Many of you have been following the saga of Carl, the broken down pledge who stays in regular contact with his very concerned mother via email. Carl is in the midst of what seems to be an aggressively pro-hazing pledge regimen, and he’s taking it pretty harshly. He’s well past distraught and is flirting with full-blown depression. He has no escape, only an email account and a helpless parent on the other end of it. Kid’s in a bad way and is taking it out on his poor mother — a sweet, sweet lady. He accepted his bid as a wide-eyed and innocent freshman, not knowing of the stark reality that would lie ahead. He was naïve, never even really expecting to get hazed. All rumor and hearsay, he thought — just a light-hearted mental edge the actives would keep over their pledges. He was joining a fraternity to immerse himself in a fun, welcoming, and adventurous college lifestyle. Oh, he’d get all that, but he’d have to pay the piper first before the fun would begin.
The column series featuring Carl and his sweet mother, chronicling their ongoing email exchanges about his pledgeship struggles, has been a successful one. This is partly because it’s relatable. A lot of us have been there. We know how Carl feels because we experienced it ourselves, and just like poor Carl, we hated it.
In this week’s Mailbag, we hear from a real life Carl. He’s in the middle of pledging a fraternity at a “major SEC school,” and he’s realizing how “fucking fucked” he is. Here’s the email:
Hello Uncle Rodge, most people start this stuff off by saying fuck you, but you’re a nice guy so i’ll let it slide. I am a pledge at a major SEC school. I am not going to say the school or fraternity for fear of brothers finding out and getting my balls hazed (i even made a fake email for this). Pledgeship blows, and to say i am broken pledge is an understatement. “You’re fucking fucked” has been drilled into my mind and i am constantly looking over my shoulder no matter where i am. I need advice Uncle Rodge, im fucking fucked.
“…most people start this stuff off by saying fuck you, but you’re a nice guy so i’ll let it slide.”
What a total bitch move. No wonder you’re taking pledgeship like a little P-word. You get a softball lobbed right over the heart of the plate and you don’t even take a swing at it. What’s the matter with you? You get your shot to call me anything in the book with zero repercussions and you take the high road? You serious? God, I’d like to haze you myself right now, you weak-minded little pledge fuck. Next time you get a shot like this, you take it, pledge. You swing so damn hard that I want you coming out of your Sperrys. You got that?
“…but you’re a nice guy” Oh yeah? Well you’re an asshole.
With that out of the way, I’m still going to offer a few words of encouragement. I’m a man of the people. No one’s excluded, not even pledges.
Okay, here’s what I gather from your email: you’re currently taking on a barrage of mental warfare tactics and they are all squarely hitting their target. Like a lab rat being tested for slew of new pharmaceuticals, the actives of your chapter are trying out all different kinds of mindfuck weapons on you, and their hit rate is 100% so far. You didn’t mention anything about physical hazing, so I’m going to assume it hasn’t been too bad thus far, only a few weeks into pledgeship.
We all know the mental stuff is the worst, though. The simple freedoms that have been stripped from you really begin to take their toll on a young man. Paranoia sets in as you assume the role of mental prisoner, and your warden is a team of 19 to 22-year-old drunkards with the most creative hazing minds ever assembled. They make the rules. You follow them or pay the price. And if even if you follow them, you’re still going to pay the price.
“…i am constantly looking over my shoulder no matter where i am.”
Oh yeah, they’ve got you. That’s the classic symptom of active-pledge mind control. You’re merely a pawn in their game, and that game is a pretty messed up one.
Here’s what you need to do to get your mental edge back: you’re going to have to blackball a member of your pledge class. He’ll be your sacrificial lamb. Choose the weakest member (preferable a really nice kid, and a legacy), call a meeting among your PBs, sit him down, and let him know that he’s been balled and needs to hit the bricks. Don’t mince words, please. The message needs to be loud and clear. This will send shock waves throughout the active chapter. At the next lineup, they’re going to ask you about it. “Why the hell did you guys blackball Peter? He’s a legacy.”
Here’s your answer: “Peter was a pussy, sir.”
Say that and only that. Nothing else. Let them try and fill in the blanks. Boom, mental upper-hand for a little while. It’ll feel good. I mean, you’re still going to feel awful about Peter, who, truthfully, would have made a great addition to the chapter. But you’re going to garner a flicker of respect from the active members. You’re also still gonna get hazed, maybe even worse since you balled a legacy, but at least they know they’ll be hazing a group of ruthless dickheads.
That’s a win.