Pledging a Fraternity

“Alpha Tau Omega, praise the gold and blue. We can pin the girlies like our daddies used to do”.

Why I continue to remember the opening line to my fraternity’s song baffles me. I has been 20 years since I pledged ATO at The University of Florida. I carry forward a few mental snapshots of my fraternity experience – one in particular came flooding back as I read Psalms 15 this morning:

1 God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?

Rushing (asking to be considered for membership), and then getting an invitation to become a pledge at ATO meant the world to me. It was “The” fraternity on campus. Although it was not my dad’s fraternity, enough of his friends were alumni and wrote rec letters on my behalf to the pledge master.

Rushing a fraternity meant attending a week of nightly parties (after studying of course) and interviews with the brothers, and even the little sisters (soroity girls who were dating the brothers of the fraternity) – it was socially grueling. Rush week culminated with a HUGE Saturday night party. It was the night where your world as a college freshman would either skyrocket or plummet. I can remember thinking, all I want is to get invited.

After about an hour of standing around nervously, wondering where, when, and how the news would come, I got a tap on the shoulder. “Hook, will you follow me?” He led me upstairs to one of the brothers rooms. The door opened and it was dark inside. The hallway light illuminated the room just enough for me to see a stool set up in the middle of the room. Following his instructions, I made my way into the room and took a seat on that stool. After about 2 minutes of unintelligible whipsers, someone in the room addressed me. For the next 5 minutes, this darkened counsel went into painful detail about how I screwed up my Rush at ATO, why I wouldn’t make a good brother there, and anything else they could heap on me. I was devastated. All I wanted was to be a part of this group. All I wanted was an invitation. I had tried so hard to get on the list. With my head hung low, I was excused with a “that will be all”.

As I stood and walked to the door, the lights were turned on, and I heard “hey Hook! Just joking, you made it! You are now a pledge of ATO!!!” What? But what about…but you said…what????? I would later find out that this sequence is standard protocol for all new pledges. In fact, it was the beginning of hazing (more on that maybe later).

I thought that all that I ever wanted was to be a member of ATO. But that ultimate decision was not up to me. In fact, the “deciders” put me through a year of hell before I became a member. The Bible makes it very clear as to how to get invited – how to insure a seat at the table. There is no hell week. There is no deception. There are only promises.

Thank you Lord for my seat at your table.

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One response to this post.

  1. Ah memories. It’s been nearly 18 years since I pledged my fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho. I have similar memories, although our rush was much more laid back (I rushed late spring, was extended a bid to pledge, and pledged in the fall), and our pledge quarter was 8 weeks long before being initiated…after having a minimum 2.0 GPA (I had a 2.5 that quarter).

    I know the feeling, however, and look forward to your further thoughts here.

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