A person who wishes to join a fraternal organization must first participate in a "New Member Education" program, commonly known as a pledge program. That person is said to be "pledging" that particular fraternity or sorority.

Each chapter of each fraternity has a different pledge program. Most programs are run by a brother acting as the "new member educator". Some common aspects of good pledge programs are:

  • It teach the new member the history and traditions of the organization which they are joining.
  • It allows the new member time and opportunity to get to know the current members, and allows the current members to get to know the new member.
  • The program allows for open communication between the pledge and the new member educator.
  • The new member educator strives to make the program a fun, positive experience for the new members.
  • It should encourage individuality, while at the same time, try to demonstrate to the new member the value of brotherhood and belonging
  • The program does not involve hazing.

I could write a 1000 word essay on how hazing is counter productive and how it shouldn't happen, but I'd rather focus on what pledging should be about. It should be about educating the new member so that when they are brought to full-member status, they will be a productive member.

I often tell new members of my fraternity that if at any point they aren't having a good time while participating in some aspect of the pledge program, they're doing something wrong. Why would anyone spend their free time doing something that they hate doing? Pledging should be a time of enjoyable experiences that one will remember for the rest of their life. As soon as it stops being fun, a pledge should question whether or not the fraternity is right for them, and make a decision on whether or not to stay.

Many people who are not in Greek organizations are totally turned off by the idea of joining because they think that pledging would be a long, hard, humiliating, and often painful experience. They truth is that, for the most part, most fraternities don’t treat their new members poorly. I urge everyone that I meet who likes the idea of a fraternity but not of pledging to give it a try. If you experience anything that even resembles hazing, leave immediately. Any organization who would treat a new member poorly isn’t deserving of your membership.

<SHAMELESS_PLUG>I’m a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi at Drexel University. Information about our pledge program can be found at http://www.aepi.org/resources/chapter/pledge.html. Contact me if you have any questions.</SHAMELESS_PLUG>