Few traditions are greater in fraternity life than the institution of the fraternal family. Choosing a little brother/pledge son is definitely not as important to us as a sorority girl choosing her little is to her; after all, you won’t be spending most of your undergraduate career covering shit in glitter and monograms for your little brother, and you’ll always call them by their first or last name, not “Little!!!” When it comes to the selection process, the wrong little brother decision won’t ruin you life; however, a good little brother could very well end up being one of the men beside you on your wedding day (as a groomsmen, not your spouse (unless you’re into that sorta thing)).
Nothing will come close to the bond you have with your pledge brothers. The hours you’ve spent together with your ‘bows on bottle caps without any sleep while being verbally (and sometimes physically) shit on by the active chapter for an entire semester forges an unbreakable bond that no other simple friendship could ever rival. A little brother, however, is important to ensure that your legacy is carried on appropriately once you get your shit together and finally manage to graduate. After all, he’ll be the one splitting the fifth with you before the formal pregame, the one that you’ll get into shotgun shape with ahead of tailgate season, and, maybe most importantly, the one who you’ll teach to haze. A good big brother-little brother relationship is essential to not only continuing your legacy within your house, but to maintain or improve your chapter’s reputation on campus once you’re gone. Here are a few pieces of advice on how to avoid fucking this decision up.
1. Don’t take the kid that went to your high school.
There will always be that kid that you vouched for during rush because he was was “pretty cool in high school” and “a decent athlete.” Not that this kid doesn’t deserve to be in your house, but high school friendships come more out of convenience than compatibility. Your friends in high school were probably only your friends because you played the same sports, were from the same neighborhood, went to the same church, and/or your parents were close. There will probably be at least 15 kids in the pledge class that are a better fit to follow in your drunken footsteps. Take one of them as your little brother instead.
2. Stay away from the kid who you really liked during rush.
Rush is a great system for adding potential brothers to your chapter, as it gives you a very good idea of whether or not a rushee will fit into your chapter well. The impressions you get at rush aren’t always exactly what they seem, though. Deciding on a little brother is a lot more complex than deciding on a potential bid. At rush, the ability to drink, get girls, and carry on a conversation are enough to earn a bid, but when it comes down to it, everyone in your chapter will probably be able to do those things. Instead, look for someone who can not only do all of those things, but who brings something else to the table as well. The one kid that impressed you by shotgunning (and keeping down) that Four Loko might be pretty cool, but odds are your drunken first impression of a kid won’t last, even if his “Shoenice” nickname will.
3. Look for the kid you actually enjoy hanging out with sober.
One of, if not the most important things about choosing a little brother is picking someone you would actually choose to hang out with sober. If you’re saying, “What the fuck? I’m in a frat, I’m like… always trying to be fucked up,” you’re a huge tool, so lick my vinegary balls. Realistically, you’re gonna spend more than half of your time in college sober unless you’re a legitimate alcoholic, so if you can’t stand a kid unless you’re drunk enough to bang that hippo pounding curly fries by herself in the corner of the bar, he probably shouldn’t be your little brother. A lot of fraternities have some number of “interviews” or “signatures” for the pledges to get every week — look for the kid who you didn’t feel compelled to thoroughly embarrass to earn yours to be your little brother.
4. Don’t think about it or stress about it too much.
This is pretty hypocritical given the fact that I’ve just spent the last 19 and a half minutes of my life typing up a column on how to make sure you choose the right one, but really you’re not in a sorority and you’re not choosing your “Liiitttllleee!!!” so it’s not that big of a deal. As long as you don’t have the biggest piece of shit in your family, you’ll probably be just fine. In a fraternity, a good little brother can make your time significantly better, but a bad little brother won’t ruin your life (it might not really matter at all). So don’t spend weeks drawing up a pros and cons T-chart deciding who to pick; just fucking take one.
5. If a pledge says he wants you to be his “Big…”
Punch him in the fucking face and pick someone else. That kid is clearly a pussy. “Big” and “Little” should never be used to describe a fraternal relationship.
So next fall semester, keep these things in mind and, if you’re lucky, you and your little brother just might become friends. He’ll probably always resent you at least a little for hazing his balls off, but that’s all part of the process..
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