This is a heck of a lot of work, so don’t try this unless you’re really prepared to do it right, but it’s an amazing new member event if you can pull it off.
I’m sure you’ve seen something like this before. Pledges don’t know what’s going to happen, just to show up wearing the same thing on a given Saturday. They are loaded into a rented van (we did this in Spring when it’s a smaller class, and take away their phones) & driven to a drunk driving accident scene in the stadium parking lot (coordinate with school and get a towing company to drop a messed up car next to light pole). We tell them they were all drunk, everyone is dead but the driver (PCP), and they can’t talk at all the rest of the day.
They watch EMTs strapping down an active and loading him in an ambulance. Cop comes over and arrests the “driver.” (Coordinate with Fire Dept & city/UPD [whoever normally likes to write you noise violations]). They load back in the van and follow the police car over to the PD where the “driver” is booked in & told he’s being charged with intoxication manslaughter.
We get him out of the holding cell and drive them all back to a meeting room at the student center. They have lunch, legal pad, and pens in front of them on the tables. We tell them to eat in silence. Give them a little while. Then we tell them to write a half page to a page of what they’d like to say to their family, and that we’re going to play an educational video while they’re doing that. This is where stuff starts getting real.
First thing they see is a car driving up to one of their houses. Never fails that guy says something. About a month before, we’d call their parents and tell them what we were doing. We’d swear them to silence, and ask if they’d be willing to help out. You have to be very delicate about this, but it gets you amazing parent relations when you pull it off. Some you can’t easily get to and you ask them to write up a page or so of eulogy to their son. For some though, you’ll have actives from their hometown that are going to be home for a weekend. Have them call/stop by in advance, then video driving up to the house, informing the parents their son was killed in a DUI accident (don’t screw that up and talk to a parent that doesn’t know this isn’t real), and saying what they’d like to say to their son/eulogy. When all the video is over, call up the individuals for whom you have written statements and make them read them out loud to the group.
Then you give them an hour or so to finish writing their statements. They fold it up and put it in their pocket. You drive them to a funeral home (coordinate) where the whole chapter is dressed up waiting inside. Lead them in to the first few rows. Typical funeral intro kind of stuff from the Chaplain and President. If you can invite a senior University official, like the Dean of Students or VP of Student Affairs, this is a great place to have them talk instead of the Fraternity President. Feel free to invite several University officials, sorority officers, girlfriends, etc. You’d be surprised who is willing to show up when they know what you’re doing, just keep it quiet so the pledges don’t find out. Then you have the pledges come up one at a time and read their statement. I promise everyone will cry like a baby. Close up saying something about hope everyone learned something, prayer, and get some dinner.
Make sure to send out thank you notes &/or certificates of appreciation. If you want to have someone follow them around all day videoing the thing, it’ll make you a lot of points with your nationals & the school. Log all the work, drive time, etc as philanthropy hours. Pretty much everything should be free. I’m not kidding though, it’s not easy to put together. It is very emotional though.
I hope that helps. Other than that, I really don’t know the underlying meaning your fraternity is, so it’s hard for me to give you advice on how to play that up in how you’re training your pledges. Just get the creative juices flowing and I know you’ll come up with good stuff.
– This was written by Dennis Nall, an alumni brother from Alpha Tau Omega and contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!