Pledgeship is a word that is familiar to anyone that has ever been part of a Greek organization. It is a required rite of passage that many members of the Greek community look back upon fondly. For most girls, pledgeship means presents, new friends and an entire new world of excitement and fun. However, for a good amount of greek males, the word gives a completely different connotation.
Throughout the years, students have heard of various hazing investigations. At numerous schools, some fraternities have been eliminated completely from campus because of their intense hazing rituals and practices. Many student bodies have watched as their beloved student Greek organizations have mourn the loss of their chapter due to the violence that ensues throughout many fraternities’ pledgeships.
While hazing is a word that is discussed in hushed tones throughout the Greek community, many are aware of its existence. Whether it is done quietly, behind closed doors or out in the open, for most of campus to see, there is no denying that it is a practice that is not going to be completely eliminated anytime soon.
Many fraternity members believe that without pledgeship, there is no bond that connects a pledge class to one another. Some members view pledgeship as something essential in order to feel like you are a real part of the organization. Therefore, upon hearing about Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s pledgeship ban, many fraternity members have felt that SAE is going to be missing out on something that is necessary to the fraternity experience.
So will this new ban cause other fraternity pledgeships to end soon? I don’t think so. Because of the fraternity culture that the University of Georgia has supported for so long, it would be hard for fraternity members to let go of such a seemingly vital element of membership. Pledgeship is one of many long-standing traditions that are observed by fraternal organizations, and many alumni consider it to be an irreplaceable part of the fraternity experience.
But SAE’s reason behind dropping the age-old tradition is an attempt to put an end to the institutional violence that often accompanies hazing. It is a noble cause that I am sure many members of the UGA student body support.
Because SAE has been put under the spotlight, I’m sure that this will renew interest in stopping hazing on the UGA campus. I foresee many more hazing investigations in the future for UGA Greek life.
Whether you agree that pledgeship is essential or not, SAE’s firm stance on the matter marks a new change for the Greek community. Whether this will ripple through other organizations is unclear, but the winds of change are definitely blowing through all of UGA’s Greek life.
—Ashley Harter is a sophomore from Canton majoring in English