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It may be safely claimed that every fraternity in the land, without any exception, has set its face against the authorized attachments that have been put on the machinery of initiation by the chapters. A very large number of the fraternities, indeed, have definitely forbidden the so-called chapter initiation in one way or another. It may be said that if there be any of the Conference fraternities which have not done this directly, they have done so by implication, in that they have joined in the unanimous vote of the Conference condemning at least many of the features of the practice of adding unnecessary and harmful claptrap to the ceremonies of admitting new members.

The methods which have grown up in late years which require that freshmen shall undergo ridicule, humiliation and often hardship vary widely in different localities. In at least one institution, Indiana, the neophyte has been required to pass through a week of this humiliating and painful foolishness before the chapter would accord him what became his definite right immediately upon signing his pledge. In other places there has been but a day spent in this way. In most places the folly has been perpetrated publicly.

The thoughtlessness of immature youth has not yet permitted a sufficient number of undergraduate fraternity men to see the idiotic folly of the whole thing and to rise in protest against it. There have been times when we hoped that realization would come to the undergraduate fraternity man and lead him to himself clean house. But this hope has died; the fraternity man in college has begun to plead “tradition” as a working reason for the perpetuation of the absurdity and imbecility of the chapter initiation.

Tradition, forsooth! If the initiating fraternity man really desires to adhere to tradition, he will immediately throw aside all of this worthless and harmful rubbish and return to the ways of the fathers of the fraternities and so initiate his new brothers that they will feel that they are entering something serious, something noble in its purpose, something too stately to permit itself to be marred by bumpkinlike antics on the part of its members.

We verily believe that there would be just as much sense in a church requiring its candidates for membership to pass through a spurious preliminary admission ceremony, conceived on the spur of the moment by would-be humorists whose bump of humor is a depression. We believe that admission to a fraternity is only a degree less in importance than admission to the communion of a church. We believe that if ever the chapters themselves can be brought to realize and feel this that the very largest part of things which so irritate the public will vanish overnight.

These rough house initiations are, after all, nothing in the world but sheer imitation of the so-called high school “frat.” The fraternities themselves fulminate against the “frat”—but the college boy has never brought sense to the harmfulness of these organizations. He still imitates their ways and he seems to be not yet far enough from the “frat” days to realize that the fraternity he has entered is a vastly different thing.

We believe that the time has come for the fraternities to take the matter in hand sternly and forcibly. The time is here to cease pleading with the boys and to say to them “Thou shalt not.” It is time, too, that the fraternities should not only forbid the use of any sort of addition to the ritual or obligations imposed upon the neophyte but to vigorously enforce inhibition.

This article was published in 1924, yet some may argue that it is just as accurate as if it were written and published in 2015. Do you agree or disagree with what this article has to say? Share your thoughts in the Facebook comment box below.  

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