The Office of Student Life will change pledging procedures in the fall and will consider replacing pledging with an induction and orientation process by spring 2018.
Tom Craig, director of student activities and productions, sent an email to club officers Friday explaining each of the changes to be implemented this fall and possibly the fall of 2018.
“Some circumstances were brought to our attention that led to a review of pledging activities,” Craig said. “As a result of that review, it brought about the changes that the officers and sponsors were notified about last week.”
Bid night will now end at 1 a.m. rather than lasting until 5 a.m., as it has in past years. Craig said he believes this will be the most dramatic change to students. Clubs will also be restricted to the Abilene city limits and will not be allowed to impose group discipline on pledges. Visits will be required to take place in groups, and clubs may not plan morning events, such as sunrise devotionals.
Finally, pledging may not involve required physical activity, including the enforcement of pledge intramurals. Pledge classes can decide to create an intramural team, but officers and members will not be allowed to use intramural games as a required pledging activity.
“A greater emphasis will be placed on the mentality of pledging,” Craig said. “Pledging has always been one of those things where some people want to do things and say things to create different levels, so to speak. ‘I’m the existing member, you’re the new member.’ We want to create an environment where everyone feels equally valued. That’s always been part of the structure. We want to place a greater focus on that.”
Craig said some club officers have asked how to change their plans for pledging, or pledge proposals, with so little time.
“We will work with clubs on a one-on-one basis to help them figure out what they can do within the parameters that are established, and help them figure out a good pledge plan,” Craig said. “The good thing with our clubs is they’re not in this by themselves. We’re here to assist and their sponsors are here to assist. So if they have to rethink something, they have a good support system.”
Craig’s email also said Student Life will conduct another review of clubs and the pledging process for the spring semester of 2018. This may lead to the replacement of pledging by an induction and orientation process. Craig did not provide any more details and said there lack of data about the change.
Ko Jo Kai president Sunni Zamora said she was surprised and concerned about how people would react to so much change. She said she supports the initiative even though it will be hard and her club will have to adapt.
“Pledging is a bonding experience that is fun and unique,” Zamora said. “However, I am not a Kojie because of the way I pledged. I am a Kojie because of the principles the club was founded on and the 100-plus girls that I have come to know and dearly love because club brought us together.”
Allen Martin, Frater Sodalis rushing and pledging director, said he was concerned about the timing and circumstances that led to the change and other changes to pledging during the last four years. He said he is not in favor of the shorter bid night because bid night was one of the most memorable parts of his college experience.
“I’m saddened that the future Brats are going to be deprived of some of those experiences because of the actions of others,” Martin said. “During that time, you bond both with your fellow pledges and, in a way, with pledges of other clubs. There’s a sense of ‘we’re all in this together.’ Without pledging, I wouldn’t have many memories or friendships that I have now.”
Although club officers were given short notice of the changes, presidents, vice presidents and pledge officers will attend an officer training workshop during Wildcat Week to discuss pledge proposals.