To the incoming college freshmen or sophomore a fraternity may seem like a great way to meet new friends. Social fraternities in the Greek system at many large undergraduate schools are a great way to make new friends, potential business contacts for the future and a great way to gain leadership experience. However, there is the issue of the “pledge process”, which is a period of proving yourself to the organization to gain membership.
What exactly is pledging?
Pledging is a period that potential new members go through in order to gain membership into most social fraternities. Some fraternities have done away with the pledge process or relabeled it, but it is still prevalent with most large organizations. The process typically includes library hours (required by the school), gym hours, minimum GPA, “bonding” activities and scheduled meals with the other pledges. Pledging is a tough process that potential new members go through to bond with their other pledge mates and to get to know the history and standards of the organization.
Is there hazing?
The top question from potential new members and their parents are the issues of hazing. Hazing has largely been abolished during the peak fraternity years of the 1990’s. Hazing is against strict moral code, legal laws and is abolished in most national fraternity guidelines. In short, hazing is defined as something that is done to embarrass or humiliate someone against their will. Some fraternities still partake in hazing, but for the most part students know their own limits and speak out if hazing is occurring.
Why is pledging needed?
On a cold Monday night, I entered a room with 16 complete strangers from all social and economic backgrounds. As I looked around, I noticed I had only seen some of these students once or twice on campus. I introduced myself and my surprise everyone else was as nervous as I was. This was my first day of rush for a large social fraternity known as Tau Kappa Epsilon. There were athletes, different races, rich and poor students and various levels of egos. The group was by any standard diverse, but they were about to become my future best friends. After the introductions started, we were informed about what the fraternity was about and what to look forward to during the pledge process.
Because we were all strangers to one another, we could hardly call each other friends, let alone brothers. The pledge process lasted for about nine weeks, which included library hours and many sleepless nights’ fraternity activities such as learning the Greek alphabet, history of the organization and fun activities. Once the process was completed, I knew that we all had each other’s backs no matter what the circumstance. The pledge process allowed us to grow out of our comfort zones in social situations and made everlasting friendships from a group of complete strangers. The process also helps members appreciate their work to get into the fraternity, which translates into hard work to keep the organization active once they are initiated.
Fraternities are just places for kids to have parties, right?
Fraternity brothers are heavily stereotyped as being partiers that barely pass school. Although fraternities have parties they also teach students to become actively involved in the community via community service, leadership opportunities through officer positions and lifelong friendships.
My college experience as a fraternity brother led me to many different positions including fundraising chair, treasurer (Crysophylos) and head of finance. The treasurer and head of finance positions that I held during two separate years allowed me to manage dues, fraternity spending and over $20,000 in net assets. I learned how to become responsible with spending and micromanage. These skills are transferable in the workplace and are looked highly upon by job recruiters. Leadership positions teach adaptable management experience, budgeting and the art of motivating a large group of other members.
Personal experience as a TKE brother during college