Pledging A Sorority 101: What You Need to Know

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Bid Night is over. You know exactly which sorority you’ll be pledging and cannot wait to jump right into your new house and meet your soon-to-be sisters! Pledging is a very involved and sometimes overwhelming process, but by knowing exactly what you’ll be in for during the next few weeks, you’ll have a much easier time adjusting to your new Greek life. HC gives you the 411 on pledging so you’ll be prepared to take on this crazy process with grace and style!

Getting to Know Your Pledge Class

You and the other girls in your pledge class will be doing a lot together over the coming weeks while you learn the ropes of your sorority. At least once a week your pledge class will meet to learn the traditions, secrets, and rules of the sorority in a class setting. The sizes of pledge classes will vary depending on the sorority and the number of girls who rushed that semester, but regardless of whether you’re meeting 10 new girls or 100, you’ll do group activities to get to know all the other girls. “My pledge class was 72 girls so it took a lot of effort to get to know everyone,” explained Amanda Klohmann, an HC Contributing writer and 2011 University of Missouri graduate and sister of Delta Gamma. “At our school in the fall we have a huge Homecoming event. We spent almost two months putting in at least 8 hours a week prepping for Homecoming. Doing a huge project like that together really helped me get to know the girls.” Your pledge class will be your support system - you’ll all be going through the same experience together and bond with newfound sisterhood.

Getting to Know the Sorority

Pledge classes teach new members about the sorority’s mission, its traditions and values, and its current members. You’ll meet and get to know not just each other, but also the current members of the sorority. “The process was a little intimidating at first because you're overwhelmed with meeting and getting to know a huge number of women,” explains Shaina Dennis, a 2011 UMaine graduate and a member of Delta Nu Chapter - Alpha Phi and former HC UMaine Campus Correspondent. “We were given a copy of the sorority’s last composite, among other little gifts, to help us remember who was who. The older sisters were definitely understanding about how difficult it was at first and made us feel welcome.” While the main purpose of new member education is to learn about the sorority itself, it’s also vital to get to know your future sisters. Just remember that patience is key. “It just takes time,” explains Shaina. “I know that in my chapter you hear about all these amazing traditions and sisterhood things but until you go through initiation you don't truly understand and feel it, I'm sure it's like that in other sororities.”

Big/Little Relationship 

At some point in the pledging process, your “big,” or big sister, will be revealed, and it’s one of the most exciting pledge events! Some sororities have a “big/little week” when new members are given presents form their bigs each day (Check out HC’s article to get the scoop on Big/Little Week!). Others have a reveal ceremony where bigs and littles meet for the first time. “We went into a room and there was a funny costume with our name on it,” explained Jessica Schwartz, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta from the University of Texas at Austin and HC Contributing Writer. “We had to put on the costume and then go outside and find the older girl in the matching costume who was our big. Then they took us out for a fun night!” Your big is your go-to person when you have questions during pledging. She has gone through the pledging process you’re going through now, which is why she is there to support you and act as your personal guide to the organization.

Mixers/Parties

Probably most of the stories told (and retold) about Greek life deal with sorority and frat parties. Many sororities hold their own parties at their house, and as a sister, you’ll help prepare for these parties (in addition to attending them, of course!). Many parties have crazy themes such as rave, neon, highlighter, Woodstock, and angels and devils, to get people pumped and in the mood for a fun night. While raging parties are normal in Greek life, they are not the only kinds of parties sororities partake in. “Sometimes we’ll go out for a nice dinner,” says Stephanie Ricciardi, a senior at Syracuse University and member of Alpha Phi Omega. “My big and I go out together, or we’ll get a small group to go to a restaurant.” Remember, at the end of the day, you’re living with a big group of girls, so there will be no shortage of “sleepover” nights where you’ll curl up with your sisters and watch movies, bake cookies, give each other manis and pedis, and just talk about girl stuff!

Hazing

Hazing, or when a group makes new members engage in activities that make them uncomfortable as a condition of joining, is a negative about the pledging process that many people stress about. It’s no secret that hazing stories are disturbing—in fact, they may even make you reconsider  pledging—but it’s important to know that not all sororities haze. In fact, many colleges engage new members of sororities and fraternities in anti-hazing activities. “We had to take a hazing workshop,” explains Natalie Maneval, a senior from Syracuse University and member of Alpha Gamma Delta. “They wanted to pump us up about the good parts of pledging and remind us that hazing isn’t condoned by the sorority. Unfortunately, it is a big issue on our campus and on many campuses, so it has to be addressed.” If you ever feel uncomfortable doing something as a pledge, you need to voice your discomfort and make sure your sisters know how you’re feeling.

Now that you know what to expect from pledging, don your Bid Night t-shirt, and have fun getting to know your new sisters!

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About The Author

Valentina Palladino is a student of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, dual majoring in Magazine Journalism and English. While at school, Valentina is the Assistant Features Editor for What the Health, Syracuse University’s health and wellness magazine. This summer, she was busy as an online editorial intern for Fitsmi, an community which seeks to connect and aid teen girls struggling with weight issues, and as an editorial mentor for Teen Voices magazine. Valentina also works at Victoria's Secret as a sales associate. She feels lucky to have been able to travel extensively already in her life, and wants to study abroad as much as she can. In her free time, Valentina enjoys cooking, practicing yoga, drawing, and being with her family and friends... among many other things!

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