It is quite common for many sects and societies to have an initiation process in order to finalize membership for newly accepted individuals. Even though the initiation process for college fraternities is often associated with hazing and other inappropriate behavior, for some fraternities the initiation process is far from juvenile. Certain fraternity initiation processes are designed to inspire new members, reaffirm their commitment to the fraternity and clarify fundamental fraternal codes.
Most fraternity initiation processes are kept secret. This is an important element to the process and fraternity at large because it creates a dominant sense of exclusivity among its members. The objective for fraternities that take the initiation process seriously is to execute the process in a way that will bring brothers closer together socially, spiritually and professionally. If the general public knows the intimate details about the initiation process, a degree of exclusivity is lost.
Even though each fraternity initiation process is comprised of different rituals, teachings and philosophies, at the heart of most initiations is trust. In order for new members to truly commit themselves to the fraternity and its fundamental principles, they must be able to trust their fellow brothers with the utmost sincerity. The initiation process will often focus on the issue of trust, and whether it is through trust falls, questioning or other methods, the initiation process will clarify to the new members how important trust is.
A fundamental element to almost all college fraternities is respect for older, wiser brothers. An objective of a quality fraternity is to help guide young college boys to become respectable, well-informed men. Stories, secrets and history lessons during the initiation process will broaden a new member’s understanding of why he should treat his elder brothers with respect.
Even though there is a strong emphasis that the members of a particular chapter should bond, most fraternities have many chapters all over the country. During the initiation process, the new members will be reminded that they are part of a large, collective fraternity that has many chapters, members and officers. Fraternity members are proud to be part of an organization that has hundreds or even thousands of members, and new members will have this ideology reaffirmed during the initiation process.
Jake Shore is an award-winning Brooklyn-based playwright, published short story writer and professor at Wagner College. His short fiction has appeared in many publications including Litro Magazine, one of London's leading literary magazines. Shore earned his MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.