How Do We Improve a Stagnant Fraternity Pledge Program?

fraternity pledge process

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.


My fraternity has done the same thing year after year during our pledge period.  The brothers have stopped attending pledge nights because the entire pledge program is stagnant.  Can you give advice on some good events we can have that will get the brothers interested?


There are probably a whole host of reasons why brothers stopped coming to your events and participating. I think it can be boiled down to a couple pieces.

First, brothers often don’t feel like they have a role in the pledge process, which is false. Brothers should be active parts of the pledge process, showing pledges what is expected from brothers.

Second, the pledge program needs to be more than “a hike in the woods” or hearing alumni speak or watching a power point. Don’t get me wrong, those are sometimes important pieces of the program, but it can’t be a trust event or lecture/PowerPoint every night of the pledge period.

If it does, then it essentially becomes another part of school. Pledges are joining to become better men – that is the goal of all of our organizations, not to sit for another two hours listening to a lecture.

Your pledges want to feel like part of the organization- they wouldn’t be pledging otherwise, hence the reason for a successful pledge program.

A successful pledge program is active and engaging.  It’s also the best time to do brotherhood-bonding events, where brothers and pledges are engaged in activities together.

Events can range from a pledges-actives dinner, a trust event such as the “Web of Brotherhood”, a lesson in rush, to a joint community service event with a sorority. In reality, it doesn’t actually matter the type of event, provided that there is a level of bonding between pledges and actives (which is why movie nights are not generally a good idea). The chapter’s ultimate goal is to have pledges who will become quality brothers because of the example set for them by the current active membership.

The current membership, in regards to the pledge program, needs to know up front what is expected of them during the pledge period.  For example, they need to know how many events they should attend, who is going to get little brothers, who will be study partners, if there are sanctions for not attending events, and any other relevant information that they should know about the pledge process.

At the end of the day, revamping a pledge process can be done with chapter investment in the course of two semesters. But, realistically, as with most changes, it won’t be overnight.

Brothers will likely not adjust right away to a new pledge process, because it won’t feel “authentic” to them. This discussion with the actives has to take place at the beginning of the year if you’re serious. I’ve seen it done in a couple chapters, which have been completely turned around for the better.

Changing something like the pledge or rush process usually brings on other ideas for changing the fraternity status quo, so don’t be scared if new ideas start popping up within the next semester or two.

– This was written by Ben Ring, an alumni brother from Alpha Epsilon Pi and contributor for the If you are interested in writing for – let us know (CLICK HERE)!

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