As a whole the collegiate Greek system has a very poor reputation in America and abroad. The myth is that fraternities and sororities have one goal in mind and that is to party. Please see Animal House should you not know what I mean.
Contrary to popular belief, Greek life is much more than partying. I can speak from experience having spent four years building a fraternity from the ground up. My fraternity experience can simply be described as the best experience of my life. In four short years, I created something I am undoubtedly proud of, created the best friendships I could ask for, and connected with amazing people all over the country (and Canada!). Here are the reasons people should look differently at fraternities (and Greek life in general):
- 1. Philanthropy/Community Service: Greek life puts a high demand on its members to do work for the community and to raise money. Not only is it a great thing to do but think about it. You belong to a community that is constantly being hawked over by school administrators, often times being vilified. So what do you do? You prove them wrong and you do that by holding fundraisers and doing community service. For my fraternity, I was in charge of our philanthropy and community service and I had my brothers all over the place getting work done. The best moment for me was having an elderly woman invite me to Thanksgiving dinner with her and her son because I helped rake the leaves from her yard.
- 2. Brotherhood or Sisterhood: Far and large, the best thing about being in a fraternity or sorority is the friendships you will make. I’m telling you from experience that there will be people who you flat out wouldn’t like and would never even try to talk to. Being in a Greek organization, however, forces you to cooperate and work with different personalities and viewpoints. This makes you a stronger person. The ideals and values that attracted you to the organization in the first place begin what can become a great friendship between two highly unlikely people. One example, one of my best friends from my fraternity was probably my least favorite person when we started my freshman year of college. Over the four years I spent with him, I grew to know him and respect his opinions. We were forced to work so closely together that I began to understand him and his views. That is true brotherhood and friendship – when you can respect and value differing opinions in a positive and constructive way.
- 3. Opportunity: A lot of people advocate the networking opportunities that Greek life has to offer. They are right, there are countless opportunities. Most fraternities and sororities have national or international conferences in which networking are promoted. I went to one and met so many amazing people and connected with all of them. You can get help with the simplest things. I once was able to call a friend of mine who put me in touch with a chapter of my fraternity in New York City. I needed a place to stay in Manhattan for two days and that’s just what I got. Even more so, when my father was laid off, I sent his resume to someone influential I met from my fraternity and he sent Dad’s resume around to his business friends. Keep in mind; he has never met my father or anything. Your brothers and sisters act just like your blood relatives would. They just want to help in the best way they can.
- 4. Having Fun: Contrary to the popular Animal House belief, fraternities and sororities have some of the safest parties in my opinion. Why, do you ask? For a very simple reason – scrutiny. School officials and police officers scrutinize Greek life more often than other groups. They bear the burden of a stereotype that portrays them as party animals that just get drunk and destroy things. Because of these stereotypes, Greek organizations have designated sober members for every single event. Most groups have sober members designated for every night of the weekend to give sober rides when needed. Greek organizations are very cognizant of the issues surrounding college binge drinking and they take it very seriously. Risk management is a very high priority in any Greek organization. That is not to say that Greek organizations don’t have fun. We just do it as responsibly as possible.
- 5. Memories: This goes hand-in-hand with all of the aforementioned reasons. The best memories I have from college involved at least one of my fraternity brothers. I have a million and one memories of just having fun, a million more of my brothers driving me crazy, and a whole bunch of touching moments. I’ve since graduated, albeit very recently, but those memories won’t fade and neither will the people. I think the best memory I have is from our most recent Relay for Life. For the event, I was a volunteer coordinator. Not only did most of my 200+ volunteers disappear, but it was also set to rain. My brothers became a go to source of manpower for the Relay for Life planning committee. On top of that, my aunt, who is a survivor, came with four of my cousins. Three of those cousins are adopted from a more distant relative to me. My brothers not only helped as volunteers but they took care of and played with my cousins like they were family. They got my aunt involved in our bake sale and treated them with respect, mostly because they’re awesome.
If you find qualms with aspects of Greek life, I don’t fault you for that. There are problems with every organization, Greek or not. My time spent in a fraternity honestly changed my life for the better. It was difficult at times but more rewarding than any experience I’ve had thus far.