Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pledging/Hazing vs. MIP...Is there a difference???

Before the 1990's Pledging was synonymous with hazing.... This was not a secret and back then everyone knew who was "on-line." Pledging back then included dressing up alike, being with your line sister/brother at all times, and making sure you are are available to serve your Big Brothers and Big Sisters at all times. Spike Lee gave us a taste of pledging when he created "School Daze"... This movie showed how pledging "use to be" back in day before NPHC voted to change the pledge process.

People who pledged before the 90's went through a rigorous process in the open for all to see. The positive side of the pledging process back then included performing different community service with your line sisters, coming up with programs for the organization, creating ideas for different scholarships, etc. This process entailed learning national information such as founders, Greek alphabet, the oath, etc. Outside of the basic information the pledges were also expected to learn information about their chapter and it's members as well. This included learning everything about your line sister/brother as if they were your biological sibling ( This can include Date of Birth, their major in college, clothing Size, Where they live, where they were born, etc) Each chapter also required its prospective members to learn their own "special process" including songs, poems, dances. You were told never to travel alone and you always had to travel with at least some of your line sisters/brothers. If you were ever caught alone, you ran into the chance of getting kidnapped by another organization. They would then call your Big Sister and/or Brother and ask for something in return for their pledgee. (Pizza, money, etc..) The pledges were expected to greet not only their Big Sisters/Big Brothers, but ALL of the other Greeks on the yard each time they saw them.

The dark side of pledging/hazing include breaking pledgees down physically and mentally. The entire process of pledging back then was to break you down only to build you up right before you crossed those "burning sands." The pledges have what is known as "session, or set" all wee hours of the night, making up greetings for their Big Sisters/Brothers, and making sure they were all on "one accord with each other". Back then when you were pledging there was no such thing of "I", but "we." In some cases you were required to live together with your line sisters/brothers. The pledge process was an entire year, and in the 90s' was cut down to an entire semester.

Alpha pledges

Delta pledges carrying ducks

Omega pledges eating together

All of this sounds harmless I know, but somewhere down the line pledging/hazing became a serious issue. People started getting seriously hurt and in some cases killed. The National Organizations had to shed out thousands of dollars for lawsuits and it was giving pledging BGLOs a bad rep. Because of this, NPHC decided to ban the word "pledge" and deemed hazing as being illegal. Pledging turned into MIP which means Membership Intake Process.

Did this help??? No unfortunately this only brought the pledging process from above ground to underground. Pledging "underground" is going through the EXACT same process, but in secret. This is where the term "earning your letters" came from. Even though hazing was illegal, if you were in the Greek world, chances are you still knew who was "online, and getting hazed." On many college campuses, the Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO) is very small, and they all stick together by being silent about knowing who was online for what. There is/was also the respect factor. By that I mean, each BGLO wanted to gain the respected by other Greek Organizations, and the only time you could earn respect is by submitting yourself to get "made, haze, pledged, etc."

When hazing became illegal, only a few (very few) undergraduate chapters followed the guidelines, but most did not! Some of the members felt it wasn't right for a prospective member to go through a few weeks of "training" pay their money, and sign their name on the dotted line. This caused a lot of friction between members, especially those whose were "made" vs. those who were "not made." I have seen this first hand...I will never forget attending a coming out show, where half girls who crossed submitted themselves to hazing and the other half did not. Their Big Sisters decided to expose them by giving them bogus line names like Paper W8 (Paper weight), Shakespeare (Who is known a famous writer,,,,hence this person was a write-in), and Nvr Dare (Never There). This type of behavior sends out the WRONG message to the rest of the campus, and I felt it was absolutely unacceptable. It tells prospective members that if they want to join this particular organization, they will have to submit themselves to hazing in order to get respect from the campus. Not only did this cause a problem within the organization, but they were treated badly from other Greeks on campus, as well as nongreeks. Some Greeks feel that it's harmless by requiring the prospective members to "dress alike, require them to spend time together, learn chapter information, greetings, songs, etc, and not doing so deprives these pros. members from bonding with each other.

Don't give into the pressure of allowing yourself to get hazed. What's important is that you are now a member of a prestigious Black Greek Letter Organization. I had a heated conversation with an old friend who was livid that her undergrad chapter recently decided to abide by the rules and do away with their "special process." The reasoning behind it was the alumnae chapter was on their tails and they almost got "caught up" too many times before. Although she has been far removed from her chapter (she graduated 8 years ago) I had to explain to her that it's not worth continuing to pledge these girls if it was going to put the chapter and prospective members at risk. Getting "MADE" plays a serious part in my BLGO system. I have seen sorors/ other greeks quickly dismissed when they mention that they joined an alumnae chapter, (There is this notion that if you joined a BGLO through an alum chapter then you are paper, or skated your way in the organization). I have even heard of alumnae members go BACK to their undergrad chapter and ask to be made, so they get the "undergraduate experience." It's a shame, but unfortunately, Hazing/Pledging is celebrated in our community. There are facebook pages that exist such as "Paper Burns, but Sands Last forever," Pledge Park, and many others. These facebook pages are for BLGO members who became members by getting "made".

Pledging these days is VERY risky. If you simply do a google search for hazing, I am sure you will find tons and tons of articles surrounding hazing and BGLOs. It happens in ALL organizations. Personally, my views behind hazing is, if you are willing to ALLOW yourself to get hazed, then make sure you are well aware of the consequences that may follow. This includes getting caught and possibly BARRED from membership. While I can understand that everyone longs to have the special "bonding experience" with their line sisters/brothers, it's not worth risking or losing your life over it. An example that comes to mind for me is the two pledges that lost their lives trying to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha in 2002. (Kenitha Saafir and Kristin High), Donnie Wade II died while trying to join Phi Beta Sigma in 2009, Joseph T. Green, 25 died while trying to join Omega Psi Phi in 2001, and the list goes on....

So with ALL of that being said, Pledging/Hazing vs. MIP....Is there a difference??? YES! Joining a BGLO has it's challenges and have changed and continues to change. (shoot even I can attest to it changing since I've joined). When you go through MIP, you are not risking your letters, your chapter, and more importantly your LIFE! You can still bond with your line sisters without having someone "making you spend time with them." A very close friend of mine who just went through MIP told me that it was rewarding, she learned a lot about her line sisters, and she enjoyed her experience. They decided as a line to get together and spend time with one another without being forced by their big sisters. Case in point, don't get caught up through the whole "made vs, not made, skate, paper, process. If that is your main objective in joining a BGLO then perhaps, you need to rethink joining altogether.