- If you suspect that your student is being hazed but won’t say so, ask if there are things going on that they aren’t supposed to talk about.
- Let your student know it’s okay to withdraw from an organization at any point and that there are lots of communities and groups to join on campus instead.
- Offer to support your student in getting care and support on campus, and ask how you can be helpful.
- Let your student know what resources are available for support and reporting. You can reference this website and our resources page!