Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pledge Classes Begin Again-Economic Thoughts, Hazing included

Alpha Kappa Psi-Eta Rho Chapter begun teaching new pledges this past week.

Pledging for a fraternity can be a tough experience, even if you are attempting to pledge a chapter that ISN'T hazing you. And trust me, you don't want to be hazed, because it can be quite brutal. Some of the "milder" examples:
-Having to hold a match while saying the Greek Alphabet multiple times
-Underwear inspections to ensure you are not "wearing the colors" (pledges are not allowed to wear the official colors in some frats/sororities).
-Being forced to run many miles before an initiation ritual in order to induce exhaustion.

And hazing can even result in deaths.

We don't do any of that at AK Psi, but it's still tough. Here's what we require:
-Passing of 5 quizzes and 1 exam (about 70 questions)
-Attendance of at least 2 events of the following type: fundraising, social, philanthropy, professional
-Completion of a "signature book," meaning the pledges must get 2 signatures from every member of the local chapter
-Completion of a pledge project

And did I mention this all has to get done in 5 weeks? Eta Rho traditionally has an accelerated pledge program (5 weeks is actually the minimum allowed by the fraternity).
It can be very stressful. Not everyone makes it, and some that do are often extremely tense during those 5, 6, 7 week periods.

The reason we do this is obvious: we wish to impose high costs on potential members, so we can identify people that are not committed and weed them out. It's significantly easier to kick a pledge out of the program than to expel a full member who isn't pulling his/her weight, and in a school organization, there is actually a lot of weight that needs to be pulled. Particularly when it comes to fundraising. Our chapter has had some real disasters in the past with trying to procure funds, and it's not something we want to repeat.

One might think that pledges would be willing to drop out of the process, but historically this has not been the case. I should know: I've been the pledge educator at the Eta Rho chapter for a year, and I pledged myself. We usually have one or two people drop out in a semester, and we usually have more pledges that are cut from the program by vote of the full members. One pledge who was cut from the program is even back again!
So, it really does show that our pledges do actually have a high perceived value of the fraternity.

So, to think of it:
MBpledge>MCpledge>MCbrother. We work our pledges harder than our Brothers to ensure they are committed, but they are committed regardless.

Hazing actually takes this concept and applies it to some extent, but warping it. Hazing imposes a REALLY high marginal cost, implying that people that jump through those hoops must be REALLY committed.
However, my impression is that hazing really acts more through the mechanism of cognitive dissonance. People who have already jumped through the hoops find out that the frat they joined really ain't that hot...this confuses them and makes them feel uncomfortable, but they end up resolving this dispute in their mind by thinking "THIS FRAT IS REALLY UBER-COOL!"
Actually, that was a study cited in the first edition of "The Social Animal." People who had to sacrifice a lot to get into a dinner meeting of high people evaluted the dinner as great, whereas people who walked right in thought of it as "boring."
In essence, hazing is really more about mind-warping than proving your worth.
So it's a damn good thing our frat doesn't do it.

Plus, why would you want to hurt your family?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

University of Texas
Lambda Phi Epsilon

Jack Phoummarath died in an alcohol-related initiation.
Like many others on Hank Nuwers list, further examination proves this is false.

Poor Jack died long after initiation was completed, when he drank too much of the liquor gifts some girl friends gave him to celebrate his initiation. He was not forced to drink in excess.