October is finally upon us, and a change is taking place. The air is chillier, the leaves are brighter, and, across the nation, the final Pledge Rosters are trickling in to the Chi Psi Central Office. At long last, it is pledge education season.
Pledge Education just barely eclipses summer as my favorite time of the year. All across Chi Psi, distinguished young men get to learn about our shared values, our history, and what makes Chi Psi truly different. It is a formative time for our future brothers, and is not a matter to be taken causally. It is the habit of many of our Alphas to sit back, take a breath, and relax after a hectic recruitment process. I feel, however, that Pledge Education is, if not the most important thing we do, at the very least the most undervalued aspect of the Chi Psi experience. If a mistake is made during the recruitment process, a young man may never join Chi Psi, a misfortune to say the least. However, a negative Pledge Education experience can result in a young man joining our bonds with a mistaken concept of what it is to be a Chi Psi, and how best to aid his Alpha, and in my opinion, a lost recruit is of little consequence compared to a detrimental Brother. Here are a few things to remember to make sure your Pledge Class gets the most out of the experience
Don’t Let Up
The young men that have decided to join Chi Psi are at a critical time in their lives and in their Chi Psi experience. For both freshmen and sophomores, the first round of midterms can be a gut check that can rattle the nerves of even the bravest of students. In addition, it is completely natural to have a second thought or two about the decision you have just made to join any institution. It is critical that we not let these men down. While many Actives would prefer to sit back and hang out with old friends and Brothers, it is crucial that you continue to reach out and make sure your new members feel welcome and engaged, and that they have good experiences with the organization. Failure to do so hurts both the Pledge Class and the Alpha.
Make Meetings Fun
Pledge Education can be daunting. New members are not sure yet what is expected of them and how best they can integrate into the Brotherhood. Having engaging and relaxed Pledge Education meetings can be an important part of this process. When I was a Pledge Educator, I always started meetings by asking, “So what did you find interesting about the material we read? What stuck out to you?” This simple question allowed the young men to engage the material and have the discussions they were most interested in having. It allowed me to answer any confusion or questions in a fun manner and help make sure that the meetings were a discussion, not a lecture. I also discourage having any sort of “quiz” on the week’s material. Quizzes turn what should be an interesting and informative session into a pressure-packed event, and with a full course load, additional pressure is the last thing these young men need.
I encourage Alphas to have events built around the Pledge Class, be they mixing with other groups on campus, retreats, interaction with the Brotherhood, or the ever-popular Program for Self-Development. However, it is important to ask yourself, “Do these events add value to the Pledge Class and the Alpha as a whole? What is the purpose of this event?” If you don’t feel that your event adds anything to the process, change it. No one loves tradition more than me, but I feel the most important tradition in Chi Psi is that of aiding in the development of fine young men into gentlemen. If you feel a tradition is holding your Alpha back, try to see which aspects of the tradition are positive, and which might be negative. Try to modify the event if you can to keep the good and ditch the bad. In the end, however, be sure you are willing to do what is necessary to ensure your Pledge Education process is beneficial to all involved.
Sing a Little
This summer, at the Annual Convention Banquet, I was charged with organizing a serenade to Linda Preble, wife of former #7 Bob Preble Jr, X’44. I was sad to see that not many of our Alphas still learn the Chi Psi songs. The songs of Chi Psi are a shared tradition that I personally love, and having an Alpha that knows a few songs start to finish is a valuable asset. “Maid of Chi Psi,” the tune chosen for the serenade, is sure to be a huge hit with any group of young women your Alpha chooses to mix with on campus. “Chi Psis Ever” is a perfect close to any formal event or banquet your Alpha may host. Also, adding a local song or two can help in growing your Alpha’s individual culture. This piece of advice is more personal, but I strongly encourage making Chi Psi songs part of your Pledge Education curriculum (and call me crazy, but I think singing is down right fun).
As per my with Brother Bessey, and as a result of my Packers putting in a poor performance Week 1, I will be ending this blog post the same way I will all future posts this semester: Go 49ers. (I just threw up in my mouth)