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Dyed Green Hair Is Hazing? No Way.

A thoughtful piece in The D on Monday by Nordic ski team member Karina Packer ‘15 asks whether the Dean’s office was correct in disallowing freshman members of the team from dying their hair pink and green — as team members have traditionally done — on the ground that this action constitutes hazing.

Why don’t we try to answer the question with a little rigor. Here is the College’s official definition of hazing:

Hazing rules.jpg

Karina says that this year’s new team members want to dye their hair, as previous members of the team have done. However, we can’t really take her word that the young skiers are not being coerced. It’s tough to prove a negative. So let’s assume for the sake of argument that the hair-dying rite meets the second test of hazing: it is a “condition of initiation” into the team.

However, does hair-dying meet the first test in the NH statute and the College’s rules?

“such act is likely or would be perceived by a reasonable person as likely to cause physical or psychological injury to any person;

Remember, the use of “and” in the statute at the end of clause (1) means that for hazing to be found, both tests must be met, not just one of them.

Well, you are a reasonable person, and I often am, too. Will hair-dying likely cause “physical or psychological injury” to the skiers? Obviously, no judge would believe that proposition, nor would any sensible person. If the case went to trial, we could call in generations of former skiers, and we could have them evaluated by both psychologists and haircare professionals. The answer would be clear.

From this incident, we can conclude two things: the Dean’s Office is out of control, and nobody at the College has even a passing acquaintance with the canons of statutory interpretation.

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