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As an alumnus of the Chi Delta chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., I appreciate the importance of a story (“Greek Tragedy,” 6/18) regarding pledging black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs). As a former dean of pledges at the University of Maryland College Park chapter, I believe pledging should be a series of hypothetical situations. It is designed to simulate the rites of passage required by many African groups as well as the “humility with dignity” experienced during the civil rights movement. Like BGLO pledges, brave African-Americans defiantly walked into lunch counters filled with hostile whites and demanded that the rights whites possessed be bestowed upon them. Unlike in the pledge process, the physical confrontation was not hypothetical, yet it was courageous action such as this that determined the leadership in the black community.
Pledging, as a rite of passage or display of dignity and courage, prepares our young men and women for the important roles they must play in society. Be it from the lack of understanding of the purpose of the pledge process or the “all guts, no glory” nature of the member intake program, it is evident that leaders of the national BGLOs have failed in establishing a pledge process that would attract strong men and women while staying true to traditions of our organizations and the history of our people. The current process is no more than a way for weak-willed pretenders and opportunistic lawyers to make a quick buck.
If the article had not been so one-sided, interviews of the 24 men initially charged in the “hazing” incident involving Mr. Snell would have revealed doctors, lawyers, military officers, businessmen, and other upstanding leaders within the community. Also, Mr. Ruffins would have discovered the many inconsistencies in Mr. Snell’s story that led to the state of Maryland (not Mr. Snell, as it was erroneously reported) dropping the charges against the brothers. I sincerely believe that most people would choose to be represented by men who are well-tested and will stand by their principles rather than those who hide their identity until a cash award becomes probable.
Assistant Dean for Admissions
Catholic University of America
School of Law
via the Internet