‘Pledges’ are now ‘new members’

Delta Phi Epsilon sister Megan Shambaugh and Pi Lambda Phi brother Eric White share how their experience with pledging, though devoid of keg stands or chants, was one of their most unique experiences.

Sorority and fraternity members new to Greek life this academic year said 3 a.m. roll calls in any weather, separating sequins by color while repeating a sorority chant and chugging beers in dark basements are not representative of modern pledge life.

Greek life members said those students formerly referred to as “pledges,” meaning they have expressed interest in a fraternity and sorority and are going through the initiation process to become a brother or sister, are now called “new members.” This is part of an effort to dispel assumptions from outsiders that today’s Greek life allows hazing.

On Main Campus, students go from “new members” to “active members” once they’ve officially been accepted into the organization as a brother or sister. Some new active members from the 2013-14 school year said they can attest to the fact that initiation is not the hazing experience often associated with Greek life.

Eric White, a new member of Pi Lambda Phi, said his experience rushing and pledging has been positive so far.

“[All] those myths of kegs to the head or getting locked in basements all tied up definitely doesn’t define Pi Lam’s process,” said the freshman journalism and English double major.

A self-proclaimed “goofy and sarcastic guy” with a love for books such as “The Great Gatsby” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” White said he initially “didn’t see the whole hype” of joining a fraternity.

He said he enjoys playing music in his free time – he plays bass in a hip-hop band between tapings of his reggae show on WHIP, Temple’s student-run radio station. A health and fitness fanatic who lost 90 pounds in high school, most nights White said he can be found in the IBC doing straight-leg deadlifts, not keg stands.

“I think people get the wrong idea about fraternities,” White said. “[Members are] not all the stereotypical closet-full-of-Sperry’s-and-[Ralph Lauren]-polo [guys].”

After befriending Jesse Monoski, Pi Lamb’s president, White said he had a chance to become a brother, but he had yet to be convinced.

“I didn’t go to any rush events until interviews for bids because I was just skeptical,” White said. “It took my friend Tom almost demanding me to go to finally just try it. Honestly, I’m glad I did, though.”

White said he’s found that Pi Lamb is comprised of many races, ethnicities, religious affiliations, sexual orientations and personal goals. He said the fraternity is the “good kind of different.”

Pledging to a fraternity wasn’t easy, White said, calling it “the most fun you’ll never want to have again.” After that challenge, White said study hours boosted his grade point average and he expects that alumni connections will bring career opportunities.

“It’s really true when they say frats are for boys and fraternities are for men,” White said. “I always try to be a gentleman, whether it be to my friends, my family [or] a special young lady.”

Unlike White, freshman neuroscience and psychology double major Megan Shambaugh had no initial doubts about pledging to a Greek organization on Main Campus. She said she “fell in love with the sisters” of Delta Phi Epsilon on her first night of recruitment and remembered feeling that the sisterhood seemed more natural than other sororities, where she said it seemed “forced.”

Schoolwork and studiousness play a central role in Shambaugh’s life, she said, along with health and fitness – as her major suggests, Shambaugh said she’s interested in mental health. Delta Phi’s service venture this past semester was with the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Shambaugh celebrated ANAD Week in February with her now-sisters. She said she was moved by how passionate they were about the cause.

Shambaugh said she is also CrossFit enthusiast, so she was excited to support a fellow Delta Phi sister who recently ran the New York City Marathon. It is this “togetherness” and support that inspired her to pledge Delta Phi Epsilon last semester. Delta Phi has become her “home away from home,” she said. This includes the relationship with her “big,” or Delta Phi mentor Gianna Frascella. The first time she met Frascella is a memory Shambaugh said she cherishes.

“It was definitely special to me because Gianna Frascella became my big and she is truly one of the greatest people to ever exist, like ever,” Shambaugh said.

Both White and Sambaugh agreed that negative associations with pledge are now outdated.

Lora Strum can be reached at lora.strum@temple.edu

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