Zeta Beta Tau is proud to be the first fraternity that abolished pledging.
Zeta Beta Tau’s brotherhood program is known as THE JOURNEY. THE JOURNEY focuses on the lifelong commitment that brothers make to ZBT. We believe brothers need to earn their membership every day.
What is pledging?
Pledging a fraternity is often referred to as the time between when a bid is offered to a new recruit and he is formally initiated into the fraternity. For many fraternities, this period occurs over several weeks. Pledges have limited rights and extended responsibilities and have no guarantee that they will become brothers.
Pledging was not part of the founding of fraternities; rather it emerged as a practice after World War II. The unnatural dominant/subservient relationship between the brother and the pledge leads to an imbalanced fraternity. This
imbalance may lead down a path that can spiral out of control, potentially leading to hazing.
How are pledging and hazing related?
Leading up to the decision to abolish pledging 1988, the ZBT Supreme Council saw a continuous series of disciplinary problems and lawsuits that mostly resulted from hazing incidents. The Supreme Council determined that pledging did not promote the values of ZBT because pledging creates a two-tier class system that always leads to hazing. Pledging does not create good brothers — it teaches that once the pledge period is over, there is no further obligation to the Fraternity. Pledging makes good pledges, not great brothers.
What does it mean to be a fraternity without pledging?
Zeta Beta Tau prides itself that our brotherhood is built upon equality and that all brothers share equal rights and responsibilities from the beginning. This also places emphasis on the fact that ZBT is a lifelong brotherhood.
How does ZBT build brotherhood without a pledge period?
Pledging does not build a strong brotherhood in a chapter/colony. Pledging promotes animosity within the chapters/colonies by focusing on a pledge class. Brotherhood is built over a lifetime in ZBT through the shared experiences of our brothers.
Through THE JOURNEY, brothers are offered ongoing opportunities to strengthen their relationships with other brothers, develop leadership skills and become involved on campus and in their communities.
How does THE JOURNEY work?
THE JOURNEY should be utilized by all brothers in ZBT. THE JOURNEY contains multiple components, including:
• Initial Brother Education where recently initiated brothers learn about the values, history and heritage of the Fraternity, as well as how to get involved in their chapter/colony and on campus.
• All Chapter/Colony Education where we promote a balance of fraternity activities in the areas of social, bonding, athletics, alumni, service and education.
• All Brother Education where chapters/colonies conduct yearly programs on topics including but not limited to: alcohol use, risk management, date rape awareness, suicide prevention, health and wellness issues and more. The use of guest speakers and campus resources are encouraged.
• Education by Class where specific educational programs are held for freshman, sophomores,
juniors and seniors based on their interests, such as selecting a major, dressing for interviews and networking successfully. The use of guest
speakers and campus resources are encouraged.
• Leadership Education where brothers will develop skills in conflict management, goal setting and more to become effective leaders. The use of guest speakers and campus resources are
• The Big Brother program where older brothers serve as mentors to newly initiated brothers.