With some colleges already half way through their recruitment weeks, many of you have been asking what to expect at the pledge ceremony and from the pledge process for fraternities and sororities.
When a potential new member accepts a Greek bid invitation, they become a new member, formally known as a pledge. The word “pledge” has received a negative connotation and as a result, many organizations have chosen to adopt the new title of “member” for the person pledging and “new member education” for the pledge period itself. The ceremony event, however, is still usually referred to as the pledge ceremony.
The pledge ceremony is considered the event where you officially accept your invitation by “pledging” your loyalty to the organization and fully commit to learning about the organization’s values and history. The ceremony also marks the beginning of the process to become initiated.
Pledge ceremonies usually involve secret and sacred activities. Because students may drop out of the new member education period and reveal their pledge ceremony experience to the world, most ceremonies have the organization’s ritual present at the ceremony, but new members are unaware of its existence and therefore do not recognize the ritual. Common activities at pledge ceremonies are singing, signing a book and receiving a pledge pin. New members may wear the pin on campus or to special events to signify their commitment to their newly joined organization.
During the new member education, new members learn more about the organization’s history, values, event participation, sisterhood/brotherhood, philanthropic endeavors and academic expectations. This is also when the new members will heavily interact with other new members, known as their pledge class, and begin bonding with the current members. The new member educator, a sorority/fraternity member who is in charge of the pledges, organizes mandated study times, optional social events, mandatory philanthropic events and/or weekly meetings.
The new member education period is also when most new members receive their big brother or sister, a mentor to guide them through the sometimes stressful and overwhelming process.
Once a new member completes the education period, which can last anywhere from six weeks to a full sememster, and they remain in good standing with the organization, they are then normally eligible for initiation into the fraternity or sorority.