Through good times and bad, ZBT has been in the forefront of pioneering new concepts — as evidenced by its very founding as the world’s first Jewish fraternity, its subsequent elimination of sectarian membership practices in 1954, its acceptance of mergers from other fraternal groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s and its elimination of pledging, and its ability to solve enormous problems when others abandoned the effort. Since the practice of pledging and all second-class status practices were abolished in ZBT in 1989, all men are initiated as full equals with full rights and respect within 72 hours of being invited to join the fraternity. Our leadership believes pledging is indicative of a culture of hazing that we do not support. All brothers take part in a brotherhood enrichment program that includes education and relationship building called THE JOURNEY.
Why Does ZBT Prohibit Pledging?
1. Pledging always results in hazing.
Hazing inevitably results from the dominant-subservient structure of pledging and the absolute power that brothers have over pledges. In addition, the last group of pledges always wants to “do it” (hazing) to the next group. The chapter’s pattern of hazing often starts with small things. Those small things are expanded upon with each new class, until someone gets hurt, or the chapter gets caught.
2. What is hazing?
“Hazing” refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. Hazing is abusive, derogatory and intimidating.
3. Pledging is destructive to True Brotherhood.
Under pledging systems, the chapter is run by the chapter officers who do the planning and decision making, and the pledges who do the dirty work. They know that the chapter won’t take action because of the “once you’re in, you’re in” attitude created by pledging. “I’ve done my time” gives someone license to pick and choose their participation, regardless of the chapter’s needs. Apathy is permitted and encouraged in fraternity chapters that pledge.
4. Pledging doesn’t do what it is intended to do.
• Make someone “earn” his membership. Their mistake is in assuming that “earning one’s membership” ends on the day of initiation. All successful organizations believe that “earning” one’s right to membership is a day-in, day-out obligation; in ZBT, “earning one’s membership” starts on the day of initiation and continues for life.
• Bond people together. Bonding by forced (required) ordeal bonds only in terms of that experience. Hazed pledges may bond as a result of being hazed, but only as a group, not with the rest of the Brothers. Bonding that comes from freely chosen experiences is a highly personal phenomena. People bond because they have something in common.
What, then, does pledging do that can’t be done without pledging? Pledging gives people the opportunity to haze other people by blackmail “if you don’t do what I want you to do, I’ll get you thrown out ...” Pledging and hazing is fun only for bullies.
5. Hazing is illegal in most states and provinces, and violates the rules and policies of all North American colleges and universities and all fraternities.
6. A true brotherhood is based on equality.
Pledging is an inequitable system, based upon organized mistreatment of people by treating them as subhuman. Pledging gives brothers absolute power over pledges; that power is frequently abused by one or more sadists in a chapter.