Recently, The SL Parade’s Editor-In-Chief temporarily put aside her SL responsibilities to pledge an SL sorority. Though she and another pledge were abruptly cut from their pledge line, ReRe Sandalwood felt that there were still some tangible lessons to be learned from this experience, and presents this article as a way to help others understand that even in SL, they still have the power of choice when it comes to the pledging process.
While sororities and fraternities are common staples on college and university campuses, did you know that there are also sororities and fraternities inworld? Unlike RL college and university-based sororities, it can be conveniently argued that when someone joins an SL sorority, there is (ideally) no additional academic pressures. For instance, in an SL world, one would not necessarily have to worry about balancing their academic course load with the pledging process, and there is no pressure to maintain a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) in order to stay in an SL Sorority either. Yet with all of these seemingly awesome benefits in tow, it is easy to dismiss the SL pledging process as something easy; it is also easy to focus on all the great things that go along with joining an SL sorority, including the parties, the camaraderie of sister and/or brotherhood, and being a part of the SL outreach efforts designed to help RL organizations that are also cemented inworld.
Yet, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to any SL Sorority and/or Fraternity, and it is important to remember that in the midst of the pledging process, you still have a right to thoroughly evaluate a sorority and/or fraternity prior to pledging, as well as during and after the pledging process is complete. If an inworld sorority and/or fraternity makes you feel otherwise, that should, in and of itself, be a red flag in your evaluation process.
So….What Should You Look For When Joining A Sorority or a Fraternity?
Prior to joining any Fraternity or Sorority, it is very important to thoroughly evaluate not only the organization as a whole, but the individual members as well. Specifically, determine if the organization has a solid reputation within the SL community. For instance, do they have a reputation for being honest and forthright in their dealings, specifically as it relates to the nonprofit groups they align themselves with? Further, are the nonprofit groups they align themselves with accredited ones, and do these nonprofits have a solid standing within the RL and SL community? If these questions can not be sufficiently answered, it may be a red flag about the organization.
- Evaluate your budget to determine if you can afford the hidden costs that goes along with being a part of a fraternity/sorority. Specifically, all SL Sororities and Fraternities require members to pay a monthly fee. This fee is designed to help organizational costs such as Tier payments, as well as costs that come along with hosting various events and venues. Also, be aware that you may have to pay for additional expenses related to participating in Probate…this includes payment for clothing, dance huds, etc.
- Once you have determined your budget, be sure to individually evaluate the members of the organization. For instance, are there any members in the organization that have a reputation for exhibiting disrespectful conduct such as cyberbullying? Do they have a reputation for exhibiting positive social skills with other SL community members? Even if one or two members have a reputation for exhibiting negative qualities inworld or on Facebook, their conduct reflects (not to mention impacts) the organization as a whole, and also indicates problems within the organization.
- Determine not only if you have the time to participate in the pledging process, but if the organization is flexible when it comes to RL circumstances. This is very important, especially if you have an RL family you have to care for. If, for instance, the pledge masters involved in the pledging process insist that you put your RL circumstances aside to fully focus on their pledging process, this not only demonstrates just how inflexible the organization is, but also makes a person wonder what THEIR (i.e. the SL Sorority and/or Fraternity) RL priorities are. An organization should have members that represent a realistic balance between RL and SL; this balance will allow them to not only demonstrate discernment as it relates to RL circumstances, but will better hone their skills as inworld leaders, too.
- Get to know others who are pledging the SL Sorority and/or Fraternity. Part of the pledging process involves attending parties sponsored by the fraternity and/or sorority. Attending these parties not only demonstrate your interest in their organization, it also offers a way to see other potential pledges who are interested, too. Rather than look at the potential pledges as competition, take the time to introduce yourself and get to know them. It will be important to do this because during the pledging process, there will be times that you will need their help in completing various events. tasks and activities related to the pledging process.
- Determine if the organization you are pledging has realistic rules that are routinely followed and enforced. For instance, if their bylines state that it is okay for a pledge to continue working inworld, it is important that all members understand this, and not abruptly change the rules to fit their personal fancy.
- Make sure role play limits are discussed prior to pledging an organization. Many SL community members suffer from an array of medical issues and mental disorders; for this reason, it is important that role play limits be discussed to prevent any potential triggers, as well as better understand how to holistically relate to the pledges involved in the pledging process. Discussing role play limits can also prove advantageous for those pledging, because this can give a person a better idea of how the organization treats others not only during the pledging process, but also after the pledging process is completed.
- Make sure that all sorority/fraternity members offer an inclusive atmosphere that does not pit one pledge against the other. If any members of the sorority creates an atmosphere that encourages exclusion this, in turn, contradicts the whole reason behind creating inworld sororities and fraternities in the first place.
- Determine if the organization upholds the same beliefs inherent in the nonprofits they support. For instance, if an organization states that they support advocacy related to the prevention of cyberbullying, but harbors members who routinely use social media to bully others, this directly shows that there is contradiction within their ranks.
- Investigate if the organization you are pledging is officially aligned with any real life fraternities and/or sororities. Be mindful that the bulk of SL sororities and fraternities are not officially aligned with any real life ones at all; if they are using the same namesake as an RL sorority, this could be considered copyright infringement that could hold all involved liable.
While all of these are merely suggestions, it is extremely important to remember the following: if, at anytime, you feel uncomfortable during the pledging process for any reason, do not ignore what you feel. It is better to walk away from the pledging process with your self-esteem intact, rather than continue on. It is also important to remember that like the sorority and/or fraternity, you are also evaluating the organization to determine if it is a solid fit for your SL needs. Remembering is very important, because when it is all said and done, joining any SL organization centers around your growth as a person, not solely their growth as an organization.