With the removal of the physical part of pledging next semester, social club bids will lose much of their significance, both for members and those pledging.
Clubs recently were informed that the physical activities that typically play an integral role in pledging will be removed from the process, and pledges no longer will be allowed to perform physical activities, including calisthenics.
“Calisthenics,” according to the revised ACU Anti-Hazing Policy and Philosophy, include any activity that involves “systematic rhythmic bodily exercises performed, usually without apparatus.”
By removing the physical challenges from the pledging experience, administrators also are impeding the commitment of pledges to their clubs. Without the sense of accomplishment resulting from surmounting physical obstacles, pledges will not acquire the sought level of dedication to their respective clubs. Pledging essentially will morph into a sign-up sheet, and pledges will develop little of the loyalty physical activity traditionally has fostered.
Diminished commitment results in lessened enthusiasm for club activities like service projects, events or even Sing Song. Without deep commitment, organizations fail.
Although filtering and evaluating pledging activities on an individual basis represents a responsible task for administration, completely cutting calisthenics castrates the camaraderie that can only result from collective exhaustion and a necessary reliance on fellow pledges to achieve both group and individual goals.
Wildcats who have decided to partake in the pledging process during the last 50-plus years understood the ramifications of their decision. The physicality of pledging was an accepted and integral part of the process and remains a well-known aspect of the experience among pledges accepting their bids. No pledge is blindsided by the news that they must perform physical activity.
In addition to emasculating the pledging process and undermining its inherent goals, eliminating calisthenics exponentially increases the risk that clubs will go rogue with their pledging activities. Right or wrong, some clubs may resort to off-the-grid, off-campus activity to sustain their traditions.
A quick look at pledging at other universities proves the existence and weight of this temptation. The law that sparked the restructuring of pledging at ACU actually is a state law, making it one that other universities – public and private – must respect. Yet the traditional pledging tales still abound; pledges still are forced to participate in the same activities as always, just without the knowledge of those in charge.
Physical challenge represents an integral and longstanding aspect of the pledging process. It propels pledges toward accomplishing more than they thought possible, both individually and as a group. Removing that challenge eliminates the value of pledging altogether and will transform social clubs into either dwindling cliques or under-the-radar liabilities.