After you accept an invitation to become a member in a sorority, you will go through educational training called pledging. Pledge periods vary, usually spanning three to eight weeks. You and your new sisters will use this time to get to know one another while learning about the history and values of the organization and what it means to be a sorority member. If, however, you decide it isn’t for you, you can quit at any time.
One of the most important aspects of pledging is learning about the sorority. Each week, you will have meetings with the other new members who are a part of your pledge class. Your pledge class will spend time with an active member called a pledge educator, learning about the history and founding principles of the sorority. You'll have to study and take quizzes to demonstrate proficiency with the terms, symbols and rituals originated by your sorority. As you learn about the sorority, you'll feel more connected to the organization and more comfortable as a new member.
One of the main reasons you probably chose to join a sorority was to make life-long friends. The pledging period is specifically designed to give you the opportunity to meet new people and develop close relationships. You will be assigned a sorority mom or big sister who will serve as a mentor throughout your time in the organization. You will also receive a pledge book that has a page for each sorority member. You can use this book as a way to interview your new sisters and get to know them better. During your pledge period, you'll participate in service projects, social activities and academic study sessions. Have fun and use every activity as an opportunity to learn more and get connected.
You may have heard horror stories about how pledges are hazed. Hazing is against the law and college campuses have established “zero tolerance” policies banning hazing activities. For example, an excerpt from the hazing definition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is as follows: “an act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of any person.” Greek organizations are educated about hazing and can lose their organizational charter if they engage in any hazing behavior. You may feel challenged by learning new things, meeting new people or managing your time but you should not experience hazing while pledging.
Your reward for completing your pledge period is the initiation ceremony. The final week of your pledge period is called Initiation Week. This is a fun week of activities designed to celebrate all you have learned and accomplished as a new member. The initiation ceremony is unique to each chapter and the ritual involved is a secret only you and your sisters will know and understand. Once you are initiated, you will be an active member and you will have the opportunity to help new members through the pledge period.
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