Frat Life: Problems, Misconceptions, and Revelations
Jul 14, 2001
The Bottom Line Some people are better off with it, some people are better off without it, regardless College will be a wonderful time for everyone.
Frats are for people who have to buy their friends.
Frats are for guys who came to College only for girls and beer.
If you join a Fraternity you lose your individuality.
Frat boys think they are better than everyone else.
I have slowly grown tired of all the negativity and controversy surrounding Fraternities. I am here to put to rest many concepts one Greek Life that I feel to be false representations of what they are really about. I, being a one certain individual known to you as Justin Way, am a completely level-headed young man, as I see most arguments from both sides and am well educated that to make an argument that is successful, I must clearly show an understanding of all angles involved.
Let me begin with this.
From the first day I began to think about that far off time that I would on day go to College, for some reason always labled the idea that I would join a Fraternity as a fact. I really cannot explain to you why, it was just something I wanted to do. I never thought of the advantages, the disadvanteges of being a member. I didn't put much thought into why, it was just simply I am. Maybe it stemmed from my Dad's experiences as a Pi Kappa Alpha at Auburn University (the same institution that I now attend). He always had fond stories of brotherhood, pledgeship, and he still kept in touch with many of his brothers from the mid-sixties when he attended Auburn.
To those unfamiliar to the Greek life system, I will explain Fraternity Rush (the process of visiting different Fraternities you are interested in, and receiving a "bid", which is an invitation to join). Although Rush is different at various other schools (and Sorority Rush is very different from Fraternity Rush), at Auburn the process is fairly unorganized, and ridiculously nerve-wrecking.
I will start off by saying that I feel Rush is a terrible system that is completely unfair to many individuals. Theoretically Rush begins in the summer before fall semester. This is "Informal" Rush. Various summer parties are held and upcoming freshman are invited to attend these parties to meet brothers, and get a feeling for the Fraternity system. Bids are given out here, but generally not many. The problem with summer rush is that it is rarely attended by people who aren't familiar with people who are already in the Fraternity. For example we had a Rush party in Atlanta the first weekend in July, we gave out seven bids; five accepted, of those five, three were related to someone in the Fraternity and the other two were friends of those three. The other two extended that were held (means you do not accept or decline, you just are given a chance to wait to make a decision), were people who were also friends with other members of the Fraternity, one of them was not sure if it was what he wanted to do, and the other wasn't entirely sure if he would be attending Auburn yet.
The case in point is that summer rush parties are the best chance to meet people and make an impression on a fraternity, but it is very stressful on a Rushee who doesn't know anyone in the Fraternity prior to attending.
Fall Rush or formal Rush, is where the majority of Bids are handed out. It is a ridiculous asessment, that I hate. I find it quite impossible to make a firm judgement on a person after only meeting them for an hour or so, sometimes less. Mind you when most Fraternities Rush (atleast ours) it is NOT about, "Oh this guy would look cool wearing our letters!" It's about does this kid honestly fit into our system, would he enjoy himself, would he add a new element to our Fraternity, and could he learn about himself from others and likewise have others learn about themselves. That is what Rush is about.
I hated Rush. I received two bids, one from Pi Kappa Alpha, and another from Sigma Chi. Those were really the only two Fraternities that I rushed, because early on in the process I went to a Sigma Chi summer Rush party and got to know and like the guys a lot. Pi Kappa Alpha (or Pike) I rushed because it was my dad's chapter and he really wanted me to give it a chance. From the moment I met the Sigma Chi's (Chi is pronounced Kye), I felt at home and new it was a place for me.
They were diverse, and I enjoy diversity, all other Fraternities on campus seemed to fit a certain stereotype. Pike was all big guys who worked out played football, etc. they wouldn't stop asking me what sports I played in High School, and I repeatedly had to tell the story of how I sacked Eli Manning (Peyton's younger brother) in a Middle School football game once. Kappa Alpha's were your rednecks, cowboy boots, pickup trucks, country music, etc. Sigma Nu's were your pretty boys, Sigma Alpha Epsilon's were the rich kids...anyways the point of naming these different Fraternities and what they came off as to me is to prove the point that everyone can find their niche in Greek Life.
You are garaunteed to fit into atleast one Fraternity, there will always be one place you will come into and be comfortable, and sometimes that can be the problem with Rush. If you extend yourself too much at one particular Fraternity, and don't Rush others to fall back on, if you don't get a bid for the one you've been counting on it is a dissapointing situation.
I have seen many kids walk out of our house the last day of Rush without receiving a bid, and they have their heads down in sadness, and it really breaks my heart. The point is you always have to keep your options open, Fraternities don't like to hear they are the only one you are rushing, because if a Fraternity is truly good, then it should feel confident that you can go off and look at any other Fraternity on campus and come back to them because they are the best. That should be every Frat's mindset.
Why I chose Sigma Chi?
I upset my dad a bit in this decision, and I admit to have him initiate me if I pledged Pike would have been special, but I was at home as soon as I entered the Sigma Chi doors. We are known for an ecletic mix of people from way up north, people from way down south, fun guys, smart guys, and I felt there was something I could learn from each and every person in the Fraternity. I wanted a bid so bad from Sigma Chi, not because I wanted to be "cool", but because I wanted to be apart of something bigger than me, I wanted it badly. On September 11th, 2000 I received my Bid from Gamma Sigma Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity at Auburn University and I graciously accepted it.
