Pledging, a familiar word that was used for decades in universities and colleges across the country, has now been changed to New Member Orientation on ACU’s campus. This is part of a flurry of moves that have changed the face of social clubs, now known as fraternities and sororities.
Student Life recently overhauled the entire process by moving the now New Member Orientation (NMO) to the spring, allowing freshmen to rush and join, as well as shortening it to exactly two weeks.
I am not in any way endorsing hazing or anything of that nature, however, I am worried these changes will water down and diminish the traditions that make each club unique.
Traditions are a part of the fabric of ACU: Purple and White, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” after Sing Song and Praise Friday Chapel. Hand in hand these are strong – standing traditions, just as those held by clubs at ACU.
The changes have the ability to potentially create an almost corporate and inorganic feel to joining a fraternity or sorority. Joining is meant to be a challenge, and having a dulled down version can take away from the passion new members would put in.
Some of these changes, like moving NMO to the spring, don’t seem like they would be harmful to students or fraternities and sororities.
Student Life cited many reasons for moving NMO to the spring, including participation for transfer students and freshman retention.
“Timing-wise for first-year students that second semester is a critical point in time they’ve acclimated to college, but often still haven’t found their place in the community,” Tamara Long, vice president for enrollment and student life, said.
If that second semester is considered easier on freshmen, why does it collide with other spring traditions like Sing Song? This will result in a situation where the freshman will have club formal, Sing Song and NMO all in one semester, creating a packed and stressful semester.
While this change may not be harmful or hurt fraternity and sorority membership numbers, changing the name of pledging to NMO still stands out as odd. It stands out in a way that makes the process feel dull and unoriginal while taking away from the community that goes into joining a fraternity and sorority.
Robin McPherson, senior coordinator of fraternities and sororities explained the reason for the change.
“We wanted to get away from terminology that sounds like hazing, so we changed pledging to joining and we changed the pledging weeks to new member orientation,” McPherson said.
As I said earlier, I agree with the university distancing from hazing culture. However, changing the name doesn’t keep the individuals who might want to haze from doing this. I get a similar feeling when hearing NMO is now just 14 days, shorting this process won’t prevent the individuals who might haze from hazing.
It takes minutes to haze, not days. Shifting and rebranding aspects of what is formerly pledging won’t stop this; Swift action will. Taking a stand against what is wrong will, not simply jumping around with names and formats. This results in a gutting of tradition that will only tarnish the history of fraternities and sororities.
We need to work as a community of fraternities and sororities to stop wrongdoing, not tradition.