Sororities May Eliminate Pledge PeriodBy Alice N. Gilchrist
In response to impending changes in Kappa Alpha Theta's national policy, the MIT chapter of KAT will institute a four-week pledge period next fall, replacing the current semester-long pledge period, according to KAT President Gabrielle L. Rocap '92. In the past, pledges have been initiated during the second term after fulfilling the "scholarship requirement" of passing at least 36 units, Rocap said.
KAT is adopting the shorter pledge period because it will probably "make the pledges happier" since they can become sisters faster, Rocap said. Pledges will also begin attending meetings with the sisters, instead of attending separate meetings, so that they can get to know the sisters sooner.
KAT's national organization is gradually instituting the shorter pledge periods in all its chapters, Rocap said. In a few years all KAT sorority chapters will be required to have shorter pledge periods, but currently the national organization has asked for some chapters to adopt the shortened period voluntarily. The MIT chapter has agreed to do, Rocap said.
Alpha Chi Omega may also consider shortening or abolishing its pledge period, but AXO President Stefanie A. Spencer '93 said that at this point it is "totally unknown" whether or not this will happen. She said AXO's national organization is thinking of shortening or abolishing the pledge period, but that a decision will not be made until the AXO national convention this summer.
Officers of both Alpha Phi and Sigma Kappa say their sororities have no plans to shorten their pledge periods.
KAT responding to national trend
KAT is being "progressive" by trying "something different," said Neal H. Dorow, advisor to fraternities and independent living groups. KAT's national organization may be instituting the new program in response to a trend among national fraternities to shorten the length of their pledge periods, according to Dorow.
Dorow explained that some fraternities have shortened or eliminated their pledge periods to combat hazing, which has been a "problem" at the national level "for years and years." Dorow said that to different people, hazing can take on many meanings, ranging from simply distinguishing between pledges and brothers to the creation of life-threatening situations.
At sororities nationwide there are activities going on that would be "construed as hazing by anyone's definition ... because they are demeaning or embarrassing," Dorow said. MIT's sororities and fraternities "don't have the hazing that other schools experience," he added.
At MIT, Zeta Beta Tau and Phi Sigma Kappa have adopted shorter pledge programs. Tau Kappa Epsilon, which does not have a chapter at MIT, has also adopted this policy.
ZBT President Carlos E. Munoz '93 said that ZBT's national fraternity instituted an anti-hazing policy in all chapters in 1989. This policy initiates all pledges immediately, eliminating any hazing or pledge period.
Munoz said there are "pluses and minuses" to the new program. He said hazing can be "detrimental to work at MIT," but that it could serve as a way of bonding freshmen together. Munoz added that hazing was largely "irrelevant" anyway, since brothers get to know each other by living together.