College Fraternities


College fraternities have always struck me as being an organization of
guys who spend their time drinking beer and having their "social gatherings"
(parties). Just moving to Austin recently (which is by no doubt a "college
city") has made me want to know more about the sole purpose of these
fraternities. For these reasons I chose to select this culture for my essay.

The definition of a fraternity is defined as " chiefly social
organization of male college students, usually designated by Greek letters".
(Morris 1982:523) This definition is not true to all where most fraternity
members are seen as drunks who accomplish nothing scholastically or socially .
Unfortunately, the definition and portrayal of the people fails to mention the
fact that membership in a fraternity is a life-long experience that helps its
members develop social, organizational, and study skills, and also teaches true,
everlasting friendship. As a matter of fact most of our presidents were
members of a Greek organization.

"The first fraternity was founded for literary and social purposes at
The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on December 5th 1776."
(Klepper 1937:24) Throughout the nineteenth century many new fraternities were
founded, but none of these were permanent. By the end of the nineteenth century
there were over thirty general fraternities in the country.

Today\'s fraternities still have the characteristics of past fraternities.
These characteristics include "a ritual, oaths of fidelity, a grip, a motto, a
badge , friendship and comradeship (Klepper 1937:56) . During membership one
must learn leadership skills. For this reason fraternities embrace these
offices held by members: President, Vice-president, Treasurer, Scribe, etc.
Since membership is seen as a great achievement by other organizations, every
brother must be able to uphold that office at any time.

Organization is a must for every member. Fund raising activities and
community service are priority in every chapter, and each member is required
to take part in these activities as an act of pledge, and a brother. This
helps a member to develop organization and planning. Living together in what is
known as a fraternity house adds to the development of social skills and being
able to live with different kinds of people in different situations.
Fraternities are famous for their social gatherings (parties) which requires
all members to be socially active and also develop social skills.

It is normal for fraternities to organize study groups during the school
year and before exams. Most fraternities keep test files and other study aids
available for the benefit of their members. A lot of members are able to
receive scholarships and awards based on academic excellence, leadership and
personal achievement, this helps members build a better self-esteem.

It is common for fraternity members to stay active after graduating
from college . "It is a positive experience for the graduate member to keep in
contact with new and old members of his chapter There is no better way to keep
young than to associate with young people." (Abramson 1995) The number of
alumni can range from a few dozen to several thousand. There is a clear feeling
of comradeship not only within the fraternity but between all members of
Greek organizations.

In a field study of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity from Florida
International University, Brian Abramson found that you can find a catologue of
services which that organization provides for the benefit of the greater
community through service projects it conducts every semester. Every fraternity
has its own special public service projects. For example Tau Epsilon Phi
participates in "Bowling for Kids Sake" every spring, a tradition that began
several years ago. To keep the feeling of brotherhood every member must be
trustworthy and be able to trust every one else, which makes the bond of
brotherhood even stronger.(Abramson 1995)

Unfortunately a lot of people overlook fraternities because of the ever-
present rumors about hazing. Hazing is an action taken or situation created
intentionally to produce mental and or physical discomfort, emberassment,
harassment, or ridicule.(Fraternity Executive Commission 1937) "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." (Nykolaizsyn:1996:48) He
goes on to point out that "Greek life is not just about partying and drinking ,
it helps build character, self-esteem, and life-
friendships(Nykolaizsyn:1996:12)

Category: Social Issues