Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Collector: So tell me about frat initiation.

Informant: Well, it’s mandatory for every guy in the house. You have to welcome your new brothers. Normal initiations are like, everyone gets in a circle, you chant something. Every brother in the house has to accept you. If they don’t, they have to, like, speak at that time. Like, if there’s a reason.

Collector: It’s almost like a wedding.

Informant: Kind of. Like, it’s a ceremony, there’s chanting and stuff. And normally no one speaks because there’s four months before for them to tell you no and that you’re not gonna be in the frat. But, then again, that depends on the frat. Or if there’s that guy who’s like “Well he didn’t do this!” and everyone’s like, “Well is that good enough reason? He’s witnessing our initiation. Could you have brought this up earlier?” Yeah, ‘cuz initiation is secret in fraternities. I mean, that’s the whole point of them. Sororities are the same way. Normally brothers talk about it after college. Some even keep them secret throughout their life and only talk about it to other frat guys.

Collector: Oh wow.

Collector’s Notes: This is the second case of marriage-like ceremonies in Greek life at USC.  There seems to be a fascination with having the people involved make lifelong unity vows, like matrimony.  I especially liked the fact that this specific account included a sort of “speak now or forever hold your peace” part.  Then there is the chanting that makes another appearance.  This, as I’ve noticed in previous accounts, helps to create a sense of unity and brotherhood, because it’s something that everyone can easily learn and be a part of right away.  Another thing that’s important that the Informant said was the part about secrecy.  In class, we talked about the importance of knowing who’s in the community and who’s out of it, and establishing how that distinction is made.  For fraternities and sororities, I think it’s the secrecy involved.  They have a vast repertoire of chants, songs, handshakes, and sayings that no one outside of the group gets to see, hear or even know about.  That is really important to them, and is a large part of their identity.