Filtering Fact From Fiction: The Realities of Fraternity Life

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  • When parents imagine sons going away to college, they conjure John Belushi tilting a full bottle of whiskey back before engaging in a night of decadence.  Of course, Hollywood movies stretch truth to entertain, and yet with gossip of hazing, concerning anecdotes and stories of misappropriate behavior in the press, some parents are stressed sons want to join the Greek life.

    Separate fact from fiction, reading about the top four concerns of parents regarding impending fraternity life.

    No Time for Academics

    When you’re getting drunk, playing intramural sports, and chasing coeds around campus, you have little time for studying.  Parents get concerned about inattention toward scholastics when sons join fraternities.  While fraternities are social in nature, plenty of Greek members host good GPAs, graduate, and find good paying jobs.  In addition, some fraternities demand members maintain a certain GPA.  Furthermore, access to a number of brothers makes for easy access to others who can tutor or join study groups.

    Hazing is Horrible

    Parents worry about misappropriate and dangerous hazing taking place on college campuses. In order to initiate, impending members are asked to express allegiance and intent by performing a number of acts.  Such ‘initiations’ are not mandated by Greek society and intolerable to police and campus heads.  Therefore, parents should not worry about hazing any more than they would have blind concern for drunk driving or school shootings.  While the future is unwritten, it’s to be understood fraternity membership does not assume or demand unlawful or unethical acts.

    Not Worth the Effort

    Some parents question fraternities, wondering if these social groups are just an excuse for boys to form and party.  However, members not only enjoy social interaction with members and a broader Greek society, but they learn leadership skills, partake in charity efforts, and make lifelong friendships that translate into the business world, opening doors of opportunity and success.  Is pledging a fraternity worth the effort?  Do members come away with little but screenprinted Greek apparel?  Many brothers appreciate the friendships, opportunities, and social and educational advantages fraternities provide.  The Supreme Court is a ‘club.’  Most parents wouldn’t mind their child graduating to such heights.

    Where is the Supervision?

    While parents cringe at the thought of sons living in a party house, the reality is akin to having an extended family.  Brothers experience implicit supervision.  Rules are placed on them regarding GPA, curfew, and upholding the fraternity honor.  Brothers are well supervised by elders and one another.  Fraternity lifestyle if structured, with many events scheduled days or week ahead, helping with scholastics, exercise, and social life.  Aside from campus police and teachers, boys have a family of frat brothers looking out for their welfare.

    A surge of anxiety is expected and acceptable regarding a son’s departure from home and possible matriculation into a fraternity.  Parents worry about poor grades, bad behavior, entertaining the worst images Hollywood can conjure.  However, the realities of fraternity life are tamer, offering members a number of immediate and lifelong benefits.  Before accepting the anxiety of the unknown, be proactive. 

    Seek more information about particular schools, on-campus fraternities, and sons’ intentions. Jaime Sunday has a passion for Greek life. She enjoys blogging about common concerns and questions have about the close-knit organizations.

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