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Inside the Fraternities: What You Want to Know But Are Too Scared to Ask

We’ve talked Rush and we’ve talked tailgating, but what about pledgeship?

Sorority pledgeship involves some dance competitions, rush practice, and pledge retreats. But for the’s a whole different ball game. When it comes to fraternity pledgeship, you’ve heard the rumors and you’ve seen the movies. But what’s really real? We talked to a fraternity insider to get the scoop on all things pledgeship.

What IS Pledging?

Let’s start with the basics. What does it mean to be a “pledge” to a fraternity? Pledges are the guys that have received a bid to the fraternity, but aren’t yet initiated. A pledge has to prove to active members that they are dedicated to the fraternity, its values and its brotherhood. Each fraternity does pledgeship differently, but the purpose is the same. Pledgeship is designed to build responsibility and loyalty to the fraternity while fostering lifelong friendships.

Is there partying? Drinking? Wild nights? For sure. But there is also substance-free pledging.

Is there rivalry between fraternities? Absolutely. Fraternity members strongly believe their brotherhood is the best on campus, and they’ll make that known. Pledges from different fraternities pull pranks on the other houses and try to prove their brotherhood is the best. For the most part, it's friendly competition.

What Pledging ISN'T

Pledgeship isn’t all fun and games. Do some fraternities haze? The short answer is yes. Tt still happens, but the extent to which “hazing” occurs may not be what you think. Hazing is a lot different since you were in college. The fraternities are doing their best to change their ways. There are national fraternity policies put in place to keep from endangering pledges. Active members say hazing is getting better every single year. They say they realize pledgeship is not meant to make their lives miserable--it's to prepare them to take on the real world.

What to Expect

A pledge can expect to make early morning house calls to the fraternity house. This could be to clean up after the actives threw a party, to have meetings or to even be quizzed. The duties of a pledge include anything from cleaning the fraternity house to driving actives to and from classes. While this can be considered hazing, it is nothing compared to the "old ways." You can’t believe everything you see in the movies.

Another thing to expect is for pledges to study A LOT; although, the studying isn’t just for their classes. Yes, a pledge will most likely have to be at the house for mandatory study hours, but the studying we’re talking about is different. Pledges have to learn everything there is to know about their fraternity. This includes the history, the values, the founders and the name of every single person in the house. The good news? All this studying prepares pledges for the hours of studying that college classes require! Some fraternities even require their pledges to sit in the front row of their classes.

A pledge has to know everyone in his pledge class. This means his name, hometown, major, and maybe even an interesting fact that only pledge brothers would know. In addition to that, if an active sees a pledge on campus, the pledge has to know who the active is. Yes, it’s a lot to memorize, but actives say it's a tool to build brotherhood. Oh, and don’t forget to have your son pack a suit because a large portion of pledgeship may be spent running around Oxford in a suit, tie and pledge pin.

Overall, pledging a fraternity comes with both good and bad, and it isn’t for everyone. Being a pledge requires time management skills and resilience. Pledges have to navigate their first semester of college classes, countless hours of fraternity activities and manage to get some sleep along the way.

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