Phi Sigma Kappa abolishes pledging
By Brian Rosenberg
In an effort to eliminate hazing, the Grand Council of Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity voted recently to abolish its pledge program. Under this plan, new brothers are initiated five days after accepting a bid from a chapter of PSK. These brothers are then given the same rights and privileges as any other member.
Tom Recker, executive vice president of PSK national, said there were 10 reported incidents of hazing last year. "They varied in severity, but all of them were wrong," he said. "Our concern was both to eliminate hazing and to enhance the undergraduate experience."
The MIT chapter of PSK is using a modified version of the Grand Chapter's "brotherhood program," which is a standard program for inducting new members into the fraternity.
During rush, freshmen and transfer students are given offers to live in PSK's house until they are formally given bids later in the year. Five days after accepting the bids, they are initiated as brothers.
The new members have full voting rights and privileges even before they are initiated. Also, they must attend a series of 25 lectures on such topics as scholarship, career planning, and alcohol and substance abuse.
Although the MIT chapter's rush policy differs from the norm, the national chapter has approved of the local's program. Recker, who said he was "familiar" with the short rush at MIT, commented, "If the members [of a PSK chapter] need some time beyond the formal rush period to get to know the new members, we allow for that. If they're going to take the whole semester, that's not in the spirit of what we're doing."
to new program
PSK President Peter F. Stewart '91 said, "I think the attitude in the house [toward the program] is mixed. No one's extremely opposed to it that I know of, but there are people who would rather not have changed things. Others don't really mind."
Cliff B. Schmidt '93, who joined PSK under the old policy, commented, "The change was in the interest of national as a whole. I don't think it's unfair to me. No one's attitude toward the new members is any different than it was last year. Nothing has really changed here, except that the new members don't wear pledge pins."
Edward L. Harris '93, a transfer student from West Virginia University and a new member at PSK, said, "I found out about [the program] from a brother before I went over [to] the house. It didn't really make much difference to me or affect my decision. I like the way things are going."
Jason R. Greenwald '94 also felt the new program did not make much of a difference at MIT. "I think it's sort of a technicality, and wasn't necessary here," he said.
PSK's new plan is similar to policies that have been enacted recently by other fraternities, including Zeta Beta Tau, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and Omega Psi Phi. ZBT is the only other MIT fraternity that has abolished pledging.
"Every fraternity wants to get rid of hazing," Recker said. "This was just our approach to the problem. . . . We'd been looking at this approach for the last three years, and our national president talked to more than 20 chapter presidents across the country."
David R. Shoemaker '91, president of the MIT chapter of ZBT, said, "Our brotherhood program has worked very well, and I'm glad to see other fraternities are creating similar programs."