KENT, Ohio (WKBN) – Earlier this year, Kent State University gained recognition as an R1 research school by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Other universities include Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Purdue and Penn State.

It’s the highest honor doctoral universities can receive for their research. One of those research projects is a ground-breaking study on hazing: Why people haze and what can be done about it.

WKBN First News has reported on hazing allegations involving members of the Mohawk Football team. While this study focused on social fraternities, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology Aldo Cimino, who worked on the study, says hazing is widespread. His goal is to learn why people keep engaging in what he calls “severe initiations.”

“Hazing reaches deep into human history. It reaches across cultures. It shows up in all manner of environments,” Cimino said. “We’ve seen it in small-scale, so-called tribal cultures.”

In a modern context, hazing still pops up in groups across the socio-economic spectrum.

“Hazing has been found in marching bands and all manner of clubs, among police officers, among firefighters, in some white and blue collar workplaces will have sort of a sub-communities that will engage in hazing,” Cimino said. “Hazing is sometimes found among doctors and nurses.”

Cimino said there are many theories about why people haze. One theory is dominance, establishing a pecking order with senior members of a group. Another theory is hazing helps weed out freeloaders from a group.

“The possibility that hazing created group solidarity, but it actually increased how committed and dedicated and cohesive members feel,” he said.

Cimino’s research suggests hazing alone does not create the solidarity people have long thought, but hazing still keeps happening despite decades of anti-hazing campaigns and laws against it.

“Organizations that have worked against hazing have treated the desire of fraternity members to have severe and challenging inductions as fundamentally illegitimate,” Cimino said. “We need to look into how to satisfy these organizations’ desire to have challenging inductions, very challenging inductions in ways that are substantially safer for their participants and in ways that allow for informed consent.”