College Fraternities


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.
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