College Fraternaties Essay, Research Paper
College FraternatiesA fraternity, as defined by the The American HeritageDictionary is “a chiefly social organization of male collegestudents, usually designated by Greek letters.”(pg. 523) Thisdefinition, however, is very limited and leaves plenty of spacefor short sighted people to believe the stereotype conveyed bythe popular media, where fraternity members are depicted asdrunks who accomplish nothing either scholastically orsocially. Unfortunately, both this definition and mediaportrayals fail to mention the fact that membership in afraternity is a life-long experience that helps its membersdevelop social, organizational, and study skills duringcollege, and that teaches true, everlasting friendship. As amatter of fact, fraternities have a long tradition of highacademic achievement, and most of our nation’s presidents weremembers of a Greek association. According to Irving Klepper, the first fraternity (PhiBeta Kappa) was founded for “social and literary purposes” atthe College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia onDecember 5th 1776. After half a century of existence, it became and has since remained a scholarship honor society. Throughout the nineteenth century, many new fraternities werefounded, but none of these were permanent. Then, in 1825, theKappa Alpha Fraternity (now Kappa Alpha Society) was born atUnion College. Two years later, Sigma Phi and Delta Phi hadbeen founded at the same college, constituting the so-calledUnion Triad which was, in a large measure, the pattern for theAmerican Fraternity system. By the end of the nineteenthcentury there were over thirty general fraternities in thiscountry (pg. 18).Today’s fraternities still have all the characteristicsand precepts of the their past fraternities: “the charm andmystery of secrecy, a ritual, oaths of fidelity, a grip, amotto, a badge, a background of high idealism, a strong tie offriendship and comradeship, and urge for sharing its valuesthrough nationwide expansion.” (Klepper pg. 18) In addition,today’s fraternities help their members develop many skillswhich are used in and out of college. During membership in a fraternity, one must learnleadership skills, because the chapter has to be run in abusiness-like manner and because it embraces different offices(President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Scribe, etc..) which areheld by its members. These offices closely resemble the onesof real business. Additionally, since membership in afraternity is seen as a great achievement by other Greekassociations’ members, every brother must be able to upholdthat office at any time. Organization is a must for every member of a fraternity. Fund raising activities and community service always have ahigh priority in every chapter, and each member is required toorganize and/or take part in many of these activities as apledge, a brother and an alumnus. This helps individualswithin the group to develop organization and planning. Inaddition, since the fraternity might be located in a house,each brother must learn household organization for his brotherswell being. Fraternities are famous for their energetic socialgatherings (parties) which require all of their members to besocially active and outspoken when the occasion calls for it.This helps fraternity members develop very strong socialskills. Since the act of one member reflects over the acts ofall the others, self-control and awareness of actions aremandatory. In addition, when the brothers live in fraternityhouses, this adds to the development of social skills in theway that a member must be able to deal and live with differentkinds of people in different situations.Since there are people of different scholastic levels in afraternity, the member of the fraternity have access to a greatdeal of knowledge on many different school subjects. It isnormal for fraternities to organize study groups regularlyduring the school year and especially before exams. In addition, members might also use the opinion and adviceof other members about the faculty in their favor, and mostfraternities keep test files and other such study aidsavailable for the benefit of their members. Most fraternitymembers are also eligible to receive a number of differentscholarships and awards based on academic excellence,leadership, and personal achievement which can contribute toboth the resume and the self-esteem of the person receivingsuch an honor. Fraternities are also well known for their support toward
their community. In fact, other than the usual, chapter-runprojects, many chapters require their associate members toorganize and participate in their own community service projectbefore they can be initiated into full membership. This helpsthe fraternity to enhance their image, increase theirpopularity and their members’ awareness toward the community. It is common for some fraternity members to stay activeafter graduating from college. In this way they can help thechapter in many ways and especially as “advisor of the realworld.” It is also a positive experience for the graduatemember, who will be able to keep in contact with the new andold members of his chapter. As Sidney S. Suntag wrote “I knowof no better way to keep young than to associate with youngpeople”(pg. 15). Even if some members are not able to remain active, thechapter can always count on them, since the spirit of fraternalbrotherhood never dies. It is common for fraternities to buildtheir houses and fund their activities with the support oftheir alumni. The number of alumni for a given fraternity inany urban area can range from a few dozen to several thousand. But the most important gift a fraternity can offer is atrue and everlasting friendship that transcends the normalbonds between friends and ties them together as brothers forlife. It is something no other organization can offer, and thebond that is formed between fraternity brothers is feltthroughout the whole organization and not just local chapters. This explains why, when greeks of the same fraternity meet isfelt like a reunion between blood brothers. Clearly, a feeling of comradeship is present not onlywithin each fraternity, but between all of the members of Greekorganizations. This can only lead to positive relations withthe Greek community of a college or university, which is alwaysfairly numerous at those institutions which have Greekorganizations. As Brian Abramson stated in his interview, “If you look atany Greek organization at Florida International University, orany other College or University, you can find a catalogue ofservices which that organization provides for the benefit ofthe greater community through the service projects which itconducts every semester.” Tau Epsilon Phi, for example,participates in Bowling for Kids’ Sake every Spring, atradition which began several years ago. Every fraternity hasits own special philanthropy, as well as other public serviceprojects which that fraternity takes part in from time to time. In fact, cooperating in public service not only provides themembers of the brotherhood with valuable connections in thecommunity, but it also serves to strengthen the bonds ofbrotherhood which hold the members together.To keep true to the feeling of brotherhood in afraternity, every member must be trustworthy and at the sametime must be able to trust every other member which makes thebond of brotherhood even stronger. Unfortunately, a lot ofpeople overlook fraternities during college because of theominous, ever-present rumors about hazing. This image is alsoa part of the popular stereotype of fraternity members. Hazing, as defined by the Fraternity Executive Associationis “Any action taken or situation created, intentionally,whether on or off fraternity premises to produce mental, orphysical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment orridicule.”(pg. 48) As John P. Nykolaiszyn puts it, “If anyoneis caught hazing, not only can fines be imposed upon theindividuals, but conviction and even jail time could result. Organizations which practice hazing also run the risk of losingtheir charter and being closed down. As Mr. Nykolaiszyn states in his letter to the editor,”While some organizations may choose to haze and humiliate thepeople who try to rush them, that is in no way an accurateportrayal of all Greeks.” He goes on to point out the factthat, “Greek life is not just about partying and drinking.Greek life helps to build character, self-esteem and life longfriendships.”(12) It is indeed very sad that many people arestuck with the “Animal House” view of fraternities and avoidlooking into what fraternities are really all about.
Abramson, Brian D. Personal Interview. 1 Apr. 1996. Fraternity Executives Association “Statement ofposition on Hazing and Pre-initiation Activities” The portals of Tau Epsilon Phi Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia 1937Klepper, Irving The portals of Tau Epsilon PhiTau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia1937Morris, William, ed. The American Heritage Dictionary of theEnglish Language. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,Massachusetts 1982Nykolaiszyn, John P. “Hazing: Greeks get a bad rap.”The Beacon Feb. 13th 1996: 12.