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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 catalogue 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 everyone 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, embarrassment, 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)
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