Alpha Kappa Alpha
Initiation Ritual


Pledge Ceremony  
Introduction into membership of the Ivy Leaf Pledge Club must involve this pledging ceremony and this pledging ceremony is a part of induction into full membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The pledge ceremony follows voting on candidates, signing  of affirmation cards , approval of Regional Director , and acceptance by the candidate of an official written invitation to affiliate with the Pledge Club.
Pledging shall take place no longer than six weeks prior to initiation , except where university Pan Hellenic and/or college or university regulations dictate other procedure. In these exceptions, copies at the respective college or university regulations should accompany requests for permission to make these exceptions.
In alumna chapters, the pledging shall take place two to six weeks prior to initiation.
At the time of pledging, a pledge card shall be signed by each candidate. These cards are to be kept on file by the chapter. If the person is not initiated, the reason must be recorded on the back of the card.
All sorority members participating in the ceremony are dressed in conservative white dresses. Candidates wear black dresses, (Pantsuits are not acceptable for either the sorors or the candidates.
The candidates assemble in the ante-room where they are questioned by the Sentinel as to their desire to become pledgees of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
All candidates are then conducted by the Sentinel assembled. (Soft music is played.)
The candidates stand in semi-circle around the table facing the Basileus. Upon the table are two candleholders with pink and green candles and a pledge book before a centerpiece of tea roses and/or a pot of ivy.
SERVICE: Open with prayer.
1. Song, " I Think I Shall Never Know"
I think that I shall never know
Another love that thrills me so,
Dwells in my heart by night, by day
As does my love for A.K.A.
I think that I need never fear
Where heart. are loyal, true and dear.
Secure I am at work, at play
Of such are these--the A. K. A.
I think when I shall come to die
There'll be no need of fear or sigh,
For if I'v e been an A.K. A.
Life owes me naught
I've lived my day.
2. Speaker or Bible reading (Ruth 1:16 - 17 )
3. Poem, "The Ivy"
Pushing the clods o f earth aside,
Leaving the dark where foul things hide,
Spreading its leaves to the summer sun,
Bondage ended freedom won;
So let my soul like the Ivy be;
Rise, for the sun shine calls for thee,
Climbing up as the sea sons go,
Looking d own upon things below;
Twining itself in branches high,
As if the frail thin owned the sky;
So let my soul like the Ivy be;
Heaven, not earth's the place for thee.
Wrapping itself round the giant oak,
Hiding itself from tempest's stroke;
Strong and brave is the fragile thing,
For it knows one secret how to cling,
So let my soul like the Ivy be;
Hear the mighty One,
Lean on Me.
Green are its leaves when the world is white;
For the Ivy sings through the night,
Keeping the hearts of oak awake,
Till flowers shall bloom and spring shall break;
So let my soul through the winter's rain,
Sings the sunshine back again.
Opening its green and fluttering breast,
Giving the timid birds a nest,
Coming out from the winter wild,
To make a wreath for the Holy Child.
So let my life like the Ivy be.
A help to man and a wreath for Thee.
4. Basileus' Statement
…. Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha operates within the national Organization according to a constitution which meets the requirements for affiliation.
…. Chapter systematically work to include in its membership outstanding college women from different racial, occupational, religious and cultural groups.
Our program is organized so that the sorors have opportunities to know mare about the sorority locally and nationally.
We are committed to a policy of shared responsibility and cooperative effort between graduate and under graduate sorors in the work of the Sorority.
We are concerned with the needs of all women and girls.
We aim to maintain good working relationships with churches, schools, and social and civic agencies.
We fulfill our obligations as member of the national organization by:
1. Participating in the Boule and in the National Program;
2. Assuming our share of responsibility for the support of the national work in the following ways;
3. Following and improving practices recommended by the Directorate, which are: ….
4. Sending in such reports on our works as requested by the Directorate and Alpha Kappa Alpha Office
The types of reports are: ….

One aspect of the pledge period is the learning of the preparation of these reports.
Are you willing to comply with this perspective? If so, will you individually kneel, raise your right hand and then repeat after me.
The candidate kneel before the table while the Basileus reads the following pledge which the candidate repeat after her. Each candidate then signs her name in the pledge book.
The Pledge
I, …, desiring to become a loyal and faithful member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, do pledge myself to respect, obey and defend the Constitution, By-laws and Rituals of the organisation and to abide by all the rules and regulations of the Alpha. Kappa Alpha Sorority.
