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    College Fraternities Essay (1384 words)

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    A fraternity, as defined by the The American Heritage Dictionary is “achiefly social organization of male college students, usually designated byGreek letters. “(pg. 523) This definition, however, is very limited and leavesplenty of space for short sighted people to believe the stereotype conveyed bythe popular media, where fraternity members are depicted as drunks whoaccomplish nothing either scholastically or socially.

    Unfortunately, both thisdefinition and media portrayals fail to mention the fact that membership in afraternity 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 longtradition of high academic achievement, and most of our nation’s presidentswere members of a Greek association. According to Irving Klepper, the first fraternity (Phi Beta Kappa) wasfounded for “social and literary purposes” at the College of William and Maryin Williamsburg, Virginia on December 5th 1776. After half a century ofexistence, it became and has since remained a scholarship honor society. Throughout the nineteenth century, many new fraternities were founded, but noneof these were permanent.

    Then, in 1825, the Kappa Alpha Fraternity (now KappaAlpha Society) was born at Union College. Two years later, Sigma Phi and DeltaPhi had been founded at the same college, constituting the so-called UnionTriad which was, in a large measure, the pattern for the American Fraternitysystem. By the end of the nineteenth century there were over thirty generalfraternities in this country (pg. 18). Today’s fraternities still have all the characteristics and precepts ofthe their past fraternities: “the charm and mystery of secrecy, a ritual, oathsof fidelity, a grip, a motto, a badge, a background of high idealism, a strongtie of friendship and comradeship, and urge for sharing its values throughnationwide expansion.

    ” (Klepper pg. 18) In addition, today’s fraternities helptheir 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 itembraces different offices (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Scribe,etc. . ) which are held by its members. These offices closely resemble the onesof real business.

    Additionally, since membership in a fraternity is seen as agreat achievement by other Greek associations’ members, every brother must beable to uphold that office at any time. Organization is a must for every member of a fraternity. Fund raisingactivities 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 theseactivities as a pledge, a brother and an alumnus. This helps individualswithin the group to develop organization and planning.

    In addition, since thefraternity might be located in a house, each brother must learn householdorganization 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 whenthe occasion calls for it. This helps fraternity members develop very strongsocial skills. Since the act of one member reflects over the acts of all theothers, self-control and awareness of actions are mandatory. In addition, whenthe brothers live in fraternity houses, this adds to the development of socialskills in the way that a member must be able to deal and live with differentkinds 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 manydifferent school subjects.

    It is normal for fraternities to organize studygroups regularly during the school year and especially before exams. In addition, members might also use the opinion and advice of othermembers about the faculty in their favor, and most fraternities keep test filesand other such study aids available for the benefit of their members. Mostfraternity members are also eligible to receive a number of differentscholarships and awards based on academic excellence, leadership, and personalachievement which can contribute to both the resume and the self-esteem of theperson receiving such an honor. Fraternities are also well known for their support toward theircommunity. In fact, other than the usual, chapter-run projects, many chaptersrequire their associate members to organize and participate in their owncommunity service project before they can be initiated into full membership. This helps the fraternity to enhance their image, increase their popularityand their members’ awareness toward the community.

    It is common for some fraternity members to stay active aftergraduating from college. In this way they can help the chapter in many waysand especially as “advisor of the real world. ” It is also a positiveexperience for the graduate member, who will be able to keep in contact withthe new and old members of his chapter. As Sidney S. Suntag wrote “I know ofno 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 canalways count on them, since the spirit of fraternal brotherhood never dies. Itis common for fraternities to build their houses and fund their activities withthe support of their alumni. The number of alumni for a given fraternity inany urban area can range from a few dozen to several thousand.

    But the most important gift a fraternity can offer is a true andeverlasting friendship that transcends the normal bonds between friends andties them together as brothers for life. It is something no other organizationcan offer, and the bond that is formed between fraternity brothers is feltthroughout the whole organization and not just local chapters. This explainswhy, when greeks of the same fraternity meet is felt like a reunion betweenblood brothers. Clearly, a feeling of comradeship is present not only within eachfraternity, but between all of the members of Greek organizations. This canonly lead to positive relations with the Greek community of a college oruniversity, which is always fairly numerous at those institutions which haveGreek organizations. As Brian Abramson stated in his interview, “If you look at any Greekorganization at Florida International University, or any other College orUniversity, you can find a catalogue of services which that organizationprovides for the benefit of the greater community through the service projectswhich it conducts every semester.

    ” Tau Epsilon Phi, for example, participatesin Bowling for Kids’ Sake every Spring, a tradition which began several yearsago. Every fraternity has its own special philanthropy, as well as otherpublic service projects which that fraternity takes part in from time to time. In fact, cooperating in public service not only provides the members of thebrotherhood with valuable connections in the community, but it also serves tostrengthen the bonds of brotherhood which hold the members together. To keep true to the feeling of brotherhood in a fraternity, everymember must be trustworthy and at the same time must be able to trust everyother 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 popularstereotype of fraternity members.

    Hazing, as defined by the Fraternity Executive Association is “Anyaction taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternitypremises to produce mental, or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassmentor ridicule. “(pg. 48) As John P. Nykolaiszyn puts it, “If anyone is caughthazing, not only can fines be imposed upon the individuals, but conviction andeven jail time could result.

    Organizations which practice hazing also run therisk of losing their charter and being closed down. As Mr. Nykolaiszyn states in his letter to the editor, “While someorganizations 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 pointout the fact that, “Greek life is not just about partying and drinking.

    Greeklife helps to build character, self-esteem and life long friendships. “(12) Itis indeed very sad that many people are stuck with the “Animal House” view offraternities and avoid looking into what fraternities are really all about. Works CitedAbramson, Brian D. Personal Interview. 1 Apr. 1996.

    Fraternity ExecutivesAssociation “Statement of position on Hazing and Pre-initiation Activities” Theportals of Tau Epsilon Phi Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia1937Klepper, Irving The portals of Tau Epsilon Phi Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia 1937Morris, William, ed. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts 1982Nykolaiszyn, John P.

    “Hazing: Greeks get a bad rap. ” The Beacon Feb. 13th 1996:12. Category: English

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