The Office of Student Life is exploring the possibility of expanding freshmen pledging to all clubs.
The current system allows freshmen to pledge in the spring, but only to clubs with 50 or less members. Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life, said the office will continue research by looking at other schools, data that includes grades and retention and student surveys.
“We’re just researching it, trying to decide if there were other options to expand pledging into freshman year,” Riley said. “Everyone we’ve talked to said there are good things and bad things about it.”
He said the Experiential Learning task force considered the effect pledging has on student involvement in study abroad, internships and other extracurricular experiences. Student Life is also researching other schools, such as Harding University, which allows students to pledge in the fall of freshmen year. At the same time, Riley said the team also considered Bucknell University which changed pledging from fall of freshmen year to fall of sophomore year in 1992. According to the Bucknell website, the change “allows for first-year students to engage with their academics, acclimate to the university and develop friendships with other Bucknellians prior to joining a Greek-letter organization.”
Abraham Enriquez, Students’ Association executive vice president, gave input at a Student Life Committee meeting including Riley, several faculty members and two other students. He said he told the committee freshmen pledging would cause problems because freshmen are learning how to manage their time in college and getting involved in other activities outside of club.
“It’s a way to see other people and see what you can get involved in,” said Enriquez, junior political science major from Lubbock. “Pledging would definitely take a toll on trying to balance those out.”
Galaxy nova master Blake Harpold said changing pledging to the spring could affect the entire university calendar. He said because pledging involves three weeks of rushes, three weeks of pledging and one week to get into club, the events would cut into Sing Song preparation.
“With Sing Song, that’s just not possible,” said Harpold, senior management and information systems major from Fredericksburg.
The pledging calendar wouldn’t change much if freshmen pledged in the fall, but Harpold said it would change the experience for freshmen.
“If you’re thrown into it your first semester, it’s hard to figure out what you want,” Harpold said. “Freshmen aren’t really sure what college is like. They’re scared and then to get hit with three or four of the hardest weeks right after that – that’s a lot for your first semester.”
At the same time, Harpold said pledging could help solidify close friendships sooner and give students more time to be in club.
“That is the whole purpose of club,” Harold said, “to be surrounded by people you can pursue for life.”