The Alpha Beta Gammas of pledging

Megan Angelo

It’s been going on for weeks now. Your roommate disappears for hours at a time, and when you ask where she’s been, she answers you in Greek.

Between the uncertainty of Greek Life rush and the satisfaction of full membership in a fraternity or sorority lies the pledge period, a series of weeks in which underclassmen become acclimated to the organization they have chosen to join.

Freshman Augie Wilkinson has devoted a great deal of time this semester to pledging Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a long-standing Villanova fraternity with a current membership of 48 brothers. Augie accepted a bid from SAE that came in the second week of the January rush period to become one of the 16 members of the X pledge class.”I wanted to have a good group of guys to always rely on,” Augie explains. He says he chose SAE (whose members pride themselves on being “true gentlemen,” according to their website) because he had heard good things about it from upperclassmen as well as some of his friends from home, who had also pledged SAE.

Freshman Katie Hoffman became a Delta Gamma pledge this year at the end of the January rush period. Delta Gamma boasts a pledge class of 40 and a dedication to “personal integrity, personal responsibility and intellectual honesty,” according to the sorority’s national website.

Katie joined a sorority because she wanted to expand her social horizons and become more involved on campus. Delta Gamma appealed to her because of their high level of activity on campus. “After meeting all the girls in the sorority, I felt the best connection with them,” she explained.

The pledge period is filled with Greek Life staples like group dinners and cocktails, but specific details of some of the events that pledges participate in throughout the week are off-limits to outsiders. Augie will only say that he spends much of his time with the pledges doing “group tasks that help us bond and make us get to know each other.”

Katie is a bit freer when discussing her routine. As a Delta Gamma pledge, she was required to attend pledge meetings on Sunday nights and study hours and Spit dinners on Tuesdays. The pledges also spent hours doing community service.

Relationships between the pledges and the brothers of the fraternity are first forged by the Bigs and Littles system. Each pledge has a big brother, who Augie describes as “the guy you can go to for anything. He is always there for you.”

Simply learning the identity of her Big was a week-long game for Katie, who received secret presents and clues throughout the days leading up to her first meeting with her big sister.As far as forming friendships with all of the other brothers, Augie says that the process is all about respect. “We have to realize that they are in the fraternity,” he says, “and that we are not.” The pledges do not officially become part of SAE until initiation, which occurs when the brothers decide that they know and trust the pledges enough to bring them into the fraternity. There is no set time limit for a pledge period, according to Augie.

Katie, who has recently been initiated into Delta Gamma, says that the DG sisters have been friendly from the start. “They’re extremely enthusiastic about getting to know us better,” she says. “The seniors in Delta Gamma are huge role models for my pledge class because they are still very active in DG.”

When it comes to representation, SAE and DG take very different approaches. “We have to earn our letters,” says Augie, who is permitted to wear a cap with SAE embroidered on it, but cannot have the letters anywhere else on him. On the other hand, Katie, during her pledge period, was required to sport Delta Gamma letters on Tuesdays — and as often as she chose.

Both Augie and Katie are happy with thir choice to go Greek. They echo each other in saying that the pledge period is worth it — they both have found “friends for life.”