By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Pledging rules for this year won’t change significantly after all, after a summer of discussions between Campus Life and university officials and social club advisers and officers.
Dr. Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, said, however, that risk management will be more highly scrutinized as the university tries to reduce safety and hazing concerns in the pledging process.
“We’re looking through a different lens,” Barnard said. “We’re looking at risk management more closely.”
Much of the concern was raised after the university brought in Rick Barnes, speaker for a nationwide program that sends people around the country to address issues such as hazing, to address club leaders and review each club’s pledging proposals.
Barnard said some of the concerns raised included: the extremely physical nature of pledging, particularly with men’s clubs, sleep deprivation that comes from Bid Night lasting all night and the use of blindfolds, among other examples.
After hearing Barnes and having discussions with other administrators, Barnard said the general consensus in the spring was, “We need some pretty significant changes.”
With summer quickly approaching when many clubs plan pledging events for the fall, Barnard said club officers wanted to know about possible changes. On Monday of finals week in May, they were given a draft of possible changes. Although those changes were not finalized, Barnard said the list “created a furor.”
Frater Sodalis president Mac Leavell, senior youth and family ministry major from Abilene, said the list of possible changes—which included items like no calisthenics or blindfolds and members having to sit with pledges during Chapel—left many club officers feeling unprepared heading into the summer.
Barnard said they all agreed to continue the discussion about possible changes into the summer.
“Wisdom prevailed—collective wisdom—and the decision was made, ‘We need to back off. We need time for conversation.'”
Barnard said after meetings with administrators and social club advisers, they made the decision to continue discussions and evaluations about the pledging process this year in preparation for changes for the next pledging season.
In order to standardize the review process for pledging activities, Barnard said the main change that took place this year was the creation of a pledging proposal review. Each proposed activity will be reviewed by Campus Life, and unapproved proposals will be returned to clubs for revision. The process allows clubs three potential opportunities to submit pledging proposals for approval.
Leavell said he believes this process of approval will help clubs.
“This way each club will hopefully be observed individually and then be told how to improve the process,” Leavell said.
Barnard said club advisers have come to him already saying they realize parts of their pledging process that need to change and he hopes club officers will do the same thing—an idea that some clubs have already begun to embrace.
“Frats has decided to go ahead and try to implement a few changes on our own so that if changes are made next year, there will be a smoother transition into those changes,” Leavell said.