After all the candidates have taken the vow and signed their names in the pledge book, the Sentinel gives each a lighted pink or green candle and a small pot of ivy. While this is being done, the Basileus repeats the last two lines of the Ivy Hymn:
So let my life like the Ivy be.
A help to man and a wreath for Thee.
The Basileus is encouraged to commit to memory this portion of the ceremony so that she can use her hands and facial expressions to convey the meaning and sacredness of the ceremony.
We, as sorors, will clasp our hand and sing our hymn. We pledge anew the kinds of lives that penetrate the dark and light the paths of others.
We pledge to live anew the kinds of lives that will show the way to the greatest good and thus supreme in service to all mankind will shine our sisterhood.
Sorors clasp hands in circle formed a round pledges and sing sorority hymn. Candles are then extinguished and the pledgees march from the inner room in solemn music.
Ending of Pledging Ritual.
The Dean of Pledgees reassemble the pledges and sorors , gives appropriate word of welcome to Ivy membership, and presents to each pledge the following:
a. The Ivy Pin
b. The Ivy Club Manual (Ivy Primer)
c. Alpha Kappa Alpha, 1908 - 1958 or Sixty Years of Service
d. Schedule of assignments of orientation material;s to be studied concerning the purpose of the Ivy Leaf Pledge Club; the purposes, history, ideals and organization of Alpha Kappa Alpha in particular and Greek letter organizations in general. (See Reading and Study Guide for appropriate assignments).
e. A roster of the members of the initiating chapter with correct addresses and telephone numbers.
f. Date, time, and place of the first meeting of the pledgees for the purpose of organizing the
Ivy Leaf Club with officers, planned agenda, etc.
The following suggestions are made for good relationships between Ivy Leaf Pledge Club members and Sorors.
The Sorors should attend the meeting of the Ivy Leaf Pledge Club as frequently as possible. Their attendance should be fellowship rather than for criticism or ridicule.
The Soror should enjoy more informal and social meetings with Ivies as sisters, not as superiors. The Sorors should not expect Ivies to perform personal errands nor should they request gifts or treats.
The Dean of Pledges is directly responsible to the Graduate Advisor for Ivy Leaf Pledge Club program and activities. She alone is to make assignments. The Ivy Leaf Pledge program agreed upon by the chapter and approved by the Graduate Advisor, is to be sent to the Regional Director along with the material on the candidates.
Probation and Initiation
The period from the beginning of the PROBATION PERIOD to the end of the INITIATION CEREMONY is a time of great anxiety, keen anticipation and joy. This could be labelled in the time of the “making of an Alpha Kappa Alpha Soror.”
The period of probation is generally considered a period of testing and time of group cohesiveness in its highest order for the Probates. The success of the probation period depends on the creativity, maturity, and level of intelligent judgement on the part of both Sorors and Probates.
The probation period should begin one week before initiation, except on campuses where Pan-Hellenic of administrative regulations differ.
The activities for probation must not include any acts which may be defined as hazing, namely, any act that is likely to cause physical, psychological or social harm to an individual. This includes action taken or a situation created providing mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.
There must be no consumption of foods or liquids in any pledge, probation, or initiation ceremony.
Initiation Ritual
The setting for the ceremony should be beautiful and solemn. The candidates and sorors must be properly dressed. All necessary items for the ceremony should be in place at least one-half hour prior to the time of the ceremony. Items needed are:
-          table with white table cloth
-          large white candle entwined with Ivy
-          white candles
-          pen
-          record book
-          coat of arms
-          Ivy.
Sorors should wear conservative white dresses. Neither Soror nor candidates should wear pants. Dress should be uniform: i.e. all wear long dresses or short knee-length dresses.
Participation by Sorors
1. Soror should know the National Hymn, Pledge, the Initiation Hymn, and demonstrations of
signs (handshakes and identifications).
2. Sorors should stand during each degree while candidates proceed through them.
1. Wear black dress for first degree.
2. Wear white dress for remaining degrees.
3. Know National Hymn, Initiation Hymn, Pledge.
In the actual performance of the Initiation Ritual it is suggested that the Dean of Pledgees or Membership Chair lady serve as the "Pilot". In this role, she will provide an atmosphere of tranquillity and calmness for the Probates.
