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.



  1. Amazing Article, Miss's true, hazing is a big and controversial issue. My mother even said "They don't do it like I had to do it back in my day!" And many other of my "mothers" in my Jack and Jill chapter said the same. They also said it's just a way to "break you down" or "test your strength". AND, they also said "Don't submit to it, these days it DOES NOT determine membership."
    Good in-sight on the issue, ma'am! =] Very informative!

  2. I absolutely love this article as well. I can attest to that even when you do go through some sort of process, you may not even get the point! Some of my linesisters absolutely do not get the concept of sisterhood. How can you have elitism on a line where everyone went through the same thing? It's ridiculous. Sometimes I think the whole concept of sisterhood goes right out the window with the pressure of seeming "legitimate".

  3. This article is very good insight.
    It shouldn't matter if someone pledged or did not pledge, that's not the purpose of these organizations. They are called Fraternities and Sororities for a reason, it should all be about sisterhood and brotherhood and wanting help the community and raise up the people in it as well as the ones around it. These organizations were started as a means for Black people to come together and find a place of comfort and acceptance in days when Black people didn't have many rights. It's not about how get there, its about what you do to make your organization.

  4. This is a great article, but as a potential pledgee I would honestly would have to disagree with your point of view. My sole purpose of wanting to be apart of a Black greek letter organization is to be apart of something so divine and historic. & yes im fully aware of some unfortunate cases & I am genuinely saddened as any human being would be. As a young adult "common sense" is developed over time, I know my limits, If I cant run anymore I WONT. If I feel like whatever task is given to me is CRUEL & UNUSUAL I'll say "NO". These already memeber of the organizatons are our peers, no one is held at gun point or FORCED to do anything they dont want to or better yet cant. My parents taught me at a young age its okay to say no if your uncomfortable with something. Specific chapters should be held accountable for their specific actions, but honestly to take something away that has been done for decades is not right to me. The BASIC & I do say basic training and skills that are done is merely to bond with your line brothers/sisters, and to obtain discipline. Greek letter organizations is not for everybody and to let it be so easily attainable will slowly but surely kill the exclusivity of these great organizations that our ancestors worked so hard to build and maintain....This is merely my opinion & im using my right to exercise it, please dont take any offense.

  5. The dreaded "p"word when/if you get chosen to be a pledge then online then you actually cross(no offense just a fact) most people seem to forget why and what principles their respective organizations were founded on and are more so focused on "pledging" and "popularity" of being made hence why a majority of people seem to only pay dues once but will have para for every occasion...people who already belong to a bglo(speaking from experience) KNOWS how expensive that can be. Point is most people pledge so they'll get respect just because you can take wood, be sleep deprived, mentally and physically tormented does NOT make you good material for organizations.

  6. No offense taken at all I completely understand. I can only speak for myself & I am well aware of the reasons I want to join a BGLO. & I can honestly say "Respect & Popularity" was never a factor, If that was the case theres a variety of other organizations I could partake in & I wouldnt have to "pledge". Im not sure what BGLO you belong to, but Ive known I wanted to be apart of this organization for years before college solely based on the Brotherhood, Unity, Strength,rich history & community service. The cost and "sleep deprivation" are minor, in anything you join there are dues and requirements, It would be wrong not to give to an organization you belong to. & personally again I can only speak for myself & the person I am. I've looked into some people calling "ideoltry, Free-Masonry" (more serious issues) & ive ruled those personal opinions as "hazing". I know for alot of current members they say it was a calling & to follow your heart & being online is well worth it. I feel like alot of folks just are quick to condemn others who want to carry out the tradition, but instead of doing that why not encourage new current and prospective members that do have the intentions the founders intended & enlighten them.

    __Johnny Quest

  7. This article is a really good break down of the formula for disaster. As a member of a organization and chapter that has gotten caught up in the hype of hazing, I can only say that the choice is the pledges. No one made me stand there and do whatever it was that i did. It was choice. Everyone has an option to say NO. Once you recieve a letter of acceptance, all you SHOULD be doing is studying and getting you money together. Someone once told me "if your dumb enough to let someone haze you, then oh well you got hazed. If these people joining these organizations were children , yes i would have pitty on them, but they arent. They are 18-20 year olds letting 19-22 year olds tell them what to do. For what? Many say its not worth being kicked out of school ,etc. Its honestly not. My suggestiong would be t read BLACK GREEK 101.. i read this book 2 semesters before i decided to become a member of my organization .. so that i had alot of the facts of what could possibly be the ending results. The question is not whether or not to pledge, the question what can you bring to the organization regardless of what route you took to become a memeber .


  8. Very thought-provoking, Soror...we need more healthy discussions about this topic. I believe in the traditions of our ancestors, which promotes a "Rites of Passage" mentality. However, each MIP or pledging activity must have purpose and promote unity. Before I crossed, I heard horror stories about girls getting back at other young women over men and other foolishness. In addition, I have known people to be approached for sexual favors during intake. This is outrageous and TOTALLY against the principles of the founders of the DIVINE NINE. People often talk about being real versus paper. Anyone who will follow another person blindly in order to place Greek letters on their chest is A FOOL...and that's coming from a proud card-carrying, dues-paying member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Tradition or not, you must hold your own moral compass and maintain standards for yourself.

