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Newsletter > January 2019 > "Are Mandatory Study Tables Considered Hazing?"
Are Mandatory Study Tables Considered Hazing?
Ilana Linder, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
A federal Complaint was recently filed by Sigma Lambda Upsilon (SLU) against the University of Virginia (UVA) that begs the question of whether requiring pledges to study at least twenty-five (25) hours per week
constitutes “hazing.” UVA and the individual administrators named in SLU’s suit answered this question
affirmatively when it decided to suspend SLU from participating in fraternal activities on campus. The
suspension followed what the Complaint deems to be a “sham investigation” by UVA after one student told a professor about the burdens of adjusting to college life and trying to pledge a sorority. Importantly, this
student never indicated that she was being hazed, abused, assaulted, or otherwise mistreated by SLU.
The predominately-Latina sorority asserts multiple claims against UVA and the individual defendants,
including deprivation of free speech and association rights under the First Amendment, denial of equal
protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, conspiracy to deprive SLU of civil rights, disparate
treatment discrimination, and negligence. SLU’s Complaint points to multiple instances in which all-male
student groups or organizations—such as the profitable sports teams—engaged in similar behaviors that
required participants to commit a certain number of hours each week, yet those groups were not similarly
sanctioned by UVA. The sorority also challenges UVA’s hazing policy as not being clearly written so as to put groups on proper notice of what sort of conduct violates it. UVA’s hazing policy currently prohibits action that is “designed to or produces mental or physical harassment, discomfort, or ridicule.”
Fraternal Law will continue to follow this case and provide future updates.