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Pledging is fucking hard. Or at least it is if you’re doing it right. As with most difficult things, there are tons of people in this world who don’t have what it takes to complete the tasks. Sure, rush is supposed to eliminate most of those guys, but you can never really know if a guy has what it takes to go the distance until you actually put him through a bunch of shit. As the process goes along, you may have guys–or rumors of them at least–who want to drop. This is a big deal. You chose this pledge class carefully, and anyone who de-pledges stands as a mark of your failure. When you get this news, there are a few things you definitely need to do.
1. Tell the officers.
I say this all the time, but I’ll say it again. You elected those fucks for a reason. They’re the smartest, most responsible guys in your chapter (hopefully) and they’ve been to meetings about this shit. They know what a de-pledge means, and they know the primary reasons behind it. So if you have it on good authority that the pledge in question is for sure going to drop, don’t go to him immediately. Grab the officer you trust most, fill him in, and offer to help out. He’ll have the best advice for you.
2. Figure out if he’s worth keeping.
The fact is, some guys who get bids turn out pretty quickly to not live up to expectations. More often than not, those guys also tend to be the ones who are most likely to drop. If they’re dogging it during activities, not showing up to events, and just generally have a shitty attitude, they’re also pretty likely to just say “fuck it” and de-pledge. This can actually work in your favor. While having a dropped pledge on your record doesn’t exactly look good, it’s sure as fuck better than initiating a guy who hasn’t earned it. Have a real conversation amongst yourselves as to whether you even want to make an effort to keep the kid.
3. Talk to him.
Don’t baby him and don’t tell him everything’s going to be okay, because let’s be honest–it’s not. It gets a lot harder before it gets better. But hear what he has to say. Maybe someone’s been singling him out a little too much, which can be a real problem and it happens too often. Maybe he’s worried about his grades. Or maybe he’s just a pussy. You’ll never know until you talk to him. If it’s a legitimate worry such as grades, make sure he knows that there are measures in place to make sure he doesn’t fail. If you’re running your process correctly, then there should be mechanisms such as required downtime and collective pledge study sessions to alleviate that. If there aren’t, then you need to take a good, hard look at the way you clowns run things. Hear him out, though. Hell, just knowing that you guys are willing to listen to him is often enough to get him off the de-pledge ledge.
4. Have his pledge brothers talk to him.
This is your last resort. Sometimes guys just get overwhelmed and make a mistake. There were several times that we’d go talk to a kid, figure out what his deal was, and really all he needed was to be reassured that pledging wasn’t going to end his fucking life. In those scenarios, you don’t want the rest of his pledge brothers to know, because it can kill morale and weaken their bond with him. Don’t worry, you can tell everyone he was a big fucking baby once they’re all initiated. It’s a fun story. So unless it looks absolutely certain that he’s going to fill out the drop paperwork, don’t tell anyone in his class. If he’s dead set on doing it, that’s when you bring out the biggest gun of all: brotherhood. Sure, you went through the same shit he did, but you didn’t do it alongside him. There’s nothing better than seeing a couple pledge bitches stepping up and protecting their brother, especially when it’s from himself. If he’s on the precipice, there’s no one he’s going to listen to more than the guys he’s been going through hell with.
5. Don’t bend over backward for him.
This is key. I don’t care how much of a rockstar you think the kid is or how much he brings to the table, he could be a potential four-year starter at quarterback for your champ league intramural team, but I don’t give a shit. No matter what he tells you, he gets no special treatment. Your only goal is to convince him that what he’s going through is worth it, but you can’t bring down the intensity to a level he can handle. The process is the process; some kids can handle it, some can’t. That’s fine. It is not your job to get a pledge class through. It is your job to get the right pledge class through. If he can’t handle that, then he’s not a member of the right pledge class.