When the dust settles on the night of initiation and the neophytes are sporting a fresh pair of letters, it’s customary for the pledge master and a few older brothers to take the boys aside and give the rites of initiation some context. They explain traditions in better detail and offer some insight into some old traditions (i.e. what customs truly are long-standing, which ones are new, and which ones have been phased out). The meeting doesn’t last long, but it wraps up with the brothers asking the initiates for their thoughts on pledging. They ask what brought the class together, what may have hurt the class, and what they enjoyed the most. The Q&A often doesn’t last long, as the exhausted new brothers are eager to party as actives and finally get some sleep.
They should relish the chance to voice their concerns: The opportunity won’t present itself again for awhile.
By mid-January (or September) the JIs begin to overwhelm the group chats with their new-initiate thoughts. JI’s have the answer to everything, be it how to recruit, how to haze, how to plan a party, or how to improve as a fraternity. A semester sheltered from the politics of Greek life somehow turns a class of fledgling brothers into a group of little experts.
You’ll discover that, not only the do they have opinions on everything, their opinions are usually off-base or flat-out inane. Worse yet, they’ll argue these views into the ground, because the JIs like to scream the loudest.
Don’t get me wrong — new brothers’ eagerness to contribute is laudable. Sometimes, their new-found work ethic, with good direction, makes them good candidates for junior exec board (such as philanthropy chair, alumni relations or any other insignificant, bitch-work position). But the eagerness often draws more ire than praise. It’s the JI’s that threaten to quit on the regular. The pugnacious youngsters get into the most fights during parties. And they do not like to be silenced or talked down to.
Your first semester as a brother is a probationary. It’s a time to see how you handle your affairs outside of a controlled environment (i.e. without brother intervention). It’s about observing how the older guys run the show, settling into a minor role and beginning to contribute as an active brother. All this while quietly doing what you’re told.
It’s not a time to air your grievances. It’s a time to continue learning about what it means to be a brother.
So before you smear your newly-initiated feces all over the Facebook groups, email chains, and GroupMes; before you spout off during meetings or lineups, remember: what you’re about to say isn’t an original thought, likely has no substance, and will not be received well.
Before you step out of line as a new brother, remember: nobody cares about your JI opinions..