ghost pledge

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First off my fraternity only initiates a pledge after his grades are out and receives a 2.75 GPA and 2.5 cumulative, but our current fraternity president is keeping guys around off the books several semesters later and charging them dues but never fully initiating them or recognizing them nationally.

My president actually said the words “I do not really care about our ritual or national rules, if I want to keep guys around because I feel they have earned the brotherhood just by completing pledge ship and its not really hurting anyone then I will.”

I do not want to report him to nationals or our BOT because he only has 2 months before elections, but how do I stop this practice and what do I do with these non full members who just keep coming around the house and causing problems?


Thank you for seeking advice on how to address this problem. There is no easy way to go about finding a solution and there is also no easy way for me to give you a great answer. I’m going to do my best to take a look at your specific question, but this problem brings up some broader issues.

I really want to know a couple of things. How has this gone on for so long without a chapter advisor or a university advisor knowing? Does your chapter simply hide these people during recruitment and events? Do other Greek chapters not ask any questions or get curious?

In regards to your chapter president, I ask similar questions. How has no one stood up in a chapter meeting and said “no”? Why has no one informed your nationals or advisors yet if this guy only has two months left on his term? Part of the problem is that he believes he can do whatever he wants because it seems as if no one has shown him otherwise. There have got to be more leaders in your chapter than just the president. If not, there are larger issues. Do you really need their dues money? Does your fraternity have issues with retention and simply need bodies?

More directly, there are no good answers to your question because my initial response is to tell you to do exactly what you do not want to do. For me, you should have informed someone about this situation long ago. I’m sure your nationals have a hotline or a resource to notify them of these types of situations anonymously.

Your college or university greek office should have a similar option. Even though he will be done with his term soon, what’s to stop the next president from getting the same impression should you not take the appropriate measures? Things can only get worse if you do not do what ought to be done.

The bigger problem in the short term is what to do with the guys that are already there. We used to call these guys “ghost pledges”. Your rogue fraternity president has shown these guys that the rules do not apply to them. Now, you say they cause problems. Since they are not technically initiated, what’s to stop them from causing these issues? What has shown them there is accountability in your chapter?

Your active members refused to stand up to your president and now the “ghost pledges” have no reason to respect the values and standards of the fraternity since those same values and standards were bent (really shattered) in order to get them in. It will be difficult to just now apply the rules to these guys.

You can take a tough road and not formally initiate a single one of them once your president is done. You can be lenient and initiate them all just to move past it without issue. I suggest that you take the tough stance, but that isn’t for everyone. You could initiate those that meet your current grade and conduct criteria. This will help keep your membership and also take a small step towards reaffirming to your actives that change is coming. If your “ghost pledges” are a bunch of idiots, kick them out and take the short term hit with your actives. I assure you that they will thank you later once your fraternity rallies around your values and standards.

The real test will come the next fraternity recruitment season. With a fraternity that has bent the rules in the past and probably has a hush-hush reputation for it, you will have potential new members that think they have an easy in to a fraternity that doesn’t care. Whichever option you choose, this first recruitment has to be a success while holding firmly to your standards. This new phase of your chapter must start on a high note.

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

Joe Russo is a Brother in the Bond of Phi Delta Theta’s Ohio Mu chapter at Ashland University. While an undergraduate, Joe served in multiple chapter positions, including chapter president, and was a Phi Delta Theta Peer Mentor. He currently serves as a Chapter Advisor for Phi Delta Theta’s Ohio Kappa chapter at Bowling Green State University. Joe works for American Campus Communities, a student housing company, in Toledo, Ohio.

3 thoughts on “Rogue Fraternity President and Ghost Pledges

  1. At our chapter at a Big 10 Univ., the very popular president flunked out or dropped out spring semester.  Nobody liked the VP, so nobody said anything.  The president had lots of time to plan fun trips and adventures, and plenty followers who liked him.  Looking back, somebody should have stood up and reported him.

  2. This is a big big problem for many reasons.

    First, you said they’re being kept around for several semesters, so it sounds like this is a more systemic problem than just this one President.

    These guys are being defrauded. They won’t be alumni of your fraternity and can’t hold executive offices or participate in things like IFC. I can’t imagine how you deal with this on composites or tons of other situations. Even more seriously, they aren’t paying national dues & insurance, so if anything happens you are completely screwed.

    This seems like a very high GPA to initiate. Are you sure that’s the national requirement & not something local? Please double check. If they meet the national requirement, initiate them. I’m not as concerned if the school roster is perfectly accurate, but you have to play straight with your nationals and them go from there.

    Check your national rules. I know for ATO it says you can retain a guy for one semester after pledgeship to allow him to make grades, after that he is out and would have to repeat pledgeship if he wants to be a member.

    I would imagine also that you have collected initiation fees from these guys & spent it on something else. Expect a fat bill to make that right.

    If I got this situation as a BOT member, I’d do a membership review and expel members down to a solid base that does believe in the ritual. Everything else can be dealt with, but the ritual is what matters. You don’t have to love national headquarters, but you do have to love the fraternity beyond your chapter, and what the ritual means is the common tie that binds across those distances. Otherwise, you’re just in a silly social club, not a brotherhood.

  3. Joe – very good points. There are so many issues with having ghost pledges. Clever fraternity presidents think this is a great way to save money or get around fraternity rules. It ALWAYS backfires though. Also, it is essentially lying to your own brothers.

    I suggest this person bring it up to the guys that were illegally initiated. Let them force the issue.

    I agree with your point though – if everyone keeps their mouth shut as to what is happening, then everyone is part of the problem.

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