If you have been a member of a Greek organization or you have known someone who has, or even watched movies with fraternities in them you have seen Greek paddles. This is simply part of the organization, and most of them have a new paddle made for every year or every class of pledges that comes through the “house”. The paddles are usually displayed in some prominent room of the main fraternity or sorority house to be seen by all who enter. While there is usually a paddle for every class of pledges or every year in operation most fraternity pledges are asked to make their own.
For instance, if you were going to join Tau Kappa Epsilon you may be asked before you are a full member of the organization to make your own paddle. This is something that most groups require that you put a lot of time and thought into, and often the result is part of what allows for one to be admitted into the selective group. Greek paddles look a lot like boat oars, in fact if you need to make one you might want to start with a boat ore that you can decorate as you see fit. Most paddles are about 2-3 feet in length, though some are bigger.
Wondering what is done with the paddles? Most of the time, they are just used as decoration or memento of joining the fraternity or sorority. Most pledges place them on their wall to remind them of their commitment to the group. A lot of alumni keep their paddles inflatable paddle board in a prominent place in their home or their office throughout their life, so it really does serve a purpose.
Other fraternities and sororities actually have their pledges make paddles for the “brother” or “sister” that is helping them pledge. The idea is to win the favor of the brother or sister by making them the most unique paddle. As is the same if you made the paddle for yourself, these paddles are usually hung on the wall. The idea is to show the pride you have in the Greek organization and share that pride with the other members of the group. This can be done in many creative ways from paint, to fabric, to rhinestones, and more. Greek paddles like the one that you would see in any sorority or fraternity such as Alpha Phi or others will have the sorority name and crest or symbol on the paddle that is totally customized. Many pledges make several paddles before it is all said and done.
The Greek paddle is a tradition that dates back for generations in the Greek fraternities and sororities and it probably isn’t a tradition that will be done away with any time soon. While the paddles are just decorative, they also serve as a right of passage and get the new pledges to enjoy being members of an exclusive group. Most pledges agree that making their paddle was a lot of fun and an experience that won’t soon be forgotten!