“tasting the brotherhood”

Context:TB, a member of a fraternity at USC provided me with this legend that has circulated amongst the men in his frat. We were having a discussion about traditions and rituals that are unique to his fraternity and that is how I obtained this legend. He told me that he had heard it from an active member who was a year older than him when he was pledging over a year ago and that the story still gets passed down to new pledges every semester.

Text:“In my frat we have educators, who are older active members in the house who keep the pledges, the new class of boys being initiated at the end of the semester, in order. There’s this rumor that a few years ago a pledge was promised an expedited initiation if he drank a concoction of urine that had been collected from a bunch of active brothers in the house. This act was referred to as “tasting the brotherhood” but the strange thing about it is nobody knows if it’s true because the person made to do it would be too embarrassed to admit their actions. The rumor probably was first made to freak out the pledges, but with years of the story being passed down its uncertain if it ever happened or still happens at all”

Analysis: One of the most stand out features of this legend is the ambiguity surrounding the truth of the rumor. The idea that someone may be too embarrassed to confirm or deny their participation ensures the story’s continued circulation without any clear verification. I believe this uncertainty is central to the fraternity and them being able to use this story as a scare tactic for the pledges to create a greater sense of unity upon initiation.