Do Not Mock the Freshmen

Here from a 1495 Leipzig University Statute is some good advice for the first day of classes:

Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen.

Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water or urine, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation.

Hat tip: Jason Kuznicki.


aka the first anti-hazing law. did they also have double-secret probation?

--and so commenced the illustrious history of post-secondary remediation! (Maybe the problem is modernity itself . . . ?)

Duly noted.

Clarify "drench"?

Does Freshman hazing occur to any extent in American / EU universities? My impression was it was restricted to the Frats and Military Schools. Just wondering.

The comparatively recent hazing death of a Florida A&M band member comes to mind (not a military school, can't speak to the frat and sorority culture of the school, though). Hazing does not seem common any longer and is now routinely discouraged even at military schools, from what we're told. (Wonder what STEM hazing would consist of . . . ?)

(Wonder what STEM hazing would consist of . . . ?)


I've heard both the qualifying requirements and excessive course load of my physics grad program justified as "I suffered through it, so you damn well will, too," which seems a good indicator of hazing.

It works, though. I have instant comradery with anyone else who's complete a Jackson problem set.

My roommate was a Physics grad student. He would return at 2 in the morning on weekends muttering something about Jackson problems. I didn't realize they were so widely assigned/known.

Well at Caltech we had both Jackson and Cohen-Tannoudji problem sets for required junior undergrad courses (not forgetting Apostol for mandatory freshman calculus) and that should have been enough hazing. But there were also showering, ponding, the frosh run, and the Black Hand among other niceties. STEM students can dream up lots of creative ways to harass frosh.

Widely known by Wilt Chamberlain.

Anyone who's ever used Rudin for Real Analysis can sympathize with that, too.

Rudin's harder or Apostol?

Oh yes, right: Bands and Athletics seem another last focal spot of hazing on campus. Band, athletics, ROTC and frats were the hazing locales I'd ever heard of on campus.

I assume hazing is common in Japan too, at the very least it's well documented among Sumo wrestlers.

And apparently hazing is known as ragging in India and is well known:

You don't even want to know what they do with the tubas.

The presence of the rule is good evidence that the hazing happened routinely. You don't go around writing rules until it's a real issue. It reminds me of studying in St Andrews. Right before final exams we got a special note about how we were absolutely not to throw food at students coming out of exams [1]. Of course that was the traditional thing to do to your friends!


I love overly specific lists. This reminded me of the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

This offers a lot of suggestions for how to annoy freshmen for those who may have wished to but weren't sure how.

Yes. My first thought was "No U-Turn" sign.

Urine was named specifically. This implies that urine was used commonly enough as a hazing device to warrant being named specifically. Oy.

They had last night's bed pans to constantly dispose of.

Comments for this post are closed