Collector: Have you heard any stories about people doing weird or crazy things for initiation on The Row?
Informant: Mostly from the fraternities. Not as much from sororities. Well I’ve heard—Well, this is ridiculous!—- So I heard that they draw a house in their basement on the floor, and that’s where the pledges have to “live” for like a week. And they all have to sleep “in the house” but they just, like, lay on the ground together.
Collector: Oh my God! What?
Informant: Yeah then they’ll like turn off all the lights and put live chickens down there and throw eggs at them while they’re sleeping. And I don’t understand, but that’s somehow part of the initiation.
Collector: Why the chickens and the eggs?
Informant: I don’t really know! I don’t know if it means anything significant, or if it’s just to make them generally uncomfortable.
Collector: I heard someone talking in one of my classes about how they, like, blare music 24/7 in the frat houses during initiation?
Informant: Yeah! Or in one fraternity, they’re supposed to memorize all of the words of Super Troopers, the movie. So they have to watch it—like a pledge is always supposed to be watching it, at least one has to be watching it twenty-four hours a day.
Collector: Oh wow.
Informant: They can like rotate and take naps.
Collector: Do you know why Super Troopers?
Informant: I have no idea! That’s kind of the weird thing about fraternities. They’re not traditions that are really rooted in anything, like, significant. But it’s more about bringing people together. Like in going through weird processes you really get to know and bond with people.
Collector’s Notes: This is one of the many, many stories I’ve gotten from people involved in Greek life, but this is the only one about fraternities that I’ve collected. It seems like their initiation traditions are a little more physically intense than the sororities. This could be because they’re supposed to be proving how “manly” they are. They seem to test physical limits a lot with drinking games and workout challenges (other stories I’ve heard). I’ve also noticed that they very much like symbolism and the complete lack of symbolism. Making the pledges “play house” in the basement is like a mini version of the fraternity house and life within that. They make them stay up all the time and test their concentration and dexterity with memorization and music. I learned in high school that memorization is the easiest form of learning. I think that makes an interesting point here. Their testing their learning ability, but at a really basic level, which may mean that its more for bonding, like the Informant said. Practicing and staying up puts people in extreme situations, where they’re more likely to get close to others and create meaningful friendships.