What Does It Mean to Pledge a Fraternity?


The process of pledging a fraternity varies according to the fraternity of interest, but the overall concept of brotherhood is the same for each organization. Most fraternities are historical organizations affiliated with college campuses and often steeped in tradition and secrecy. Nevertheless, they must operate under their school's specific rules and regulations regarding fraternities and sororities. While the pledging process varies per fraternity, some schools have banned the process of pledging alogether. Research must be conducted in order to learn each school's and each fraternity's policy regarding pledging.


  • When someone pledges a fraternity, it usually means he has an interest in joining the fraternity and has been approved to pledge to gain membership. Interest is typically expressed by attending one or several meetings, meeting privately with one or more of the members, and/or writing letters to members to express interest. Once an individual has been accepted as a pledge, he is expected to complete a series of tasks over a specific length of time decided by the fraternity members. The final step is a secret, ceremonious initiation into the organization.

New Member Education

  • The period between an individual's acceptance of the fraternity's invitation to join and the pledge ceremony is called "new member education." It also is commonly referred to as pledging or "being on line." During this period, the new member is expected to learn everything there is to know about the fraternity, including its history, member expectations, mission statement, level of community involvement and guiding principles. All new members are expected to become closely acquainted with each other, while also forming bonds of brotherhood with the old members.


  • In addition to new-member education, new members are sometimes expected to participate in and complete rituals specific to that fraternity's traditions. Many of these rituals are secret in nature. The few rituals that are well known include learning the organization's language, taking an oath of brotherhood, passing tests to ensure compatibility with the entire brotherhood, attending a silent dinner and receiving the fraternity's symbolic pin.


  • There is much controversy regarding fraternities and the pledging process. Due to a few incidents of hazing, which resulted in a pledge's death, many college campuses have imposed strict limitations on the operations and privileges of fraternities. Moreover, some colleges have banned fraternities from operating on campus.

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