The Degrees
I. Devotion and Promise

Setting: On a table covered in white is a HUGE WHITE CANDLE entwined with Ivy, representing our FOUNDER, Soror Ethel Helgeman Lyle.
For this degree ONLY, the Basileus and Pilot wear a black academic gown and the candidate(s) wear black dress(es). Each candidate should have a white candle.
As the candidate(s} enter, soft music is sung: "I Think That I Shall Never Know" or a similar selection.
Basileus: You have chosen ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA as your Sorority; your choice is a wise one. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is more than a sisterhood. It is a SYMBOL: A symbol of love, faith, and promise. It is the first GREEK LETTER organisation founded at Howard University, Washington, D.C., in 1908.
Alpha Kappa Alpha has established itself as a dynamic group which initiates new movements and new programs. It serves, therefore, as a t raining ground for women who will assume increasingly greater responsibilities for leadership in their expanding communities.
In the years to come, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will continue to be a channel through which individuals may find together what they cannot find separately or independently -- security, a sense of responsibility, the response of friends and opportunities for experiences in mutually rewarding service.
Do you wish to unite with this group of women who are dedicated to the expansion of their college and communities by assuming greater responsibilities?
Pilot to Probates: Repeat after me: “I do”
Basileus: Let us pray. Repeat after me:
Open then my eyes, O God, that I may behold the wondrous works of this great organization. Make me to understand the ideals and purposes of this sisterhood so that I may continue the great work so nobly begun.
Take from me any selfishnes and lack of purpose which could keep me from following the ideals of the organization. Awaken within me holy desires, inspire me with a new enthusiasm of the revered FOUNDERS and grant me wisdom and strength that I may render service to all mankind. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Are you willing to accept the responsibilities and obligations which will be yours as a soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority? If so, repeat after me. " I do."
Basileus to Probates: I sincerely dedicate my time and talent to the growth and development of the program of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. This I promise in deed and truth.
The Basileus lights a candle from the single white candle on the table representing Soror Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. From her candle, she lights the Pilot's candle, who lights the first candidate's candle and it is passed on to each candidate until all the candidates have lighted candles.
Basileus:  Pass on this torch, pass on this flame; remember from whence the glory came; and eyes are on you as you run beyond the shining of the sun. Repeat until all candles are lighted.
Pilot to Candidates: Repeat after me.
Candidates: I take the torch from you. I will be true. I will be free and clean of heart, and strong to beat the glory to its goal.
To Our Founders, we bow candidates bow their heads.
Our purpose seal: I will for honor of thy name, pass on the torch, pass on the flame.
The Pilot then leads the candidate out of the room as the Sorors sing softly.
II Obedience
Candidates assemble in the ante-room where the following questions are asked by the Pilot:
Pilot to Candidates: Are you willing to accept the responsibilities of a Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority? If so, repeat after me: "I am."
Candidates: I am.
Pilot: Do you solemnly promise obedience to the laws governing this organization? If so, repeat after me: "I do."
Candidates: I do.
Pilot: Those who are not willing may withdraw. Pilot alarms the door.
Sentinel, stationed at the door: Basileus, there is an alarm at the door.
Basileus: Attend the alarm, Sentinel.
Sentinel: Basileus, the Pilot with the candidates who desire to be admitted to our order is here.
Basileus: Have the Candidates made satisfactory answers to the questions and expressed their desire to unite with us?
Sentinel: I will ascertain. Sentinel ascertains from the Pilot.
Pilot: They have.
Basileus: Then, admit them. Pilot enters with the candidates, and lights are lowered.
Basileus to Candidate: Are you willing to be submissive and in every way to subjugate yourself to the highest authority?
Pilot to Candidates: Repeat after me: " I Am."
Candidates: I am.
Basileus: What proof have you.
Pilot to Candidates: Repeat after me: “I show my submission by kneeling." Candidates kneel a few minutes. Nothing but silence prevails.
Basileus: Candidates, arise.
The pilot and sorors lead the candidates in a line in a winding way. The sponsor of each candidate should be at her side. The Basileus repeats this phrase seven times: "Life is a winding maze, and intricate labyrinth through which we must wander all our days."
Candidates are then taken to the ante-room after the seventh intonation.
Pilot: Candidates, are you willing to enter deeper into the mysteries of our organization? If so, state after me. "I am. "
Candidates: I am.
Pilot knocks at the door.
III Faith and Trust
Sentinel: Basileus, there is an alarm at the door.
