Seeing both sides: Pledgeship


By Katie Kenerly

Another Shake Day has come and gone, which can only mean one thing: pledgeship has officially begun. Anyone involved in Greek Life at Sewanee (or anyone with eyes) is familiar with the embarrassment that the actives heap on their pledges. Princess Leia buns, tennis shoes with every outfit, and revolting facial hair for the boys are just a few humiliating rites of passage that we unlucky freshmen must endure to gain acceptance into our Greek organizations. However, once the initial embarrassment and possibly shame has subsided, there is something slightly comforting about looking across the Quad and exchanging a knowing look with a fellow pledge sporting the Leia buns.

As someone currently going through pledgeship, I could gripe about the negatives all day. However, the arguement remains: pledgeship is not at all an entirely negative experience. Laughing with your pledge class in McClurg about how ridiculous you all look creates a sense of unity and bondage witihin the group–whether you notice it or not. Pledgeship gives you the chance to meet new people and become close with those you might not have otherwise been able to. All of the embarrassment ultimately serves a purpose: it brings people together.

Pledge missions, while often tedious and perhaps even absurd, give pledges the opportunity to engage with their actives. I personally did not mind being asked to perform “No Scrubs” by TLC for a few girls after the Superbowl. In fact, it would be safe to say that I embraced this odd pledge mission, and hopefully now they know me as the pledge who, for whatever reason, knows far too many TLC songs. Any interaction with your pledge class or your actives is an opportunity to build relationships that will last a lifetime and should be treated as such.

Yes, there are definitely negative aspects to pledgeship. However, dwelling on the negatives will not make for a memorable experience and will prohibit you from creating meaningful relationships with your pledge class and the other members of your organization. So do the best TLC performance you can muster, rock the tennis shoes, and most importantly have fun because I am sure that it will pay off in the end.


Pledgeship for Greek organizations is in full swing here at The University of the South, and with 80%
of the freshmen class going Greek, pledges can be spotted on every corner of campus. While boys wear
coats and ties and must attend to every want and need of the active members, girls wear fanny packs and are forced often to humiliate themselves publicly.
These pledge missions and hazing tactics may be entertaining for members of our community inside and out of these organizations, but it is not just fun and games. As I see it, there are three main missions of hazing: first, to create unity and brotherhood or sisterhood throughout the organization; second, to degrade new members and demonstrate superiority over them; and third, to eradicate individuality and create a standard for all members. It is the latter two negatives of hazing that will be the focus of this article. The main purpose of the degradation seems to be to preserve a hierarchy within the organization. Pledges cannot be seen by others or feel like they are equal to active members. Therefore, girls are made to wear styles that are thought to be unattractive to men and are forced to publicly debase themselves on very intimate levels, including stunts that involve girls’ previous romantic partners. Not only is this embarrassing and upsetting for the individual, but it continues a tradition of androcentrism and a male standard dictating the actions of women. While men seem very clean cut in public, it is