Let’s Play Why is it Hazing?

My goal here is to attempt explaining the Marine Corps Order regarding Hazing and provide some examples for context.  There is often confusion as to what can be defined as hazing, as the Marines have a tendency to push the envelope as far as possible when it comes to this particular subject and fight it with every base-less logic they can come up with in order to keep each other out of trouble and save their unit’s reputation.

The Marine Corps Order on Hazing (MCO 1700.28B http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO 1700.28B.pdf) can be a Marine’s best friend.  It is one of the few Orders that were written to increase the quality of life for everyone.

Not everyone clearly understands the Order, however.  The examples used in many classes are only of an extreme nature, most pointing to the “blood-winging” video released in the 1990’s.  Hazing can be much less violent and much more discrete than that, and the Order clearly states this fact.

According to Section 2 of the Order, hazing is “any conduct whereby a military member or members, regardless of Service or rank, without proper authority causes another military member or members, regardless of Service or rank, to suffer or be exposed to any activity which is cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning, or harmful.”  It goes further, stating that “soliciting or coercing another to perpetrate any such activity” is also considered hazing.

So what is considered hazing?  Well, following the Order again, “hazing need not involve physical contact between military members; it can be verbal or psychological in nature.”   What this means is that hazing is not just assaulting the new guy, it is also terrorizing him by ANY other means.

Specific examples in the Order are:  “physically striking another to inflict pain outside of a supervised training exercise; piercing another’s skin in any manner (such as “pinning,” “tacking on,” or “blood wing(ing),”); verbally berating another for the sole purpose of belittling or humiliating; encouraging another to excessively consume alcohol or encouraging another to engage in illegal, harmful, or dangerous acts; playing abusive or ridiculous tricks; threatening or offering violence or bodily harm to another; branding; taping; tattooing; shaving; greasing; painting; requiring excessive physical exercise beyond what is required to meet standards; or the forced consumption of food, alcohol, drugs, or any other substance.”

Hazing is not always an NCO treating their Marines like shit.  Section 2d states that hazing can also occur “between peers or involve actions toward senior military personnel by those junior in rank or grade to them.”  Although rare, this does happen, usually to a young officer or NCO.

With such a broad description, many leaders question what is NOT considered hazing.  To their question, refer to Section 2e:  “Properly administered EMI…is not hazing; it provides a tool for small unit leaders to increase proficiency of the unit or individuals in assigned duties.”  It also states that an EMI (Extra Military Instruction) is required to be applied logically and that and is not to be used as a punishment, but as a way to positively correct a carefully identified deficiency.  An EMI may not last longer than two hours per day, must be held immediately prior to or following the work day (if conditions do not allow, the EMI must take place at a different REASONABLE time), may not last longer than it takes to correct the deficiency, should not be conducted on the member’s Sabbath, and may not be used to deprive someone of the normal liberty that they would be otherwise entitled (member can turn to liberty after completion of EMI.)  Only the CO or OIC have the authority to assign EMI after normal working hours, but they also have the authority to delegate this power to officers and NCO’s whose duties include training.

The policy very clearly states in Section 3a that hazing is unlawful, prohibited, will not be tolerated in Marine units or detachments, will not be condoned or ignored, and that it is every Marine’s responsibility to ensure that it does not occur in any form on any level.  Violating, attempting to violate, or persuading others to violate the Order are also prohibited.  Marines found to be violating the Order may also be subject to other violations of the UCMJ such as Articles 80 (Attempts), 81 (conspiracy), 92 (violation of a lawful general order), 93 (cruelty and maltreatment), 124 (maiming), 128 (assault), 133 (conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman), and 134 (general article).

Reprisals or revenge schemes that in any way come from hazing allegations are strictly prohibited.  Victims of hazing are to report all incidents and evidence thereof to their CO immediately.  Commanders are required to conduct a preliminary investigation into every report and all personnel are required to exhibit extreme caution and sensitivity throughout the proceedings to minimize re-victimization.  Investigations are to be focused on the environment that fostered hazing while attempting to prevent future incidents.  Commanders must provide advocacy services for their subordinates and closely monitor victims for stress reactions associated with physical and psychological abuse.

What does all of that mean?  It means you should be able to perform your duties as a Marine without having to worry about being subjected to humiliating forms of torture for things such as being late to work or getting promoted to a higher rank.  It means you don’t need to live in fear.

To put this into context, here are some examples that could be considered hazing by the current Order:

That SNCO that humiliated you in front of the entire company by telling you that you are a worthless piece of shit that doesn’t belong in his beloved Corps because you failed field day has hazed you.
Why is it hazing?  Screaming that kind of vitriol at you was not constructive, did not correct a deficiency, was humiliating, and degraded your reputation in front of your peers.

