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University report reveals 16 students suspended for fraternity hazing in the past year

Kaylee Kasper / The Daily Princetonian

Princeton University released its biannual update on hazing, which included what appears to be two incidents: one relating to initiations for a student group and another relating to severe violations of the University hazing policy during a fraternity initiation. In the latter incident, 16 students were suspended for time frames ranging between one semester and two academic years, four students had their degrees withheld, and five students received disciplinary probation.

Rumors of a significant hazing incident on campus have been swirling for months, but the report is the first public confirmation of the incident.


In accordance with the Federal Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act (REACH) Act, Universities are required to disclose hazing incidents. 

In 2021, New Jersey passed its own hazing law which increased penalties for hazing. The law specifies a variety of examples of hazing, including inducing “another person to consume any food, liquid, alcoholic liquid, drug or other substance which subjects the person to a risk of emotional or physical harm or is otherwise deleterious to the person’s health” or subjecting “another person to abuse, mistreatment, harassment, or degradation of a physical nature.” The same law also requires biennial disclosure of hazing incidents. 

Examples of hazing according to University policy include ingestion of any undesirable substance, such as alcohol, food, or drugs, participation in sexual rituals or assaults, acts that could result in physical, psychological, or emotional deprivation or harm, and participation in illegal activities.

The most recent report includes the reporting period of Aug. 1, 2022 through Feb. 1, 2023. It mentions all adjudicated violations of the University’s policy prohibiting hazing and all violations of federal or state laws relating to hazing that are reported to the University during that time frame. 

The report includes the date in which the subject was charged with a policy violation and the date the matter was resolved, a description of the violation, any investigation or findings, and the imposed penalties, if any.

On Dec. 16, 2022, 27 students were charged and later found responsible in relation to a fraternity-related hazing incident. Of the 27, the three students who received harsher penalties organized the activities. According to the report, at least one of the three who organized the activities was a newly selected member.


The other 24 students were found responsible for attending fraternity hazing events. The report notes that students convicted may have attended events either as a member or as a pledge.

The violations of University policy do not include specifics, but the report describes two broad categories of violations. The first is that new members, some of whom were minors, were “encouraged to consume foods, liquids, and alcoholic beverages in a manner that risked physical and emotional harm.” The second category is that new members were encouraged to “participate in physically and emotionally demeaning and/or dangerous conduct that placed the members at a substantial risk of physical injury and other harms.” Three students were found to be responsible for “physical injury to some new members.”  

The report also notes three students who were found responsible for “failure to get help for [a] student who was having an adverse nicotine reaction.” 

The University determined that 15 of these students were part of an effort to withhold information from investigators, providing incomplete or inaccurate statements. Two additional students refused to cooperate with the investigation. In addition to suspension, seven students were censured above their penalty “for their dishonesty or failure to get help or to underscore the seriousness of their conduct.”

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Four graduating students had their degrees withheld, for durations ranging from one semester to two years.

These penalties are determined by the University’s Committee on Discipline (COD) which is responsible for handling “serious non-academic misconduct; [and] for assessing reported violations” The range of penalties includes a reprimand, a disciplinary probation, a one-semester to three year suspension, and an expulsion.

The University declined to identify the fraternity or fraternities in question.

According to the report, “factors considered in issuing penalties included whether the students participated in hazing as both a pledge/new member and as a member, whether they were dishonest and their level of dishonesty, whether they had additional charges for failure to get help or non-cooperation, whether they were particularly cooperative with the investigation, and the seriousness of their conduct.”

The University does not recognize fraternities and sororities because “they do not add in positive ways to the overall residential experience on the campus,” according to Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities 2.2.8. They are not permitted to use University resources or participate in University-sponsored events. Nevertheless, according to the Daily Princetonian’s senior survey, 20.3 percent of seniors had been or still are a part of Greek life during their Princeton career.

The other violation mentioned in the report was related to a student organization. On Aug. 17, 2022, 22 members of a student organization were charged with a violation. The violation in question involved an initiation event during which “students were falsely told they were participating in a ‘second tryout’ and that resulted in new members being criticized, intimidated, or demeaned during the initiation process.” The report also cites alcohol being served to minors.

The circumstances resemble those described in a guest contribution by Aybars Önder ’24 in September, who described his experience with Princeton Debate Panel (PDP) initiations and characterized them as hazing. 

Representatives of PDP declined to comment.

Four students organized the event and were found responsible for participating in hazing as members according to the report. Those four received “six months of disciplinary probation.” One other participant with an “unrelated alcohol policy violation” received four months of probation.

17 additional students, who aided but did not organize the initiation process, were found responsible “for participating in hazing as members.” All seventeen received a reprimand. In contrast to the fraternity incident, the report doesn’t mention any newly initiated members or prospective members being subject to disciplinary action.

The University released a Five-Year Report on Hazing in January 2022, covering a period from March 2017 through March 2022.

There were other smaller-scale fraternity hazing incidents listed in the Five-Year Report. In 2019, there were three separate violations related to fraternities.

One member of a fraternity was cited for doing a “Dragon Ball Z Saiyan Scream” during class and “being dishonest during the University investigation into the incident.” They were held responsible for participating in activities defined as hazing, disorderly conduct, and dishonesty and received 10 months of disciplinary probation. Another violation included a member of a fraternity who interrupted a class by doing a “robot dance” and for dishonesty during the University investigation. They were also held responsible for participating in University-defined hazing activities, disorderly conduct and dishonesty and received nine months of disciplinary probation. 

In December 2019, five fraternity members dropped pledges at a location five to six miles from campus and ordered pledges and new members to walk back to campus in the 20-degree weather.  The five existing members and nine new members and pledges were found responsible for hazing and got disciplinary probation ranging from four to 15 months.

It is unclear when the biannual report was first posted on the University website, though the report collects data up to Feb. 1.

Lia Opperman is the Investigations Editor and an associate News editor for the ‘Prince.’

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