  9. I believe this is a great topic. It also needs to be talked about. I am a BGLO member and I went through most of the "pledge" process. I spent a very long time in the "process" to only not be able to finish due to some problems incurred during. I finished the MIP process only to see the other side of not finishing the "pledge process". It is definitely not the intended outcome the founders meant for it to be. If you are going to tout yourself as a "brotherhood/sisterhood" then why treat each other differently. It is crazy and childish. It is funny how people hold on to traditions but don't hold on to the tradition of being an active member (financial). The proudest and strongest military force had to change it's intake process to quell the "hazing" and to this day it is still the number one fighting force. The Marines went through this and has evolved. The process needs to grow and change so members are taught along with given some of the storied traditions in a process that firm but fair. How can you uplift your community if you can't uplift your brother/sister. Food for thought.

  10. I actually "pledged" my fraternity in the spring of 96. It was as close to the process of the old days minus being in the open...sometimes. I say sometimes because they did have the balls to have us dress alike and eat at the cafe together for all to see. It was an experience I will never forget, but I know that we were blessed. Blessed in the since that most of my big brothers were seniors or graduates, making them well into their 20's and some in their 40's even. The maturity level of these brothers ensured that our process was void of foolishness (for lack of a better term). No alcohol at sets, no drugs at sets, pledges were not allowed to drink etc. I believe that if my process was managed by 18,19 year olds, their would have been problems. I love the fact that I pledged, but I don't trust the underground process enough to allow my own sons to participate. I'm sorry. I've seen this process in the hands of immature brothers...and it can be ugly and scary sometimes. They need to either bring it back and monitor it with the graduate chapters or let it go.

    1. I still fail to see how bringing back the pledge process would solve the problems that plague the NPHC. I always wonder: if pledging above ground better monitored unnecessary, illegal activity, then why didn't it work the first time? Some people died even under the original pledge format, so why would this time be any different? Who is to say it won't happen again, and if it does, who becomes liable in the event of an untimely death or serious injury?

      I'm not convinced any tweaking of the pledging system would improve things. Why do I say this? Because there will be a bunch of renegade, rebellious members who will "push the envelope" just to see how far they can actually go without getting caught. They're going to ruin it for every organization. The truth of the matter is that many BLGO members have never followed rules. They can't even be trusted to follow the MIP rules and regulations, so why would anyone in his/her right mind think they will suddenly follow the rules if pledging is reinstated?

      The intake process isn't the problem; the problems lie in the individuals. Anything man-made is bound to become corrupted because too many individuals have placed their own agendas above the ideals and objectives of their organizations, and this plague will continue to transfer from one generation to the next.

  11. I pledge in 1981 and I agree with this article. Many broken bones and scares back in the day. Heck, I even had something broken over my head by a brother from a visiting chapter and even today; if see that brother I would kick his ass. How can you have love for someone who tortures you.

  12. I feel that the pledge process develops malice and hate in the "pledgee." How can you love someone who tortures you is a very valid question. Those Big Brothers/Sisters, that you've seen on campus exemplifying something positive turn out to be vindictive and evil. I'm sorry but getting beaten up and losing sleep in the name of "unity and friendship" is not my cup of tea. The people you go through the process with do not even truly care for you, because they are there to "earn their letters" as well. I feel that as long as you uphold the purpose of that organization and you're truly involved trying to make a difference in the community, why should it matter if you've been beaten down and degraded or gone through MIP only. This is how blacks keep other blacks down and belittled. BGLO's are seen as role models to those on the outside looking in...not organized bullies. And this needs to change, even today.

  13. I would really hope that Delta Sigma Theta and other BGLO's ban the sale and wearing of any garment that refers to being "Made" or "Skating" and the like. The organization forbids online purchase of paraphernalia so they can prevent vendors and Sorors for participating in degrading their sisters. As an alumnae Soror, it breaks my heart to think I'm not accepted by ALL of my sisters. Not because I care what they think. But because of how hard I work in my chapter, serving out our Founder's vision of service. Most of those posers ignoring their bond of sisterhood don't even go to alumnae meetings or pay dues. But they'll stroll and throw up their hands and oo-oop in a heartbeat. They don't even know enough about the new process to judge it. Now that's skating!

  14. this is great information it has just enabled me to continue the MIP process i was about to quit

  15. I never got a chance to pledge at my university, and I want to join an alumnae chapter. This was a great article. It helped me out a lot. THANK YOU!

  16. After reading these stories.I will make sure my daughter and her friends never take part in these organizations.For the last few days I have been sleep deprived learning about hazing,underground renegade and ghost.I am no member have no letters.I will pray that things change so nobody else sacrifices blood just to feel accepted.

  17. I will be pledging for Phi beta sigma and I get timid sometimes to take wood, but I'm still willing because I won't be alone, I'll have my LBs there.