Fraternity Pledge Rituals

Create a Lifelong Commonality Among All Brothers of the Fraternity

As long as fraternities have been in existence so has hazing. In fact, more than a century worth of hazing history exists and most of it can be traced back to Harvard University and other European Universities. Hazing, which began as an initiation process, has since catapulted itself from initiation to practices that are significantly more involved and severe than when the practice first began. However, fraternities only use hazing during certain parts of the year, but their rituals are for a lifetime of all the brothers in the fraternity.

The following overview will provide the basics regarding the most popular rituals and their historical value, why they are done, and will provide you with the information you never knew about fraternity pledge rituals.

Popular Pledge Rituals
The initiation oath is required by all pledges that have been extended an invitation to join the fraternity. The president of the fraternity extends the oath and the pledges reply “I do” or “I will” responses. Generally included in the initiation oath are promises to keep the secrets of the fraternity, to promote the fraternity, not to join another fraternity, to obey superiors, and for the new brother to improve himself through the fraternity. These initiation oaths are to connect the pledge to the brotherhood forever.

Other popular rituals include learning the language of the fraternity as well as any signs or symbols associated. For example, the Greek letters are always learned by pledges, as well as their Fraternity’s specific name and any passwords, mottos, handshakes, and the like that might be associated.

The giving of the Fraternity pin to a pledge means he has passed the initiation process and is given acceptance into the Fraternity. Pinning ceremonies are very common and the highlight of most pledges experiences because it means they are truly part of the brotherhood.

Tests are also given to make sure the pledge is serious about becoming a brother and has learned all the information about the Fraternity. Not learning the information is not acceptable and only the pledges that really put forth the effort to become part of the brotherhood will be asked to join and given a pin.

Frequently, on the night of initiation a silent dinner is observed. This is done so the pledges may nourish themselves and mentally prepare themselves for the initiation process.

And finally, there are almost always good faith statements from the members of the Fraternity that nothing bad will happen to the pledge during the initiation process. All of the negative things associated with pledging occur during the hazing process. However, once a pledge has made it through that and initiation night comes around he is treated with respect and a new member of the Fraternity.

History of Pledge Rituals
The rituals are observed with each pledge season and throughout the daily functions of the Fraternity because they were put in place by the Fraternity’s founders. Also, it is a way to make new pledges aware of the rituals in the Fraternity and to include them in their daily Fraternity life. The history behind these rituals are that they are associated with the Fraternity and no matter where the individual is in the world he will be connected with all other brothers, from the past or future, by the rituals of the Fraternity. This is what the founding fathers of the Fraternity wished, that no matter what a member of the fraternity was a brother despite age, geography, or any other element. Rituals create the brotherhood and as such are practiced to keep the bond among the brothers strong.

The same rituals are practiced in all of the chapters of the same Fraternity across the world. Because of this no matter where you encounter a Sigma Nu or Pi Kappa Alpha they will be able to communicate with you if you were a brother of one of these fraternities. This is what the founding fathers of fraternities were looking for, a brotherhood that lasted not only the four years of college, but throughout the brother’s life and in all of his travels. Because of this, fraternities are desirable to many college students because they are joining a lifelong club.

Written by: Staff Writer
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