Chapter Traditions & Rituals of Brotherhood and Pledging

“Rush” is the activity by which fraternities recruit new members to their brotherhood. It is the lifeblood of continuity, to insure it’s existance and to perpetuate it’s traditions. It is a very selective process. The emphasis is not only in the numbers of new members, but in the calbre of each candidate. The latter is most important.

During Rush week, male students from NC State visit fraternities they may consider joining. Each fraternity holds an open house (alcohol free) on Rush Weekend which serves two purposes. The Rushee gets acquanted with the fraternity and the Brothers of the fraternity assess each Rushee as a possible candidate for membership.

Rather than rely on “walk-ins” during open house, the fraternity uses other resources for propspective members. References are provided by the current Brothers, Alumni and others who may recommend a young man for consideration.

Much competition is involved among the fraternities as they vie for outstanding freshmen entering NC State. It should be mentioned that many students wait until after freshman first semester to pledge a fraternity.

At Sig Ep, the selection process is very stringent. We were not influenced by a rushee’s “credentials” so to speak. Our selections were based on the merits and qualifications of the man’s prospects of becoming a worthy Sig Ep.

Occasionally there were men with a high “profile” who rushed Sig Ep. One was the grandson of an alumnus who had contributed large sums to the chapter. Another was the son of a famous WW2 highly decorated 82nd Airborne Colonel. Neither was given a bid to pledge.

After completion of Rush, the brothers would meet and vote on the selected candidates to extend a bid to pledge Sig Ep. Obviously bids were not accepted by all candidates as some chose to pledge another fraternity.
The Sayonara Committee was a select group assignment during Rush. During every Rush, there were students who visited the fraternities with no intention of joining. Some were just curious, but many were only looking for a "freebie" party or refreshments. In some cases, there were strange ones who would linger and talk incessantly. We could not afford to waste our time with these visitors.

Hence, a member of the  Sayonare Committee would be alerted. His task was to rid this person from the house, and hopefully send a message that they were not welcome. One tactic was to escort the person to "show" him our BBQ pit in the rear of the house. The brother would disappear, hoping the person would get the message and leave.  The tactic worked best at night!
Pledging is the first step in the journey of becoming a worthy fraternity man. After the Rushee has assured the brotherhood and himself that he has made the right choice as to which fraternity he wants to join, and having been accepted by the Brotherhood of that fraternity, the man is “pledged”. Upon him is bestowed the honor of wearing the Sig Ep pledge pin, the importance of which he will soon learn.

The journey continues with the pledge training period. The pledge meets and becomes acquainted with the other members of his pledge class who will be his pledge brothers. The hardships, coupled with fun and enlightenment, will be intimately shared by these men as the road to Brotherhood unfolds.

The pledge is introduced to his Pledge Master who will be to him a friend, counselor and teacher. The Pledge Master’s staff (the Pledge Board) consists of two other brothers; the Quiz Master and the Point Tabulator. By the leadership of the Pledge Board, which presides over pledge meetings, the pledges are led into a program to determine whether or not each individual pledge has the characteristics and ability required to become a good fraternity man, and more particularly, a Sig Ep.

The Pledge Board has one of the most important tasks and one of the most trying. The Board administers a program of leadership and training that will insure the end results desired. The effectiveness of this task lies with the Pledge Master’s training and exposure to fraternity life and experiences. It is the responsibility of the Pledge Master and the Pledge Board to cultivate the potential shown in the more developed pledges and to bring to the surface the hidden potential in the less developed pledges.

After familiarization with one another, the pledge class elects the officers of their pledge class, consisting of a President, Vice President, and Secretary.

The Point Tabulator is responsible for seeing that pledge tasks are completed and point requirements are met. The Quiz Master, responsible for pledge class scholarship, also lectures on the History of the fraternity, locally and nationally. The Pledge Master presides over the weekly pledge meetings, coordinating their meetings and activities. He advises the pledges of any problems and informs them of their progress. The responsibility of a smooth operation rests mainly on his shoulders.

For guidance and support, each pledge is assigned a Big Brother. These men are usually the older active brothers. This Big Brother will be the pledge’s closest friend and counselor.

The pledge period involves a testing of will and compatibility. It is a “screening” process.....extremely important for perpetuating the chapter with Brothers who are not only qualified, but show the willingness to participate and contribute to the overall wellbeing of the chapter. The pledge is subjected to activities which are humbling, sometimes harsh, but never dangerous or life threatening. Experiencing hardships as a group, the pledge class forms a strong bond with one another. This is the most important objective, similar to a military bootcamp, but not nearly as harsh.

And finally....the final step in the journey is initiation. This is a preset goal, and through a period of hard work, perseverance and instilled love for the fraternity, this goal is realized in most instances.
Pledge Paddle
Pledge Paddle

The Pledge Paddle was a symbolic tradition.
Each pledge had to make one for himself.
It was a nice keepsake from your fraternity days.
Hell Week was like the final days of Boot Camp, where we separated the men from the boys.
Secret Ballot Box
Secret Ballot Box
Although The black ball system sounds harsh, it was merely a method used to vote on the progress and ultimate approval of a pledge becoming a Brother.

The ballot box consisted of a small bin with white and black marbles, and a concealed compartment for collecting the votes. A vote was cast by each Brother in secret. A white marble represented a YES vote; a black marble a NO vote. As the ballot box was passed to each Brother, he would select his choice and drop the marble into the concealed compartment. After all Brothers had voted, the chapter Recorder and President would open the compartment and view the results. The only marbles counted were the black ones.

During the course of pledge training, there were four votes on each individual pledge. To meet the approval of the Brotherhood to continue as a pledge, the first vote would allow a maximum of three black balls; the second, two black balls; the third, one black ball.

At the end of the pledge period, a final vote was cast. To be approved as a Brother and Initiation, the pledge could not receive a single black ball.

The only exception to Initiation was if the pledge was below a 2.00 grade point average. The pledge, referred to as a “Bull Pledge”, was held over until he achieved the 2.00 and was then initiated as a full Brother.