Statement of Position Concerning Pledge Training and the Ritual

The following policy statement has been adopted as a part of the Governing Laws and therefore demands the same respect and attention of the Fraternity's Ritual, Constitutions, Statutes, and Executive Committee Regulations:

 

Statement of Position Concerning Pledge Training & the Ritual

The teachings of our Ritual—the basis of all our pledging and initiation, and active and alumni life—must govern our every act and attitude. Initiation into Sigma Chi is truly not only a ceremony by which new members are created, but is much more. Its meanings are subject to constant interpretation and achievement by those who have earned the honor by striving for it.

The Fraternity provides extensive material and guidance to chapters on this subject through The Ritual, Ritualistic Statutes, "The Norman Shield, "The Magister’s Manual, the programs of the Leadership Training Workshop, Jordan Initiative, many Province Workshops, just to mention a few, Additionally, resources are provided through the  efforts of the Grand Praetors, alumni volunteers and Headquarters Staff. Further guidance and assistance in those and other areas will continue, and is available to any chapter upon request.

 

The Basis of Concern

The reasons for concern by the Fraternity in this area cannot be dealt with simply under the heading of the term “hazing.” The term “hazing” is sometimes too narrowly defined by some seeking rationalizations. The goal is preparation for a productive life as a citizen, through Sigma Chi, not merely forced humility or “second class citizenship.” We believe, as the Sigma Chi Creed says, in fairness, decency, good manners, and being ever a credit to our Fraternity.

There is a definite need for increased knowledge and understanding of the seriousness of purpose of Sigma Chi, and the expectations and commitments made by all of us in experiencing our Ritual and the honor of becoming a member.

Your Fraternity leaders and Executive Committee realize and appreciate that the majority of our active chapters conduct responsible and inspiring pledge programs, I-Weeks, and Initiation ceremonies and have not been, are not, and will not become involved in anything which even remotely could be considered “hazing” or in violation of Sigma Chi law or programs. Nonetheless, there is a definite necessity for an increased vigilance, awareness, dedication and determination in this matter. There are chapters in Sigma Chi where our Ritual and its purposes and procedures are not adhered to the fullest, and where questionable, contradictory or wasteful activities are taking place during the Pledge Program, I-Week, or Initiation.

In confronting this problem, the following basics are pertinent:

  • Sigma Chi, both in stated goals and purposes, is a positive experience, designed to be contributory and beneficial throughout a man’s life.
  • Past, present and future, its purpose is to be uplifting, motivational, value-setting, and enjoyable in constructive ways.
  • Its heart is brotherhood, personal association and involvement, and an obligation of every brother to help each other to achieve. It is in the context of positive emphasis and guidance that the following guidelines will apply, and are to be used in determining and conducting any of our activities in the pledging, pre-Initiation and Initiation programs:

 

Pledge Program Guidelines

  • The goals set forth in The Jordan Standard require us, as a Fraternity, to ensure that we allow each student time for his academic responsibilities, a minimum of 6 hours uninterrupted sleep per night, and reasonable campus involvement. Our prospective members are in school for an education, a learning experience, both in and out of the classroom.
  • Whatever is performed or allowed to happen must be fully consistent with the ideals and the spirit of our Ritual, Ritualistic Statutes, and Governing Laws. The purpose of the program should be to treat the young men as future leaders of our order.
  • If an activity became known and/or publicized, could it really be explained or justified to, and understood or appreciated by, Fraternity officials, parents, university officials, or potential members? If not, it should not be done.
  • A man does not pledge to be in servitude to an individual brother. He is aspiring to be a member of the Chapter and the Fraternity.
  • If something is designed just to make a man “a good pledge,” rather than to make him a good brother, or just to see “how much he wants to become a member,” it is not appropriate.
  • Forced unity or “unity-at-any-cost” can, often unknowingly, result in resentment or exaggerated competition against the chapter, and conflict with the pledge class’ later integration into the chapter, creating a caste system. Unity, loyalty and devotion will occur from shared experiences and ideas.
  • If instilling humility is the only or major purpose of what is being done, it should not be done.
  • The fact that “we’ve always done it” does not, by itself, justify its continuance.
  • The greater the extent of physical or mental exhaustion, excessive nervousness or fear, total frustration, or desire to “get this over with,” the greater the likelihood that the pledge will not absorb, remember and understand the important lessons of our pledge program, the Initiation and Ritual.

