Attention high school senior girls and other potential sorority members: Pledging is out and equality is in at a growing number of Greek organizations on the Kansas University campus.
"It's hard to change tradition, but once you do, it's for the best," said Laura Culbertson, president of KU's Alpha Delta Pi sorority, 1600 Oxford Rd. This fall the sorority chapter implemented a reduced pledging period for its new members.
"The most important thing is making the house as unified as possible," Culbertson said.
The national office of Alpha Delta Pi says it has eliminated pledging from all its chapters, including the KU group.
The sorority says it now "pre-initiates" new members shortly after bids to join local chapters are extended in the fall, and it says new members now enjoy the same privileges and responsibilities as regular members.
IN ACTUALITY, the sorority has capitalized on a growing trend in the Greek system to eliminate the word "pledge" from its terminology because of hazing and other negative connotations associated with the word, members of the sorority's local chapter said.
Regardless of what it is called, the time period in which potential new members are fully initiated has been shortened.
"I think the whole sorority system is going to turn to this," Culberston said. "It is something that's been going on a long time."
The local Alpha Delta Pi chapter has shortened its pledging period from about five months to six weeks to eight weeks.
Under the old system, potential new members spent more time together than with fully initiated sorority members, Culbertson said.
She said the new system forces women to learn more about the sorority and its regular members in less time and is designed to help eliminate feelings of inferiority.
"THE MAIN point is not to separate them," said Patresa Doherty, new-member educator during the local chapter's first reduced pledging period last fall.
"We don't want them feeling like they are inferior, or that people are talking down to them because they aren't full members yet."
As part of the change, new members now are allowed to take part in chapter meetings, vote on chapter policies and partake in chapter social functions. Under the old system, such privileges were denied until full initiation.
At least one fraternity has established a similar reduced pledging period, and other sororities are considering such measures at KU, sorority members said.
JENNIFER Zucco, vice president of the KU Panhellenic Assn., said reducing pledging periods is "a positive change in the Greek system."
She said that a shortened pledging period does not cut short personal ties that develop among members of the pledge class.
"I think it's more beneficial because new members feel more equal," she said. "Equality is very important for having a strong chapter. I think the feeling was that if you really want to call them `sisters,' then why not get rid of the right of passage" associated with pledging.