Hazing – Earning Your Fraternity Letters

hazing earning fraternity letters

My question or rather advice needed is on the expulsion of hazing in the chapter. I know hazing existed when I joined my fraternity. However I wasn’t expecting what came next, not much hazing…

There was the occasional hey pledge go grab this from my car, or come clean my apartment for me. It was never anything too bad, which honestly was to my dismay. I thought I was going to be doing a lot of PT and lineups I wanted to feel that I earned my letters rather than have them given to me. My wish came true during initiation week or “hell week” it was filled with lack of sleep, PT, and weird stuff, not too weird though. Which honestly I enjoyed myself cause it made initiation that much sweeter when I finally got there.

So now the chapter advisor and some of the active members are trying to push away from the traditional hazing and I understand why. But, I can’t help but think that I earned what I received. I do believe that there is a happy medium to be reached, my chapter is the oldest fraternity on campus and we have such great stories and history to go along with that, I want to find a way to convey our rich chapter history along with the traditions or fraternal bonds, it was during my initiation week that I felt closest to my pledge brother, due to the absolute hell that we went through.

“Heat and pressure are the main elements that make a lump of coal into a diamond” 

I think the hazing is a good thing, (if well monitored, which it always is) and I think that more should come out of it than closeness with the pledge brothers but a closeness with brothers. Can you help convey the message of “hazing in moderation while ushering in traditions and bonding experiences as well?


Very thoughtful question on a very difficult subject.

It sounds like you have great pride in your fraternity. You don’t want just anyone to be admitted into your chapter. You want to make sure they understand why your fraternity is important. You want to make sure they earn their letters.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is how it should be.

The problem comes with how we get our pledges to earn their letters. Often, our brothers are more interested in screwing with the pledges instead of having them participate in constructive activities. This is where the minor hazing like cleaning up and running errands comes from.

Think about the goal of the pledge program. Hopefully, your goal is to turn these outsiders into good brothers.

You need to decide if that minor hazing fits in that goal. I would argue it doesn’t and the brothers who do it are lazy. Their laziness is cheating the fraternity and the pledge class.

But that isn’t to say I think earning their letters should be easy. I think just the opposite. I think you should challenge the pledges in a series of constructive activities that builds brotherhood and teaches them about the fraternity.

In my book, The Fraternity Leader, I lay out an extremely challenging pledge program where there is no hazing. I would bet it is much more difficult and stressful to accomplish than your current program. All the required tasks the new members must complete in my program will teach them a great deal about becoming a brother.  That’s the goal right?

One example in my program is having the pledge class host a rush event as a pledge night. Recruitment is the life-blood of a chapter. If you don’t teach your newest members (and the ones who will be closest in age to your recruitment pool) how to recruit you are foolish. This is great constructive and challenging way for them to learn about fraternity life and earn their letters at the same time.

Another example is having the new members complete a house project. The house is the center of the chapter. It is home to all brothers – not only those who live there. All brothers should take great pride in the house, and have a sense of ownership with it. There is no better way to teach this than by having the new members complete a house project. This is another great way to teach about fraternity life while having the pledges prove they deserve to wear your fraternity’s letters.

Another example is to have the pledge class host a party. Give them a budget (or better yet have them fundraise for it) and have them lead all phases of the event. Have them come up with a theme, invite guests (a great time to introduce them to sororities on campus), setup the house, prepare a risk management plan and organize cleanup after the event. There is no better way to learn than by doing, and this will teach them how the social program of your chapter works. This is critically important and a necessary experience to have before the pledges earn their letters.

I have more examples in The Fraternity Leader, but I think you can see the point. Challenge your new member class. Make it hard. Make them earn it. But do so by teaching them how to be brothers and how your organization works. Teach them the skills they will need to make your fraternity better in the future.

Don’t forget you have a very captive and eager group of guys who want to make their mark on the fraternity. You know as well as I do that enthusiasm doesn’t last forever. Don’t waste that by making them do stupid shit. Don’t kill their enthusiasm.  Don’t be lazy!

Teach them how to teach future pledges by having a constructive pledge program. If you do, they will take great pride in your fraternity. Your pledge program will become a recruitment tool because outsiders will realize that your brotherhood is about building guys up, not breaking them down. This will make your fraternity stronger and your brotherhood closer.

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.

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