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The Purpose of Pledging a Fraternity

by Van Thompson

Pledging a fraternity can be a surprisingly exhausting experience, with pledges doing favors for members, planning events and -- in many cases -- being forced to complete increasingly difficult challenges. Pledging usually culminates in an initiation ritual at which selected pledges become full members, and the process of pledging can make pledges view membership as more valuable.

Testing the Fraternity

Pledges don't rank as full fraternity members, so the pledging process gives them an opportunity to get to know their prospective fraternity brothers. They'll also learn about the fraternity's mission and history and get to witness a fraternity member's typical day. This provides pledges with a much closer glimpse into fraternity life than the fast-paced days of rush week and equips them with the information they need to decide whether they want to join the organization.

Testing the Pledge

It's easy for pledges to put their best faces forward during rush week, but the duties and challenges associated with being a pledge gives fraternity brothers a closer look into your personality. Fraternities don't always offer pledges membership, and many of the activities associated with pledging are designed to help fraternity brothers decide whether they want to welcome pledges into their community. Pledges who get angry or hostile about doing favors, who become dangerous or angry when drinking or who engage in other inappropriate behaviors, for example, might not be offered membership.

Increasing Membership Value

If a fraternity were just a club people could join without proving they offer any particular value to the group, membership in a fraternity might seem less valuable. By forcing pledges to work for and earn their membership, fraternities make membership look more appealing. The pledging process doesn't just make membership look better to pledges, though. The fact that a fraternity is selective in its membership helps the organization maintain its mission and to convey a specific philosophy or attitude to the world.

Building Strong Relationships

The rigors of pledging can be exhausting, and many activities are designed to encourage pledges to work together. By encouraging pledges to do rigorous work, they help them build strong relationships. This ensures a close bond between the next generation of fraternity brothers, maintaining continuity for the fraternity. Some members remain friends with their fraternity brothers for life.

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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