Day 40: “Pledges must pay their dues to become a member.”

The following is a guest post from Director of Financial Operations Justin Wenger.  Justin is a former Leadership Consultant and Director of Education for the General Fraternity staff.

This post is part of a series dedicated to providing answers to common excuses for hazing.  The #40Answers in 40 Days campaign aims to promote National Hazing Prevention Week (September 20 – 25, 2010) and to ultimately create the definitive collection of crowdsourced knowledge to eliminate hazing.

It’s always interesting to hear the words Greek members choose when discussing issues such as hazing, and this excuse is no different. On the surface, no one can argue with this statement, but scratch the superficial veneer off this comment and its weak attempt at hiding its real intent is shattered. If we take a moment to probe slightly deeper, though, it’s not too hard to begin seeing the illogic of this excuse.

“Pledges must pay their dues to become a member.” First, “pledge” is a verb, not a noun; it’s an action, not a person. Incorrect usages aside, take a moment to consider the underlying meaning of the statement. Yes, new or prospective members must fulfill their financial obligations to the organization, just like current, or active, members, but clearly that’s not the intent of this excuse – only someone who is trying to argue the semantics of the statement would say there isn’t a hidden meaning. Let’s challenge that hidden meaning.

What does a Candidate/new member owe you? What do they owe the chapter? Can’t think of anything besides the obvious – They need to learn the history; they should respect the actives (an item to be covered at a later date), etc.? Well, take a step back and consider the fact that it was the chapter that chose to bring the Candidate into the membership. Sure, the Candidate accepted a bid, and, yes, it is reasonable to expect that he grow to understand the ideals of the organization and how to incorporate those ideals into his daily life. Whose job is it, though, to teach him those things? From one man’s perspective, it’s not the Candidate’s job to learn these things – he doesn’t owe us this – it is our job to teach him.

Go back and read the Ritual. The only thing a Candidate owes us (Sigma Nu) is his acceptance of, and best effort to live by, our ideals. We’ve already identified him as a man of honor, so it is up to us to guide, mentor, and counsel him to further incorporate our ideals into his life. We owe him that. The only thing due to us is his continued commitment to being a man of Love, Honor, and Truth.

4 thoughts on “Day 40: “Pledges must pay their dues to become a member.”

  1. ZS 660 says:

    I don’t get this guest post. The intent, I assume, was to analyze and essentially take down the phrase “Pledges must pay their dues to become a member”. But after a grammatical analysis of the phrase it turned into what actives “owe” candidates as far as showing them how to live by the ideals of Love, Truth & Honor.

    I don’t see demanding a candidate fulfill his financial obligation as an excuse to not making him a full member. I see it as a requirement. HQ mandates that we pay our individual fees to become full members. Extending that to the local chapter level is no different than at the national level. If the local chapter does not collect the fee and pay HQ, the local chapter is assessed a late fee. There are no questions asked about Love, Truth & Honor in that process.

    A financial commitment is a serious part of the fraternity experience. It is just as serious as learning the history of the fraternity at the national and local levels. Without the full commitment of all members to both of these aspects of being a fraternity man, the chapter and its membership cannot reach its full potential.

  2. Kyle says:

    If a Candidate agrees to live by our ideals and is to be considered a man of honor, then he should in fact respect our history by learning it, respect our house by participating in chapter wide house clean ups, respect the active members who live our ideals and work hard to keep our chapters operating, and respect himself by not imbibing to immature levels.

  3. Guy M. Blasi says:

    From a 52 year old member of the Legion of Honor. This was a great article. I wholly agree. I have been running a facebook dialog from a couple of active members, one of them an in-coming Chapter Commander. The discussion was the hair cut that Tim Tebow and the rest of the Denver Broncos rookies received last week. They contend such haircuts would be “team-building” with this fall’s pledge class. They are justifying it as “harmless” and “good fun”. I contend it’s hazing. This is out there! I contend that the Bronco’s initiation haircuts would not work within Sigma Nu because the Bronco’s don’t have other jobs or on a college campus anymore. This is an article every active member should read.

    Guy M. Blasi
    Delta Rho 1045

  4. Olivia says:

    Financial aspects aside (since that is the obvious meaning to the phrase), the phrase “Pledges must pay their dues to become a member” really raises the question of what dues are we asking them to pay? As a sorority member, I’ve heard this phrase from other organizations (athletics to Greek Life) and am amazed by the things organizations ask of their new members or recruits.

    Recruitment is a “mutual selection process” and why should you ask your new members to do things that you, yourself wouldn’t want to do? Going through new member education is like taking an additional class because of all you have to learn about the organization both nationally and locally, historically and in the present. That alone is stressful, but making them give more than their required financial contribution and time to learn about the organization is an unequal distribution.

    We all pay dues in the organization equally. The new members are paying additional dues in essence by learning about the organization that we as members don’t have to pay because we have paid our time that way already. This leads to other excuses such as “We’ve always done it that way,” and “Everyone before us had to do it,” or “It’s tradition,” but that will come up later.

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