Fraternities And Society Essay

A fraternity, as defined by the The American Heritage Dictionary is “a
chiefly social organization of male college students, usually designated by
Greek letters.”(pg. 523) This definition, however, is very limited and
leaves plenty of space for short sighted people to believe the stereotype
conveyed by the popular media, where fraternity members are depicted as drunks
who accomplish nothing either scholastically or socially. Unfortunately, both
this definition and media portrayals fail to mention the fact that membership in
a fraternity is a life-long experience that helps its members develop social,
organizational, and study skills during college, and that teaches true,
everlasting friendship. As a matter of fact, fraternities have a long tradition
of high academic achievement, and most of our nation’s presidents were members
of a Greek association. According to Irving Klepper, the first fraternity (Phi
Beta Kappa) was founded for “social and literary purposes” at the
College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on December 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 were founded, but none of these were permanent. Then, in 1825, the
Kappa Alpha Fraternity (now Kappa Alpha Society) was born at Union College. Two
years later, Sigma Phi and Delta Phi had been founded at the same college,
constituting the so-called Union Triad which was, in a large measure, the
pattern for the American Fraternity system. By the end of the nineteenth century
there were over thirty general fraternities in this country (pg. 18). Today’s
fraternities still have all the characteristics and precepts of the their past
fraternities: “the charm and mystery of secrecy, a ritual, oaths of
fidelity, a grip, a motto, a badge, a background of high idealism, a strong tie
of friendship and comradeship, and urge for sharing its values through
nationwide expansion.” (Klepper pg. 18) In addition, today’s fraternities
help their members develop many skills which are used in and out of college.

We will write a custom essay sample on
Fraternities And Society Essay
or any similar topic only for you
Order now

During membership in a fraternity, one must learn leadership skills, because the
chapter has to be run in a business-like manner and because it embraces
different offices (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Scribe, etc..) which
are held by its members. These offices closely resemble the ones of real
business. Additionally, since membership in a fraternity is seen as a great
achievement by other Greek associations’ members, every brother must be able to
uphold that office at any time. Organization is a must for every member of a
fraternity. Fund raising activities and community service always have a high
priority in every chapter, and each member is required to organize and/or take
part in many of these activities as a pledge, a brother and an alumnus. This
helps individuals within the group to develop organization and planning. In
addition, since the fraternity might be located in a house, each brother must
learn household organization for his brothers well being. Fraternities are
famous for their energetic social gatherings (parties) which require all of
their members to be socially active and outspoken when the occasion calls for
it. This helps fraternity members develop very strong social skills. Since the
act of one member reflects over the acts of all the others, self-control and
awareness of actions are mandatory. In addition, when the brothers live in
fraternity houses, this adds to the development of social skills in the way that
a member must be able to deal and live with different kinds of people in
different situations. Since there are people of different scholastic levels in a
fraternity, the member of the fraternity have access to a great deal of
knowledge on many different school subjects. It is normal for fraternities to
organize study groups regularly during the school year and especially before
exams. In addition, members might also use the opinion and advice of other
members about the faculty in their favor, and most fraternities keep test files
and other such study aids available for the benefit of their members. Most
fraternity members are also eligible to receive a number of different
scholarships and awards based on academic excellence, leadership, and personal
achievement which can contribute to both the resume and the self-esteem of the
person receiving such an honor. Fraternities are also well known for their
support toward their community. In fact, other than the usual, chapter-run
projects, many chapters require their associate members to organize and
participate in their own community service project before they can be initiated
into full membership. This helps the fraternity to enhance their image, increase
their popularity and their members’ awareness toward the community. It is common
for some fraternity members to stay active after graduating from college. In
this way they can help the chapter in many ways and especially as “advisor
of the real world.” It is also a positive experience for the graduate
member, who will be able to keep in contact with the new and old members of his
chapter. As Sidney S. Suntag wrote “I know of no better way to keep young
than to associate with young people”(pg. 15). Even if some members are not
able to remain active, the chapter can always count on them, since the spirit of
fraternal brotherhood never dies. It is common for fraternities to build their
houses and fund their activities with the support of their alumni. The number of
alumni for a given fraternity in any urban area can range from a few dozen to
several thousand. But the most important gift a fraternity can offer is a true
and everlasting friendship that transcends the normal bonds between friends and
ties them together as brothers for life. It is something no other organization
can offer, and the bond that is formed between fraternity brothers is felt
throughout the whole organization and not just local chapters. This explains
why, when greeks of the same fraternity meet is felt like a reunion between
blood brothers. Clearly, a feeling of comradeship is present not only within
each fraternity, but between all of the members of Greek organizations. This can
only lead to positive relations with the Greek community of a college or
university, which is always fairly numerous at those institutions which have
Greek organizations. As Brian Abramson stated in his interview, “If you
look at any Greek organization at Florida International University, or any other
College or University, you can find a catalogue of services which that
organization provides for the benefit of the greater community through the
service projects which it conducts every semester.” Tau Epsilon Phi, for
example, participates in Bowling for Kids’ Sake every Spring, a tradition which
began several years ago. Every fraternity has its own special philanthropy, as
well as other public service projects which that fraternity takes part in from
time to time. In fact, cooperating in public service not only provides the
members of the brotherhood with valuable connections in the community, but it
also serves to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood which hold the members
together. To keep true to the feeling of brotherhood in a fraternity, every
member must be trustworthy and at the same time must be able to trust every
other member which makes the bond of brotherhood even stronger. Unfortunately, a
lot of people overlook fraternities during college because of the ominous,
ever-present rumors about hazing. This image is also a part of the popular
stereotype of fraternity members. Hazing, as defined by the Fraternity Executive
Association is “Any action taken or situation created, intentionally,
whether on or off fraternity premises to produce mental, or physical discomfort,
embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”(pg. 48) As John P. Nykolaiszyn puts
it, “If anyone is caught hazing, not only can fines be imposed upon the
individuals, but conviction and even jail time could result. Organizations which
practice hazing also run the risk of losing their charter and being closed down.

As Mr. Nykolaiszyn states in his letter to the editor, “While some
organizations may choose to haze and humiliate the people who try to rush them,
that is in no way an accurate portrayal of all Greeks.” He goes on to point
out the fact that, “Greek life is not just about partying and drinking.

Greek life helps to build character, self-esteem and life long
friendships.”(12) It is indeed very sad that many people are stuck with the
“Animal House” view of fraternities and avoid looking into what
fraternities are really all about.

Abramson, Brian D. Personal Interview. 1 Apr. 1996. Fraternity Executives
Association “Statement of position on Hazing and Pre-initiation
Activities” The portals of Tau Epsilon Phi Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Atlanta, Georgia 1937 Klepper, Irving The portals of Tau Epsilon Phi Tau Epsilon
Phi Fraternity, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia 1937 Morris, William, ed. The American
Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,
Massachusetts 1982 Nykolaiszyn, John P. “Hazing: Greeks get a bad
rap.” The Beacon Feb. 13th 1996: 12.


Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out