Policy on Hazing
Policy Category: Student Affairs
Effective Date: 9/13/2023
Responsible Officer: Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Human Resources Officer
Responsible Office: Dean of Students
This policy guides Wentworth Institute of Technology (university) constituencies in matters related to hazing.
This policy applies to all members of the Wentworth community, students, faculty, staff, and affiliates.
Wentworth Institute of Technology prohibits any form of hazing by individuals or groups. The university broadly defines hazing as any action or activity directed at a student or employee that a reasonable person would view as intending to endanger the physical or mental health of a person for initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for maintaining membership in a group, organization, or living community. Knowledge of, indifference toward, or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts and may be construed as violations of this policy. Students or employees who perpetrate, plan, or witness (without reporting) hazing, or have knowledge or withhold information of an incident or incidents of hazing, are subject to conduct action.
This definition shall apply regardless of location or consent of participants. Hazing includes, without limitation, behaviors that violate Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269, Sections 17-19.
In addition to how the Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines hazing, the university prohibits the following forms of hazing, which include, but are not limited to:
- Assignment of duties to potential new members or new members not assigned to other members
- Verbal abuse
- Forced attendance of a gathering of any sort
- Requiring students to violate The Student Code of Conduct
- Requiring of employee actions that contradict the guidelines
- Exposing someone to extreme conditions or activities with the possibility of endangering that person
- Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
- Forced or coerced sexual simulation or acts
- Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances
- Expected participation in illegal activity
- Threats or implied threats
- Requiring situationally inappropriate attire
- Deprivation of privileges
- Silence periods
- Social Isolation
Additionally, all students and employees must report suspected incidents of hazing.
Punishment for an organizer or participant in hazing is a $3,000 fine or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year. Penalty (Section 18) for failure to report hazing to the extent “such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others,” is also a crime and subject to a fine of $1,000.00.
- Hazing (M.G.L. Ch. 269, §§ 17): “Any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug, or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action.”
- Student Organization: For the purposes of this policy, every student group, student team or student organization which is part of such institution or is recognized by the institution or permitted by the institution to use its name or facilities, is known by the institution to exist as an unaffiliated student group, student team, or student organization, or who represents the university.
- Club sport: Any student-led group recognized by the Center for Wellness.
- Varsity athlete: Any student participating in a sport recognized as an NCAA Division III program at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Notification of the law
- In compliance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Anti-Hazing Statute (M.G.L. Ch. 269, §§ 17, 18, and 19), the university annually provides each student with a copy of the state law.
- The Center for Student Life and Center for Cultural and Global Engagement must review the law annually with all executive board members and advisors of recognized student organizations. Executive board members are responsible for sharing the information with their active members.
- The Athletic Department is required to review the law annually with every varsity athlete.
- The Center for Wellness is required to review the law annually with all club sports participants.
Reporting incidents of hazing
- Faculty or staff that feel they have been impacted by, have knowledge of, or witness hazing should report those behaviors to Human Resources or through EthicsPoint
- Students who feel they have been impacted by, have knowledge of, or witnessed hazing should report those behaviors to law enforcement. Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable.
- The Dean of Students is responsible for filing a report annually with the Board of Higher Education attesting to the university’s compliance with the law.
Additional Information & Related Documents
- The Student Code of Conduct
- Student Organization Manual
- Club Sports Manual
- Student-Athlete Manual (available upon request)
- Human Resources Guidelines
- Whistleblower Policy
Interpretation & Revision
Any questions of interpretation regarding this policy shall be referred to the Dean of Students. They will be the final authority regarding the interpretation of this policy.
This policy shall be reviewed every three years, however minor changes and updates can be made at any time.
Wentworth will typically apply the policy in place at the time it receives a report concerning the respected policy.
Additionally, in instances where two or more policies are implicated, a case-by-case determination will be made to determine what policy will be used.
Review and Revision History
Representatives from Wentworth Police Department, Student Affairs, and Human Resources drafted this policy. It was reviewed by Cabinet and approved by the President on 9/13/2023.