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Most colleges and universities are back in session for the fall (or will be soon). UNLV began its semester a couple of weeks ago, with thousands of students buying their books and preparing themselves for another semester of classes.

One event which usually coincides with the start of the autumn term is the process known as “rush” for college fraternities and sororities.  Rush is the process by which the social organizations choose their new members. Those individuals which are selected are called “pledges,” which refers to the semester-long probationary period they must navigate before becoming full-fledged members of the fraternity or sorority.

And where there are pledges, there is often hazing.

Asking a fraternity or sorority if they allow hazing is pointless, because every one of them will tell you, “We don’t haze.” That’s because hazing is illegal on college campuses in Nevada and the rest of the nation. It’s like asking a company, “Do you exclude women from management posts?” All of them will tell you they don’t – but some clearly have done so in the past.

Hazing varies in its forms, but it can range from being forced to perform menial or disgusting tasks to ongoing shaming and mental abuse to physical assault and forcible confinement. In years past, fraternities and sororities have hazed pledge classes in the name of “building a bond forged through adversity” or simply for tradition’s sake.

Whatever the reason, you should know that you have the right not to be subjected to hazing. Furthermore, if you are injured as a result of hazing activities, the perpetrator(s) can be held liable for damages in civil court (which does happen).

So if you are a student at an area institution of higher learning and you have been the victim of hazing, talk to a school administrator about it. Schools can impose penalties against sororities or fraternities who violate anti-hazing rules, including banishment from campus. If you have suffered injuries in a hazing incident, consider engaging the services of a personal injury lawyer who can file suit on your behalf.