Club Initiation Ritual

Main Piece

“[A club I joined this semester] has certain traditions and rituals that we have to undergo before we are onboarded slash, um, official members of the club – not on paper, but in the eyes of the members already. So…what they did is each new member or “newb” was blindfolded and led into a room where we were distracted and sc–I wouldn’t say they ‘scared’ us but they would like yell “BOO!” in our ears and scare us while we were blindfolded, but it never got too out of hand, it was never too scary, they were never too mean – just light, playful, pranks on us. And they would read–they read the constitution of their organization to us at hyper-speed while we were getting lightly hazed slash pranked and blindfolded by other members, and when they were done, we were taken back to our meeting room and we were each assigned — or they told us, in a big form of display, who our “Big” of the club was. We have “Bigs” and “Littles” — basically a new member is mentored by a past member, a member that has been reoccurring on the board — and they kind of take them under their wing to lead them throughout the club and the motions of the club, and we can come to our Bigs for advice, etc. And each of our Bigs ripped off our blindfolds and they would be standing right in front of us with their arms outstretched, ready to give us a hug. And we each had to go to different corners of the room with our Bigs and we were given 2-3 other members of the club as “delegates”, and we were all given champagne bottles. And each Little-Big pairs, along with their committee/chosen few delegates, had to chug the champagne bottle, and the first to finish got to pick karaoke for every other group.

I know that their tradition tends to wave and flow based on the constraints or number of new members that they get, but they always have traditions of light hazing, a grand Big-Little reveal, a reading of the constitution, and something where there’s a drinking competition.”


Informant’s Interpretation: Informant added context that this ritual happens at the beginning of the semester, and found it to be a fun tradition that unified the group. They also noted that it was hyped up to be a much more jokingly-frightening affair than it was in practice, and that partaking in it made them excited to be a part of a fun group. It also “broken down any of [their] nerves about being ‘new’ in the space.”

Personal Interpretation: While I believe hazing rituals sometimes take harmful forms on university campus, this one seems much more lighthearted and welcoming–particularly as recounted by informant, and with the knowledge that informant and peers were given context beforehand. Most importantly, the fact that it was something they were willing to share openly means no implication of absolute secrecy was present, which can often be a manipulative tactic for more intense hazing rituals. On a more analytical level, this reads as an initiation ritual–a way for new members to symbolically cross a boundary into being part of a group–and officially establish their ties to it. It also serves a purpose as a means of community bonding, and creates an experience only people part of the group have experience.


Informant is a 21 year old college student who was raised in North Carolina and attends school at USC. They are mixed race (Pacific Islander and white), and identify as queer and fem-presenting.