Respecting Our Newest Members

Reference to the desire to treat the Fraternity’s newest members with respect and dignity goes back to Alpha Chi Omega’s early years.

The first edition of a handbook for pledge, for example, was published and distributed in 1924 and was compiled by Mary Emma Griffith Marshall, Secretary-Editor.

For many years the general content of the book remained consistent, including information, as would be expected,

on the Fraternity’s founding, organization, altruistic work, and the National Panhellenic Congress.

As stated in 1935, “Each pledge is given a copy as soon as she affiliates with the fraternity, and she is expected to assimilate the information therein contained.”

In 1930, when Council member Boyles moved that the Council recommend to the convention body that any chapter indulging,

as she stated it, in so-called “hell week” or humiliation of members shall be placed on probation by the Council. The motion was seconded and approved.

 Also in 1930, the national pledge chairmanship was established and concerted thought was given to the role of the pledge in a chapter.

Through the leadership of the chapter pledge chairman, the pledges were to be given “a panorama of fraternity

and Alpha Chi Omega life that they are a part of the fraternity at the outset; giving them a program which should make them invaluable members.”

The Council also recognized the inherent value of establishing positive relationships with the parents of the newest members

and determined to send parents information outlining the organization’s traditions and standards. In the January 1932 issue of The Lyre,

Betty McGuigan, Gamma Northwestern, rightly stated, “I believe we should not only rush the rushees but should continue to rush those who have become our pledges,”

explaining that too often chapters failed to continue to cultivate friendship as members settled into their “hurried days of student life,”

forgetting that it takes time for new members to feel a part of a national organization.

As she wisely said, “Can we thoughtlessly neglect a wearer of our diamond-shaped scarlet and olive green pin

and then selfishly expect her to develop a love of fraternity and interest in furthering its standing without the essential background which we alone can give?”

 As of the Fraternity’s fiftieth anniversary, a simple policy for all chapters to follow regarding new members stated:

 Chapters are reminded that the pledge period is for adjustment in scholarship and adaptation to the groups but is not a disciplinary period.

Avoid rules or customs that are unkind, undignified, or humiliating.

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