Debunking Greek Life Stereotypes
I was told by a good friend that joining a fraternity definitely changes people’s perception of you. When I think about it, it makes sense that he said this. After all, the derogatory “frat guy” stereotypes of binge drinking, hard partying, treating women poorly and paying for friends are all too common in the minds of most people who are college-aged and beyond in the 21st century.
But as a proud member of Pi Kappa Alpha, I can tell you that what is seldom mentioned is how these “frat guys” and sorority women grow from their Greek life experiences. The skills they will develop, the poise they will cultivate and the contacts they will make are all ignored in favor of focusing on the sensational behavior of a few individuals in the Greek life system.
This minor blemish hemorrhages into a major problem when people assume the actions of a few represent the actions of the majority. The reality is that most of those who speak negatively about Greek life have never been a part of Greek life.
The reality also is that students who have decided to affiliate with a “traditional” social, secret, Greek-letter organization tend to be bright, motivated and articulate young men and women. These same students seem to have a bent for getting the most value out of their finite collegiate years and are often the students who go on to have the greatest amount of success, both in the classroom and after graduation.
In honor of the fantastic value-added experience that is fraternity or sorority membership, here are several common stereotypes about Greek life I will debunk:
Being in a fraternity or sorority (or pledging one) will hurt my grades.
Au contraire, my friend. Fraternities and sororities alike have scholastic standards set by their national headquarters that each individual chapter is compelled to uphold and follow. This means each member is required to maintain a minimum GPA that is almost always higher than the campus average.
Many fraternities and sororities hold mandatory library study hours and provide additional scholastic resources and academic support systems for members who are struggling to meet academic benchmarks. Most importantly, being in a fraternity or sorority entitles you to network and pick the brains of all your brothers and sisters, many of whom have diverse academic backgrounds and have taken the courses on campus you are now taking and thus can offer insightful tips on how to efficiently ace the course.
I would be paying for my friends.
The reality is that you must pay dues to join almost any reputable organization on the face of the earth. Many organizations on our wonderful campus, from the Honors Student Organization to the Ram Rugby Cub, have dues.
Most fraternity and sorority dues go toward the day-to-day operations of the local chapter and the national headquarters, fund sporting and social events and pay for the house, if applicable. The semester dues are very reasonable across the board at Angelo State, especially when weighed against the benefits of joining. Additionally, all the chapters at Angelo State offer payment plans and some offer scholarships that fully subsidize your semester dues.
In summation, remember that paying dues does not equate paying for your friends. Rather, it is ensuring that your chapter stays on campus and succeeds so others in the future can enjoy the experience you have.
Hazing is a reality in all fraternities and sororities.
This is a popular myth propagated by unfortunate incidents that have occurred and continue to occur throughout the nation.
In recent decades, every national fraternity and sorority of any relevance has passed rules strictly denouncing hazing. This, coupled with the harsh reality that no action is unfailingly discrete with the advent of social media and the Internet, means that fraternities and sororities everywhere are increasingly hesitant to continue a tradition that has no place in a Greek organization.
At Angelo State, our fraternities and sororities are looking to cultivate leaders, not to unduly spank students. There have been no judicial hearings on hazing through the Greek Life Office in recent memory, a clear indicator that hazing is more a Hollywood myth and relic of the past than a current reality.
Fraternity guys are all racist, chauvinistic and misogynist.
This is simply not true. Every chapter here at Angelo State welcomes duly qualified students of all races and creeds. Fraternities and sororities have a reputation as a bastion of the white and affluent, punitively excluding those who don’t fit the mold. This is an undeserved rap, especially at Angelo State.
Though there are no traditionally African-American (NPHC) fraternities on our campus, students identifying themselves with a minority ethnicity will find plenty of peers thriving and feeling right at home in our fraternities and sororities alike.
As for the latter point, fraternity men pride themselves on being gentlemen and treating members of the opposite sex with due respect. Chivalry is not dead; it simply is residing within the value system of fraternity men across the nation.
Joining a fraternity or sorority is an excellent way to set myself up for success after college.
I had to end this post with a truth.
Statistics show that students who affiliate tend to succeed at a high level both during and after college. The North-American Interfraternity Conference reports that 44 percent of U.S. presidents are affiliated with a national, social Greek-letter organization.
The president of our university was in a fraternity at ASU in his undergrad years. A disproportionate number of legislators in Congress and Fortune 500 executives were involved in Greek life. Ambitious individuals tend to surround themselves with peers who have congruent levels of success in their future. Often these individuals congregate in the chapter rooms of fraternities and sororities across the nation.
Remember, your undergraduate years don’t last forever. If you are considering joining, remember each semester you delay is 12.5 percent of your collegiate career gone, never to be recouped. Don’t let the numerous stereotypes and bad feelings spread by non-Greek students dissuade you. Stay the course!
For more information about joining a fraternity or sorority at ASU, contact Jenn Johnson, Greek Life coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 325-942-2062.