Pledging is upon us.
It’s that overwhelming time when men and women forget their school work, lives and friends for a four-week, nothing-but-club period.
Clubs create a unique atmosphere on campus and are a good fit for some students. They can give someone a place to belong and help members create memories of what they did while at the university in a way that not many student groups can. However, the cons outweigh the pros when looking at the way the clubs induct new members through pledging.
Pledges will be subjected to physical activities, early-morning meetings and a dress code, and, in the end, pledges will have a newfound loyalty to the club and university, learn coveted club secrets and be initiated into an exclusive group.
Many say these traditions create unity, but this cycle of training new members only breeds an attitude of “since I went through it, you will too.” Many uninvolved with the inner-workings of club watch this process take place year after year, wondering how something so seemingly unintentional, exclusive and often unkind can draw such a large following. Clubs exclusively choose members for various reasons. One reason is to limit the number of new members that join each year. A women’s club member said this exclusivity is required so the pledge class is small and can bond better during the pledging process.
But what about those who wanted to join but were voted against because they didn’t know enough names in club, because they didn’t look the part of that club or because they simply attended too many rushes of competing clubs? How does choosing a few and excluding the rest imitate Christ, the claimed purpose by many clubs? No other student group on campus excludes people the way social clubs do.
Clubs also claim that throughout the pledging process each activity is for a reason, either to teach pledges secrets or the history of the club or to break them down to become stronger people.
Still, clubs don’t do anything throughout the year that requires its members to be stronger, other than the flag football games each week. It is not a club’s responsibility to “build boys into men” as one club president said of Bid Night.
Every student on campus is an adult and does not need a group of peers making them into “men” or “women.” We respect that enduring such a hard process will inevitably unite the pledging class, but frankly, the pledging process, as it stands today, only pushes pledges to do more than they think and are often physically capable of.
During this time, more pledges are sick, tired and emotionally drained from all the pledging activities required of them. Schoolwork is often not a top priority, and many pledges’ grades drop because they aren’t able to complete everything required of them.
The pledging process should be evaluated to reflect the mission and purpose of the clubs. Now it serves as a month of initiation rituals where club members can frighten and push pledges to do anything to fit in with the select group. Perhaps that is the true purpose of clubs.