“Have you ever used one of these things before you piece of shit?”
I scrutinized the gigantic industrial cleaning machine the assistant pledge master had wheeled out of the storage closet and placed before me. A steel grey colored construction of metal and plastic, its oversized chassis and rear attached scrubber fostered an image more akin to a miniaturized Zamboni than a vacuum cleaner. It looked incredibly complicated to use and I had never operated a piece of equipment more sophisticated than a riding mower, but I had zero intention of telling a member of the pledge education board about my lack of experience.
“Of course I have,” I lied. “Not exactly like this one, but something that was pretty close.”
My assistant pledge master stared down his nose at me, clearly aware of the bullshit with which I had just polluted the air, but unwilling to take the time to show me how the monstrosity sitting between us actually worked.
“Alright good. You’ll like working with Ms. Jameson pledge bitch, she sucks AND she squirts.”
With that, he left me alone. I walked around the dining room in awe of the amount of destruction the previous night’s party had caused. Not only was the floor covered in a black film of sludge from hundreds of shoes tracking dirt in from outside, but it was buried under a layer of confetti thick enough to make a Super Bowl celebration self-conscious. Cleaning the confetti off of the floor would be a monumental task by itself, but sanitizing the entirety of the dining room would take hours. Luckily, the brothers were kind enough to call the work party at five in the fucking morning, so I had plenty of time to complete my task. I plugged Ms. Jameson in, turned her on, and started on my chore.
Long ago, before the world turned against the Greek system and nationals found it necessary to stick its big ass nose into every chapter’s daily business, pledge-ship was built upon three pillars: fraternity customs, safe-ride and work parties. Each one of these pillars represented a great lesson or a great opportunity. Safe ride allowed for pledges to meet the brotherhood while providing a necessary service. Fraternity customs showed pledges the importance of history and legacy. Work parties taught.. well someone has to clean the god damn house after a blowout.
These three pillars governed for ages, but over the past few years, these venerable institutions have been pillaged by forces that wish to see a new leadership structure take over new member education. Safe-ride is all but dead, and fraternity customs have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves; no longer the array of case races and cross-state scavenger hunts that used to hallmark their reign. However, despite the carnage to the other two pledge-ship mainstays, work parties have largely remained untouched and unregulated, meaning they may be the last bastion of legitimate new member education left.
A good work party is a result of a variety of factors. First, it must begin well before anyone could possibly desire to wake-up. If the first of the sunlight is brightening the clouds in the eastern sky, then it is too fucking late to start the work party. Pledges should already be knee deep in shit by the time the unwashed hipster bastards that work at Starbucks open shop. They don’t need fucking coffee, they’re pledges.
Second, pledges should be viciously berated while they are attempting to clean the filth covering the hallways and rooms of the house. They are shit eating rodent creatures and they need to be reminded of that fact constantly. It is of the utmost importance that no brother tell a pledge he is doing a good job cleaning, lest the pledges forget they are worthless trash bags full of mango pulp and develop a small iota of self-esteem. Remember, work parties are opportunities to teach discipline, and any positive re-enforcement undermines the educational aspect of pledge-ship.
Thirdly, work parties should always be called the day after a huge party as to maximize the amount of grime and garbage. How can a work party be a pledge class team building activity if only half the pledges are needed to sufficiently clean the house? The answer is that It fucking can’t. Timing is everything with a work party; it would be a disservice to the pledges if there wasn’t an adequate amount of putrid shit that needed to be washed to spotlessness. Nothing breeds brotherhood like getting down on all fours to clean the floor underneath the urinals in the bathroom.
Work parties are the last untouched relics of pledge programs lost to time. Their emphasis on good, old fashioned hierarchical labor provides a taste of the golden age of pledging, where pledges were lower than sun-baked dog shit and a brother’s word was law. At a time when the old fraternity ways are under constant fire, it is imperative that pledges of all chapters be permitted to continue learning the ways of labor. Because through the wisdom of the work party, true brotherhood can be born..