Mommy dearest: Pledges gain family members

While bar hopping in Champaign, most college students don’t expect to run into their mom.

Pledge moms, on the other hand, are a whole different story.

After sororities hand out bids, which will happen on Sept. 19 this year, sophomores in each house start to scope out the pledges for a potential pledge daughter — and competition for the perfect baby can get fierce.

Once the babies have been sorted out, most sororities designate a night in October when the pairings for mom and daughter are revealed.

“I don’t want to reveal any surprises, but there is a certain ritual that we have during initiation week,” said sophomore in LAS, Melanie Bava.

Some sororities have a scavenger hunt around their houses.

“This year we had clues that led us around the house,” said sophomore in DGS, Shay Caplice. “In the end, we found one sock that we had to put on, went into the basement to see who was wearing the same sock, and that’s how you found out who your mom was.”

Although pledge mom night doesn’t occur until October, many girls start preparing for their future daughter in the summer by creating a baby basket.

Baby baskets can cost anywhere between $150 and $300, as well as the cost of crafts created by the pledge moms themselves.

This usually involves several trips to Hobby Lobby — the promised land for sorority arts and crafts.

The baby basket will also include clothing and, most famously, the navy rain jackets that show off every sorority girls’ letters on the Quad.

For some families, there are specific heirlooms passed down from generation to generation.

“My family has a little notebook with every family member’s name written in it, dating back to 1995,” said sophomore in LAS, Darija Siliunas.

After the pledge daughters are selected, a proper family night is always in order. This usually includes going out with the whole pledge family — including husbands, dads, grandmas and great-grandpas.

“It’s nice to catch up with each other and talk about how much we love our house,” Bava said.

Some pledge families have a reputation for getting pretty rowdy when celebrating their new members, while others don’t like to scare off the new kids.

All silliness aside, having a pledge mom seems to make a positive impact.

“It helped me get to know everyone and helped me realize what being in a sorority is all about,” Siliunas said. “I plan and hope to do that same for my baby.”