Basileus: Sentinel, attend the alarm.
Sentinel: The Pilot with the candidates.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is perpetuated through the faith and trust its
members have engendered in the ideal and aim of the organization.
Faith is believing ─ believing so deeply that we act, we live what we believe.
Trust is to commit something to the care of another.
You will continue to demonstrate your faith and trust by following those orders given to you.
It is not posible to know if Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will provide sweetness to the bitterness  in your life ─ but you must believe that it will.
It is not promised that the path of life, often strewn with thorns, will be more smooth as a Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority ─ but you must believe that they will be.
The bonds of sisterhood are strong that faith and trust are blind with no reservations.
Have you this faith and trust in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority?
Pilot to Candidate: Repeat after me: " I have."
Candidate: I have.
Complete silence must prevail for two to three minutes.
Basileus: Each soror in succession will shake the hand of each candidate as an indication of our faith and trust.
Candidates are then conducted to the outer room.
Pilot to Candidates: Your faith and trust have brought you to this point. Do you wish to proceed further?
Candidates: I do.
IV. Fidelity and Love
Setting: On a table covered in another area; white candles, ivy and /or roses. Where possible, there should also be a coat of arms.
Pilot to candidate in ante-room: The significance of this degree in fidelity and love. Do you desire to continue in this work? If so, repeat after me: "I do."
Candidates: I do. Each candidate is given an unlighted white candle.
Pilot knocks at door; Sentinel. answers.
Sentinel: Basileus, there is an alarm at the door.
Basileus: Sentinel, attend the alarm.
Sentinel: It is the Pilot with the candidate.
Basileus: Admit them. Candidates and Pilot are admitted, Candidates stand in a semi-circle in front of the Basileus who stands behind the table.
Basileus: You have passed the degree of obedience and faith. You have shown willingness to accept the ideals and mandates of our organization; you have expressed your faith in the ideals and aims of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Now, are you willing to pledge your allegiance to Alpha Kappa Alpha that you will remain steadfast in your attachment to this Sorority, and promise us your constant effort in its behalf?
Pilot to Candidates: Repeat after me: “I am.”
Candidates: I am.
Candidates kneel and take the following oaths.
I, …, do solemnly promise to keep secret the manner of initiation, pledge and obligations of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
I, …, do solemnly promise always to live up to the ideals of the organization, to stand by Alpha Kappa Alpha in every undertaking, to render assistance to any soror at all times, and to refrain from any expression of ill-will. I shall keep in my heart these words: “Set a guard over my mouth: keep watch over the door of my lips.”
I, …, do dolemnly promise to promote the bands of sisterhood by precept and example.
I, …, do solemnly promise to love and revere the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and to do all in my power to perpetuate the organization.
As each candidate rises, her candle is lighted, a wreath of ivy is placed on het head and the badge is placed upon her over her heart.
Basileus to candidate: Repeat after me: “By affixing my signature in this book, I, …, join the hands and hearts of those Sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha who continually strive to capture a vision fair.” She then signs the Chapter initiation record book.
Basileus: Your vows have been said, and your pledge made. By so doing you have accepted a wonderful challenge that requires your continuous interests, devoted efforts and a lifetime of service.
You are entering the last phase of this sacred hour, and are about to join hands with those Alpha Kappa Alpha women who continually remind themselves of the pledge they made and the loyalties they owe.
May you always remember that you are not only joining with individuals but you are uniting with the Alpha Kappa Alpha. May you also become increasingly aware that the pledges and the vows which you have made before God and in the presence of Alpha Kappa Alpha women here assembled who believe in you and the potentialities which you have for the perpetuation of our sisterhood and the advancement of Alpha Kappa. Alpha are a sacred trust to be honored in such a manner that what Alpha Kappa Alpha is will be in each one of you.
You have chosen Alpha. Kappa Alpha Sorority as your sorority. In Alpha. Kappa Alpha Sorority we merge our endeavors with others and together we raise our standards high for all to see. 
Together we accomplish far more than ever we would as individuals. A backward look at our sorority reveals a history of which we may be proud. That glory is not mine nor yours. It belongs to our predecessors, those women under whose leadership the sorority grew in strength and service.
We are proud of the past. We thank God for the past, but in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority we
must always look forward to a new era of service. For in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, challenging days will be ahead. Our very existence as an illustrious organization demands that we meet the challenges of social, economic, and religious charges with courage and imagination. We, in this sisterhood, are bound together by affection, by common interests, beliefs and inspiration. We welcome you tonight as new sorors, with warm hearts and open arms.
