pledge pride

This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.


How do I instill pride into my pledges?


Here are 10 ways:

1)      Include them!

Not only do they need to be a part of your everyday operations, but as soon as possible your new members need to be involved in important decisions and events.

2)      Open the door

This piggy-backs off of #1. Present your newest members with opportunities to demonstrate their skills and abilities. Take time and effort to find the right committee or chairmanship to unleash their full potential

3)      Avoid the language of hierarchy

Just because they are your newest members doesn’t mean you can treat them like lesser people. Retention rates trend upwards when not just actions, but language used, demonstrates acceptance and camaraderie

4)      Meet, and beat, your expectations

Ever hear the phrase “lead by example”? If you want your newest members to have pride in your chapter and strengthen your fraternity, your current actives better act that way as well. Current members set the tone from the start. Which leads to…

5)      Positive Peer Pressure

So what if it’s 10am on a Saturday and the last thing you want to do is community service or run in your philanthropy’s 5K? Peer Pressure works. Positive Peer Pressure works even better. If everyone is encouraging and everyone goes to your service programs with enthusiasm, so will your new guys. You can only say, “hey, the entire chapter is doing it” if it is true.

6)      Utilize a strong Big Brother program

Typically, the Big Brother is the main reason a person joined a chapter. The Big Brother doesn’t stop being a Big once someone gets initiated. Keep those bonds strong among chapter families and use Big Brothers as a way to increase your brotherhood. During new member education, the Big Brother needs to be supportive throughout.

7)      RECRUIT!

I have always maintained that every problem is a  fraternityrecruitment problem. If you can’t find potential new members that have the character and drive to strengthen your chapter and leave a positive legacy, it is a recruitment problem. Smart, targeted, year round recruitment makes a difference.

8)      Cut out chapter cancers

It sounds harsh, but it’s called “dead weight” for a reason. Get rid of your slackers that drag everyone else down or minimize their roles in your chapter. Again, it may sound harsh, but it is important to keep the big picture in mind.

9)      Tap into campus competitions

Intramurals are probably the best example here. Win intramural championships and your members will have something to hang their hats on. Take that same competitive mentality to canned food drives, clothing drives, service hour competitions, etc and you will see that your members will be incredibly proud to show their letters off.

10)   Use your nationals

I hear often how consultants and alumni volunteers want to be more active on the chapter level. Use your nationals to tap into resources to help support your new members and your chapter. Often times new members have no clue how large a national fraternity can be. Sometimes seeing the broad scope of your fraternity can be just what your new members need.

This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.

This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and contributor for the If you are interested in writing for – let us know (CLICK HERE)!

2 thoughts on “10 Ways to Instill Pride in Fraternity Pledges

  1. Some solid points. I would take a little bit of issue with the language of hierarchy. Pat, I know you’ll identify with a couple parallels I’ll draw to the military.

    First, there is a rank structure in the military. You had a drill sergeant when you showed up to basic, you have a structure of NCOs and Officers above you once you get to your unit. Just because everyone isn’t instantly equal doesn’t mean they hate their superiors, feel like outsiders, have low morale, etc. If you are equal to everyone, then you have no mentor and this organization has no ability to teach you anything. You need structure, and that DOES include a hierarchy. Now, just as a total lack of hierarchy is horrible, so is taking it so far that you treat new guys like worthless trash. Take the time to really get to know them and increasingly show them mutual respect as they become more integrated. You bid the guy in the first place, clearly you don’t totally hate him.

    Second, when you first enter the military, your drill sergeant doesn’t tuck you in at night and sing you sweet lullabies. You are not treated as anything close to an equal. You are not even treated as a common soldier, because you aren’t one yet. BUT, as you get closer to the end you’ll get more freedoms and less structural constraints. Ultimately, you achieve something mentally more than physically. It is not about completing a set of training tasks to earn a graduating score so much as it is becoming something more than you were – something they have shaped according to their organizational values and mission. That is pretty much exactly what pledgeship is about. I’m not saying make it hard so they’ll feel like came through the crucible. I am saying it has to be a process to become something more than you were & not just because you’re hanging out with this group of guys. It has to reshape you to the ritual. I frankly would take lower retention to excel at that process, and then figure out how to improve retention without backsliding on the things that really matter.

    I do want to say that I see a lot of chapters miss the boat on what pledgeship is about. They often think it is about making these guys earn their way in the chapter by having to endure “pledgeship.” That’s not what pledgeship is, and I’m sure that does nothing to advance the purpose of your ritual. When you give big brothers (which should be not later than halfway through), you’re essentially saying these guys are right for your chapter and have proven all they need to. The rest of the process is basically finishing school. You should be rapidly treating them more like friends after that. If you’re not doing that, I’d bet you end up with pledge classes voting as a bloc in elections and cliques forming in your chapter (at least if it’s decent sized). You need to turn that around quick.

    Pretty much everything else seemed spot on.

  2. I love the recruit point. Either you are growing or dying, and people want to be a part of a winner. If you are winning, the new members will have pride in the fraternity.

    Also – I realize this is understood – but don’t haze. Hazing will kill camaraderie faster than you can imagine. Hard to have pride in your fraternity when you are being taught to hate the brothers.

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