Greek Life: Unlocking the Secrets to Greek Initiation

By Lwilliams

Article by Melissa Pope

Have you ever wondered why fraternities and sororities are so secretive about initiation? If so, then today is your lucky day! I am going to spill the beans. The cat’s out of the bag. The secret is out! Well, sort of…I can’t discuss exactly what goes on during Greek initiation, but I can give a little perspective to help settle some nerves that new members may have and educate those who are not a member of Greek life. Greek initiation actually takes place over the course of an entire week (we call this I-Week). Various events are organized so new members can get to know the older ones. My chapter schedules a sisterhood on three separate nights so that each older class can hang out with the new pledge class. These include movie nights, ice cream socials, anything to do with crafting…you know, girly stuff. Additionally, there are times during the week scheduled for new member meetings. The officer of New Member Education (an exec position) meets with the new pledge class to answer any questions they have and help them prepare for the days ahead. All of this leads up to the actual initiation ceremony. Greeks consider initiation ceremonies very special and sacred; so much so that what happens during the ceremony is kept secret from members who have not been initiated yet, as well as those unaffiliated with Greek life completely. In a nut shell, initiation is the time when new members can officially pledge their loyalty to a given Greek chapter, and overall national organization. It’s also when they learn about the history of the chapter, the meaning of the sorority or fraternity’s motto, specific symbols used to represent the organization, and finally the name of the organization itself. AXO-logoThe ceremony is led by the collegiate members who have already gone through the initiation process in previous years. In a sense, it’s like old members passing their torch down to the new by teaching them what it means to be a member of their sorority/fraternity. Initiation is a special moment for both initiated and new members. It’s not creepy like movies often depict (like in Pitch Perfect when the new a cappella girls were told to drink the blood of past sisters…turns out it was just really cheap red wine). The scariest thing for me was not knowing what was going to happen. I like surprises and all, but I also like to have some kind of idea of what to expect. The most amazing thing about initiation is that the ceremony is the same for every chapter of a given national Greek organization. For example, the ceremony I went through for my chapter of Alpha Chi Omega is the same ceremony that someone else might experience at another chapter of Alpha Chi in a completely different state. Same goes for fraternities, too. However, Alpha Chi’s initiation ceremony is different from, say, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s—even if they are located at the same university. This just goes to show that there truly is a shared bond and connection between members of the same Greek organization found all over the country. With this, I hope I was able to shed some light on what initiation is really like. If you recently joined a house and no one will tell you what happens during the ceremony, don’t worry! They just want to keep it a surprise.