 

Examples of Prohibited Activities

Actions and activities which are explicitly prohibited include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any calisthenics, including but not limited to; sit-ups, push-ups, “ ‘bows and toes,” and wall sits.
  • Running stairs while reciting material.
  • Group runs for the sake of creating “unity,” regardless if it is with active brothers or not.
  • Line-ups during which the pledges are placed in front of the chapter in an environment which could reasonably be considered intimidating in nature.
  • Link systems, or anything similar, used to intimidate the pledge toward improved performance.
  • Forced dorming or sleeping at a chapter-designated location, including the chapter house, separate from the pledge’s permanent residence.
  • Yelling and screaming or use of obscenities at pledges in any manner whatsoever.
  • Telling pledge he’s failed by snuffing out candles in front of him.
  • Brothers intentionally mess up the house or room after pledges clean it.
  • Pledges booed and hissed or demeaned when they make a mistake. Pledges being required to perform personal errands or acts of personal servitude for the convenience of brothers. Activities considered personal servitude include, but are not limited to; cleaning, errand running, driving brothers around.
  • Calling pledges “scums,” “poops,” “plebes,” or other degrading terms.
  • Wearing burlap bags or other embarrassing or uncomfortable garments.
  • Less than six hours of undisturbed time in bed each night at any point during their pledgeship or I-Week.
  • Deception designed to convince the pledge he won’t be initiated.
  • Forcing the pledges to eat any food that is designed to make them sick, burn their mouth, starve them, and/or embarrass them.
  • Excessively loud music played during I-Week and between portions of various ceremonies.
  • Paddle swats.
  • Pushing, shoving or tackling pledges during movement to various events.
  • Pledges dragged onto the floor when awakened.
  • Pledges write list of their faults or “sins,” believing they must read them to the chapter or brothers.
  • Bracing, forcing pledges to sit in a specific position for an extended period of time, and finger-snapping in pledges’ ears.
  • Any violation of Ritual instructions, procedures or Statutes.
  • Brothers using Ritual materials before Initiation.
  • Stripping a pledge down to their underwear or nothing at all.
  • Branding the pledges with cigarettes or other hot items
  • Forced consumption of alcohol or sharing of alcohol with active brothers as part of a big brother celebration.
  • “Fight Nights” where pledges have to fight one another or actives
  •  Any drug usage including forced drug usage
  • Involving pledges in any form of a designated driver program
  • Pledges forced to sleep in a location that is below the quality of their normal residential living environment
  • Intentionally black-balling a pledge to send a message to other pledges
  • Interviewing brothers for the main purpose of memorization of their information
  • Intentionally prohibiting pledges from being able to meet and interact with the members of the active chapter
  • Forcing pledges to buy uniforms
  • Requiring pledges to buy items for members of the chapter with their own money, such as; gas, cigarettes, condoms, etc
  • Any kidnapping activities as a part of a walkout program or revolt. This includes scavenger hunts.

These are a few practices which have been done in the past and there are thousands of others also equally unacceptable.

For any other activities that may not be included above, chapters and members should ask themselves these following questions to consider whether the activity is one that aligns with the spirit of this policy:

  • Would you object to this activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by a local TV news crew?
  • Would you feel comfortable participating in this activity if your parents, professors, or University officials were present?
  • Would you tell potential recruits or new pledges about the activity that they will go through?
  • Does participation in this activity violate my values or those of Sigma Chi?
  • Does the activity risk emotional or physical harm or abuse?
  • If someone were injured, would I feel comfortable being investigated by the police or an insurance carrier?

 

Conclusion

Sigma Chi’s specified programs for pledge training, I-Week and Initiation, absent of any hazing or questionable activities, have proved to be consistently effective in achieving the development of active, effective committed brothers. Only the brothers in the active chapters can carry out these programs, however.

All Sigma Chis have a responsibility to the Fraternity and its future, and to the rest of the Greek system, and to our families, to enhance and contribute to our reputation, and not even remotely create any situation which may damage it. Sigma Chi must depend on our undergraduate brothers and chapters to perpetuate our Grand Fraternity through Initiation. With this expression of concern and communication, our confidence is placed in you.

Originally issued in August 1977 by the Fraternity Executive Committee, chaired by then Grand Consul James F. Bash.

Amended and re-issued in March 2015 by the Fraternity Executive Committee, chaired by then Grand Consul Michael A. Greenberg.

Further amended and re-issued in June 2016 by the Fraternity Executive Committee, chaired by then Grand Consul Michael A. Ursillo.

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