You were five minutes late for PT formation so Sgt Motardovez woke you up at 0500 on Saturday and PT’d you for three hours.
Why is it hazing?  Physical Training can not be used as a punishment, and running does not correct the problem of you being late.

A senior Lcpl instructed you to go to the tool room and request a boltstretcher, 50 feet of shore line, a can of A-I-R, bottle of blinker fluid, Prick E-5, or any other imaginary object.
Why is it hazing?  Although hilarious and tame by Marine standards, they are purposely sending you on a “dummy” mission in order to humiliate you, and possibly get you a hardcore ass-chewing (if the tool room NCO is a Sergeant…)

You partied a little too hard and passed out…then your fellow Lcpls stripped you naked and drew penises all over you.
Why is it hazing?  Once again, pointless humiliation, and Marines are supposed to be better than that.

You are a Cpl and your Sgt just told you to fail Pfc Bootballs and Lcpl BouttoEAS for field day because one is a boot and the other is a shitbag.
Why is it hazing?  Conspiring to haze someone is still hazing.

Cpl Fuckface and Cpl Roidrage kick your door in and inform you that if you attempt to complain about Sgt Dickbrain’s hazing you, they will beat the bloody shit out of you.
Why is it hazing?  They are intimidating you for speaking out, and that is an act of reprisal.

Cpl PFT thought you didn’t sound off enough, so he took you into one of the storage containers and IT’d you boot camp style.
Why is it hazing?  Incentive Training (IT) is only authorized at Marine Corps Recruit Depots.

One of your SNCO’s referred to you as an extremely disrespectful derogatory term for someone of your background (race, religion, sex, orientation, etc.) in formation, during a class, or in public.
Why is it hazing?  Not only is this humiliating, it is attempting to turn you into an outcast among your peers.

The following section is about hazing on social media sites and the internet.

Your NCO or another fellow Marine took pictures of you and posted them on the internet for the purpose of making fun of your appearance.
Why is it hazing?  Posting pictures, even in an unofficial capacity, that may bring discredit upon the Marine Corps is in direct violation of the Marine Corps Policy on Social Media Guidance [http://www.marines.mil/News/SocialMedia/Guidance.aspx] and the Marines Social Media Handbook [http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Docs/Marines-Social-Media-Handbook[1].pdf].  Attempting to humiliate another service member is hazing.

A picture you posted of yourself ended up on another website and active duty Marines have posted offensive derogatory comments.
Why is it hazing?  Quoting the Social Media Guidance document: “Marines should avoid offensive and inappropriate behavior that
could bring discredit upon themselves and the Marine Corps. This
behavior includes posting any defamatory, libelous, obscene, abusive,
threatening, racially or ethnically hateful, or otherwise offensive or
illegal information or material
.”  Also, this can be seen as an act of humiliation.

One of your pictures ended up on another website and one of your fellow Marines posted your name or other personal information.
Why is it hazing?  From the Social Media Guide:  “Marines should be extremely judicious when disclosing personal details
on the Internet, and should not release personal identifiable
information (PII) that could be used to distinguish their individual
identity or that of another Marine.”  Giving out your personal information can open the door for criminals or anyone else to harass, defame, or humiliate you.

Another Marine created a fake social media profile, used your pictures, and is pretending to be you.
Why is it hazing? They are trying to defame or humiliate you and possibly sabotage your career.  Social Media Guidance states that Marines “should not disguise, impersonate or otherwise misrepresent their identity or affiliation with the Marine Corps.”

There are too many possibilities to list, but pay attention because if you witness it you must report it.  It IS your responsibility.  Hazing is such a huge problem mainly because no one speaks out about it until it is too late.  The best advice I can give is this:  If you think you are the victim of hazing, research the Order and speak with a peer that you trust, then report and document EVERYTHING.  How often you have barracks duty, the frequency of your addition to working parties, how often you fail field day, your work load increase, literally everything.  Finding witnesses helps, if you can get them to man up and step forward with you.  If someone threatens you to drop it or else, report them too.  Whatever you do, do not let them think they can control you with fear, because that is how this shit spreads and sticks around.  Some members of your unit will try that macho bravado brotherhood bullshit and call you a bitch or a pussy.  Let them.  Your SNCO’s and officers will let your NCO’s know not to fuck with you because you will, in fact, not stand up for that bullshit, and those NCO’s will comply whether they like it or not.  If you get to a new unit, that reputation will follow you, but it won’t be bad.  Most of the guys will understand the situation and give you respect for standing up for yourself like an adult.

Hopefully Helpful Links:
Marine Corps Order on Hazing  http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO 1700.28B.pdf
Marines Social Media Guidance  http://www.marines.mil/News/SocialMedia/Guidance.aspx
Marines Social Media Handbook  http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Docs/Marines-Social-Media-Handbook[1].pdf

Submitted by: AAVPOG