A critical point of attack for Greek Like naysayers, the Fraternity pledgeship has been accused for things as miniscule as emberassment, all the way to death. While I cannot vouch for all Fraternities, I can give you some insite into my Pledgeship and what it meant to me.
First of all we had the longest and what I believe to be the most difficult pledgeship on campus, it began September 11th, 2000, and ended on our initiation day on February 3rd, 2001.
It was a mental, struggle, and endurance test, and it truly changed my life forever.
You may be saying to yourself...oh it changed you forever because of the sick and twisted things you did! You Frat boy bastard! NO. I matured more in those months than I had in my entire life.
The most difficult thing about pledgeship?
Sober driving was the most time consuming and important element of our trials. It was not only important that we did this to make the brothers happy, it was important that we did a good job of this to save lives. Every social that was held, every bandparty, etc. We were there to sober drive for hours. At times we would find ourselves on Duty from 6:00pm till 4:00am. Yes it was difficult but it was worth it.
Twice a week would would have beeper duty. On a given day we would be handed a beeper that all of our 113 brothers had the number to. At any given moment from 6:00pm to 6:00am we could be paged to give a safe ride home, anytime, anyplace. Sometimes beeper was slow, and we would get a lot of rest, other times it was backed up and a miserable experience of non-stop driving all night long.
But when you put things into perspective, since I did my duty for the rest of my College career I can have a safe ride when I need one.
Pledgeship is not about embarassment, yelling, hazing...it is about bringing a group of forty or so individuals with different tempraments, talents, and convictions together. It is about forming bonds that will last the rest of my lifetime. Some of you may call it "buying friends" but I call it having 40 people that you have spent so much time with, and love so much that whenever you need a favor you could call anyone one of them at any given time and they would jump to their feet to help you.
It's the best time of your life that you would never want to do again.
There are problems.
Although my experiences were positive, I am well aware some Fraternities handle themselves different. Hazing can be detremental, and too serious. People can be seriously injured or even killed. I wish there was something I could do about establishments that violate these things, but its hard, I have noticed though slowly hazing has cut-back, some people have learned their lessons. The most important thing is for pledges who think things have gone too far, need to speak up to people at the University. Yes that would be a difficult thing to do, but its really the only way to catch these Fraternities that are going too far.
Yet certain things that come under attack such as Greek Life people dying of alcohol is a bit undefined. For every student in the Greek system who dies of alcohol, I can assure you someone who wasn't died as well. It's just that Greek alcohol deaths get more press, because it has become a unfairly accepted fact that every Fraternity is much like Jim Belushi and his Animal House buddies.
Like I said though everyplace is different.
Frats dont do anything with our time but drink?
At our Derby Days week long event, we raised $20,000 for the Children's Miracle network, if that isn't accomplishing much tell me what is?
Thats what I find so special about this system I am a part of. Boys 18 to 22 turn themselves into men. People who were just let out into the world on their own, find themselves in charge of running a large house, paying bills, appeasing the University, and raising money for charitys, and having a good time doing it.
So here is my bottom line.
Don't attack the Greek System unless you have a good reason too, and don't attack the entire Greek System unless your sure everyone is doing it. College kids will be College kids, and accidents will happen inside and outside of the Greek System. The change from being under your parents wing, to completely free is a difficult one, and we can only hope students will become more and more prepared.
As for my experience in it? Nothing has been more fullfilling. I have grown a lot as a person, I have met friends that will be with me for the rest of my life, I have bonds with other Sigma Chi's across the nation who I have never met.
But don't rush just because your friends are. If you have a friend in a fraternity you can have just as much fun without the responsiblities. We have bandparties with guestlists, all my friends who aren't Sigma Chi's get in, and they didn't have to go through a difficult pledgeship, they don't have to worry about cleaning the house, or running the finances, or any other responsiblities. They get the best of both worlds.
The system is not for everyone. I have just as many friends outside of Greek Life, then I do in it, and those friends are just as happy as anyone else. Give it a chance, visit around during rush, if you don't like it more power to you, its not for everyone, if you do great, give it a shot, but don't put too much stock in it, take it for what its worth.
College is a great place and you will enjoy your time there no matter what road you take.
IMPORTANT COMMENTS THAT ADD TO THE DEBATE
It varies widely....
....from one university to another. At my university (the University of Illinois), the fraternities and sororities were purely evil, elitist organizations that had complete control of campus social life and squeezed the individuality out of anyone who entered their doors, assuming any of those people were individuals in the first place. I've visited other universities (usually smaller schools) where their presence was far more positive and beneficial to the university and the community. The greek houses and their members are just like any other cross-section of society: some good, some bad, some neither good or bad.
But some places, they sure make themselves into easy targets. In many greek houses, the levels of conformity in dress, language, taste in music, taste in women or men, etc. is overwhelmingly pervasive.
Its different everywhere you go.
There are several "evil" fraternities here at Auburn as well.
Which is why my main point is if you are going to rush the best thing you can do is go around and find one that best fits you, and generally from hanging out with them you can figure out what kind of people they are.
Many Fraternities do dress alike and take away a lot of individuality (mind you dressing alike doesn't necessarily mean the loss of individuality), which is one of the reasons I chose mine: no two people are the same, and I liked that.