Carnegie Mellon University

The Word

Student Handbook


Students have a right to be treated with respect and dignity by and among their peers. Hazing is inconsistent with Carnegie Mellon University’s values and is strictly prohibited. On October 19, 2018, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law. Consistent with Pennsylvania law, the university defines hazing as any action or situation on or off campus that intentionally, knowingly or recklessly endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or that willfully destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission to, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any organization operating under the sanction of or recognized by the university. Any such activity shall be presumed to be forced regardless of the individual’s willingness to participate.

Students and/or recognized student organizations accused of violating this hazing policy or violating Pennsylvania criminal hazing laws (shared below) will be subject to investigation and review through the university community standards process, which could result in disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion from the university for students and loss of recognition for student organizations.

Click here for more information about hazing prevention and response.

Safe Harbor for Individuals Seeking Medical Attention Resulting from Hazing Activities

Consistent with the active medical assistance protocol expectations, an individual shall receive immunity from the university’s student conduct process for allegations stemming from violations of this policy if all of the following apply:

  1. The university first became aware of the individual's alleged violation of this hazing policy because the individual called or contacted university police or student emergency medical services, based on a reasonable belief that another individual was in need of immediate medical attention, that had otherwise not yet been sought, to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
  2. The individual provided their own name to the university dispatch operator or equivalent security officer, police or emergency services personnel.
  3. The individual requesting assistance remained with the individual believed to be in need of medical assistance until security, police or emergency services personnel arrived and the need for the concerned individual's presence had ended.

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Similar immunity from criminal prosecution for hazing offenses under Pennsylvania law is described under 18 Pa C.S.A. § 2210.

 Pennsylvania Definitions of Hazing Offenses:

A person commits the offense of hazing if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, for the purpose of initiating, admitting or affiliating a minor or student into or with an organization, or for the purpose of continuing or enhancing a minor or student's membership or status in an organization, causes, coerces or forces a minor or student to do any of the following:

  1. Violate Federal or State criminal law.
  2. Consume any food, liquid, alcoholic liquid, drug or other substance which subjects the minor or student to a risk of emotional or physical harm.
  3. Endure brutality of a physical nature, including whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics or exposure to the elements.
  4. Endure brutality of a mental nature, including activity adversely affecting the mental health or dignity of the individual, sleep deprivation, exclusion from social contact or conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment.
  5. Endure brutality of a sexual nature.
  6. Endure any other activity that creates a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to the minor or student.

A person commits the offense of aggravated hazing if the person commits a violation of Hazing (as defined above) that results in serious bodily injury or death to the minor or student and:

  1. The person acts with reckless indifference to the health and safety of the minor or student; or
  2. The person causes, coerces or forces the consumption of an alcoholic liquid or drug by the minor or student.

An organization that intentionally, knowingly or recklessly promotes or facilitates a violation of Hazing or Aggravated Hazing (as defined above).  For purposes of this offense, the term “organization” includes:

  1. A fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, corps, club or service, social or similar group, whose members are primarily minors, students or alumni of the organization, an institution or secondary school; or
  2. A national or international organization with which a fraternity or sorority or other organization as enumerated under paragraph (1) is affiliated.

An institution that intentionally, knowingly or recklessly promotes or facilitates a violation of Hazing or Aggravated Hazing (as defined above).  For purposes of this offense, the term “institution” is defined as an institution located within this Commonwealth authorized to grant an associate or higher academic degree.

Note: This offense does not apply to individuals and is not actionable via the student conduct process. Rather, it may be applied to institutions, such as Carnegie Mellon, as circumstances warrant and is included to raise awareness of the particular legal provision.