Here Comes the Pledge

Collector: So, you’ve been in a sorority since freshman year?

Informant: Yes.

Collector: Do you guys have any like, special initiation rituals or traditions?

Informant: We have, I guess, a formal initiation that happens a few weeks into the first semester in the sorority. They kind of try to scare you, but it’s not actually scary. Like they turn off all the lights and they blindfold you…

Collector: Oh my God!

Informant: Yeah. It’s weird, like I don’t know. Nothing really happens, they just like tell you the “secrets” of the sorority and the secret handshake and stuff like that. Like, all the symbols and what they mean. And then we, like, take an oath and then you’re “initiated.” Then there’s something called Inspo Week, before you get presented to your parents in your white “wedding” dress. That week it’s all sisterhood things, and everyone shares their secrets. Like we have something called Bear Pass where all the girls in your pledge class get locked in a room for, like, six or seven hours and you pass around a bear and you have to tell heart-to-heart stories. People like comfort you and everyone cries. That was cool.

Collector: Yeah that sounds like a good sisterhood bonding thing.

Collector’s Notes: Initiation ceremonies are really common in sororities and college groups in general.  Kids are at a time in their life when they’re no longer kids and experimenting with their identity.  One of the many affiliations that they can choose from is Greek Life.  Greek Life at USC has a reputation of being very strong.  I’ve even heard a rumor about our Greek Life and The Row being used as inspiration for the ABC Family show GREEK.  That being said, I think it’s really cool that the sorority of my Informant was really focused on creating closeness with the “sisters,” a term that implies familial relationship, which is one of the oldest and strongest.  Also, I found it interesting that they are supposed to wear a white “wedding” dress for their formal initiation.  It’s as if the girls are marrying themselves to the sorority, much like two people marry each other, or a priest becomes “married” to the church.  It’s a ceremony marking their transition from out of the community to within it.  They proved themselves “pure” enough and now that purity is being represented by white.  The white in this case does not mean actual purity, I believe.  I think it means purity from the ways of the Greek lifestyle. Like they are little sorority “virgins” so to speak, and they are becoming united with their chosen group of girls.