What’s In A Name?
By Robin Beltramini, Iota (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee
When deciding where to go and what to do, we look for the names of places and events. The names give us a clue of the purpose of the activity or venue. The same is true with AOII events. “International Convention” tells us that all of AOII will gather for the biennial meeting of business and sisterhood. “Chapter meeting” lets us know that chapter members will convene for the business and sisterhood decisions necessary for the progress of the chapter and its members. “Ritual for Initiation” tells us that our new members will attain full membership. Then, there is the “Pledge Service.”
In times past, this may have been a universally understood, descriptive name for an AOII event. However, language and usage have evolved since we last revised our Rituals publications during 2007. “Pledge” still is both a verb and a noun. However, the verb is seldom used these days, often substituted with words such as “promise” or “commitment.” “Pledge,” the noun, now may be perceived as a disparagement or subservient designation. “Service” can be universally understood by AOIIs familiar with our proceedings categories: Rituals, Ceremonies, and Services. What to do about the word “pledge”…
The Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) took the challenge, realizing the changes in attitude, language, and understandings prevalent in today’s world. While the words within the Service are the same, we unanimously believe the new title, “Pinning Service,” is more descriptive. As the first AOII proceeding a new member encounters, this new title clearly states this is when the candidate will receive her AOII New Member pin. Additionally, this is the title many collegians have called this Service for some time.
Now, does this impact the Ceremony of Transition? Yes, but not just because the Pledge Service was renamed. It also has to do with the title’s descriptiveness (or lack thereof). RT&J believes it would be better to give the event a more descriptive title to clarify this is when the new member returns her chapter-owned New Member pin in preparation to receive her personally owned badge of full membership. Therefore, this Ceremony is now called the “Depinning Ceremony.” Why is this a Ceremony and the Pinning Service a Service? Short answer is because of the commitment involved. The Pinning Service elicits promises from new members who usually become fully initiated members. The Depinning Ceremony takes back the temporary pin in preparation for full, lifetime individual, and Fraternity commitment.
RT&J believes these changes are not just a sign of the times, but a service to our members and the public regarding our proceedings. RT&J is grateful to the AOII Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Education (DEIE) Workgroup for their validation statement that reads in part, “…it is necessary that we adopt language that is both reflective of best practices and inclusive of our members. Proactive change is a hallmark of visional leadership and we commend and support this action taken by the RT&J Committee…”
You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&J@alphaomicronpi.org.