Let us pray.
Prayer: Eternal Spirit, we yearn for a better understanding of spiritual things and a closer walk with Thee, that we may interpret aright the times in which we live. We long to be able to minister, according to Thy will, to People who are troubled and burdened with the cares of the world.
Instill into the hearts of Thy servants each day, fresh confidence in Thy goodness. Deliver us from fear and worry that we may deal confidently with the fears and worries of others. Strengthen our faith and increase our capacity for sympathy and understanding. Make us glad to bear one another's burdens; and be grateful for opportunities of fulfilling thus the law of eternal life. Amen.
Extinguish candles. Pilot collects candles.
New members form circle within sorors' circle.
Basileus: At this time our deepest mysteries, our secret symbols, will be revealed to you. Remember you have already vowed to keep them secret. The sorors who have been designated to explain the symbols now came forward.
Our Motto:
BY CULTURE AND BY MERIT, is taken from words formed from the initial letter of the words, Alpha Kappa Alpha. These words are the Greek words, Askosi, Kai Axiosis.
Our Colors:
Our colors are Apple Green and Salmon Pink signifying Abundance of Life, Womanliness, Fidelity and Love.
Our Symbol:
The Ivy signifies Strength and Endurance.
We wear the symbols of Alpha Kappa Alpha with pride ─ pride that is born of what we are as
individuals, what we have done, and what we are willing to do to keep Alpha Kappa Alpha the great organization it is and must continue to be.
Our Coat of Arms:
The significance of the Coat of Arms is found in the various symbols which taken together mean, through KKnowledge, Culture, Wisdom, Endurance and Justice, fostered by Sisterly Love, we extend service to all mankind.
The clasped hands signify sisterly love.
The dove signifies peace and virginity.
The atlas signifies endurance and strength.
The lamp signifies wisdom and culture.
The scale signifies equality and justice.
The letters "Omega Upsilon" are taken from Greek words which mean Simplicity and Wisdom.
Our Grip:
The grip or handshake has three parts. First, an ordinary handshake, second quickly followed by pressure of thumb, first and second fingers of the giver of the grip. If the grip is recognized by the receiver, it is completed, third part, by pressure of little finger and the third finger, finishing by ordinary handshake. Basileus should see that soror helps each new member to property execute the handshake.
Our Sign of Recognition:
The Alpha Kappa Alpha soror making the test, carelessly places her right hand on her left shoulder as if adjusting her slip strap. The return sign shall be made by placing the right hand at the bend of the left elbow and casually stroking the elbow. The above sign is accompanied by the following conversation: FIRST SOROR: "What do you say?" SECOND SOROR: "Is it wise to say anything?" or if the individuals are so situated that they cannot talk while the test is being made, the conversational test may be made later. The conversation should be continued so as not to attract attention to the test.
Our Pass Word:
The Pass Word shall be changed each biennium. It shall be the name of the last chapter established before the meeting of the Boule. The pass word for this biennium is ….
Basileus then asks new members to step within the larger circle to sing the Initiation Hymn and then repeat together the Pledge.
Basileus: Sorors, for the statement of our Pledge and the singing of our Hymn, we welcome our new sorors into the larger circle which symbolizes the unity which permeates our sisterhood. Soror …, please join us in the larger circle.
Each new soror is named and then takes her place in the larger circle.
Initiation Hymn
Hail Alpha Kappa Alpha dear, we greet thee here tonight,
and may this noble sisterhood be always our delight.
And may this noble sisterhood be always our delight.
And may this noble sisterhood be always our delight.
We love our motto good and true and strive to do the right:
By culture and by merit, too, we'll climb to glory's height,
By culture and by merit, too, we'll climb to glory's height,
By culture and by merit, too, we'll climb to glory's height.
When cares of life o'er take us and our locks are turning gray,
We'll always reverence A.K.A. forever and a day,
We'll always reverence A.K.A. forever and a day,
We'll always reverence A.K.A. forever and a day.
Our Pledge
To thee, O Alpha Kappa Alpha!
We pledge our hearts, our minds, our strength:
To foster their teachings,
Obey thy laws,
And make thee Supreme in Service to all mankind
O, Alpha Kappa Alpha, We greet thee!