Fraternities And Society

A fraternity, as defined by the The American Heritage Dictionary is "a
chiefly social organization of male college students, usually designated by

Greek letters."(pg. 523) This definition, however, is very limited and
leaves plenty of space for short sighted people to believe the stereotype
conveyed by the popular media, where fraternity members are depicted as drunks
who accomplish nothing either scholastically or socially. Unfortunately, both
this definition and media portrayals fail to mention the fact that membership in
a fraternity 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 long tradition
of high academic achievement, and most of our nation's presidents were members
of a Greek association. According to Irving Klepper, the first fraternity (Phi

Beta Kappa) was founded for "social and literary purposes" at the

College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on December 5th 1776.

After half a century of existence, it became and has since remained a
scholarship honor society. Throughout the nineteenth century, many new
fraternities were founded, but none of these were permanent. Then, in 1825, the

Kappa Alpha Fraternity (now Kappa Alpha Society) was born at Union College. Two
years later, Sigma Phi and Delta Phi had been founded at the same college,
constituting the so-called Union Triad which was, in a large measure, the
pattern for the American Fraternity system. By the end of the nineteenth century
there were over thirty general fraternities in this country (pg. 18). Today's
fraternities still have all the characteristics and precepts of the their past
fraternities: "the charm and mystery of secrecy, a ritual, oaths of
fidelity, a grip, a motto, a badge, a background of high idealism, a strong tie
of friendship and comradeship, and urge for sharing its values through
nationwide expansion." (Klepper pg. 18) In addition, today's fraternities
help their 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 it embraces
different offices (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Scribe, etc..) which
are held by its members. These offices closely resemble the ones of real
business. Additionally, since membership in a fraternity is seen as a great
achievement by other Greek associations' members, every brother must be able to
uphold that office at any time. Organization is a must for every member of a
fraternity. Fund raising activities 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 these activities as a pledge, a brother and an alumnus. This
helps individuals within the group to develop organization and planning. In
addition, since the fraternity might be located in a house, each brother must
learn household organization 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 when the occasion calls for
it. This helps fraternity members develop very strong social skills. Since the
act of one member reflects over the acts of all the others, self-control and
awareness of actions are mandatory. In addition, when the brothers live in
fraternity houses, this adds to the development of social skills in the way that
a member must be able to deal and live with different kinds 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 many different school subjects. It is normal for fraternities to
organize study groups regularly during the school year and especially before
exams. In addition, members might also use the opinion and advice of other
members about the faculty in their favor, and most fraternities keep test files
and other such study aids available for the benefit of their members. Most
fraternity members are also eligible to receive a number of different
scholarships and awards based on academic excellence, leadership, and personal
achievement which can contribute to both the resume and the self-esteem of the
person receiving such an honor. Fraternities are also well known for their
support toward their community. In fact, other than the usual, chapter-run
projects, many chapters require their associate members to organize and
participate in their own community service project before they can be initiated
into full membership. This helps the fraternity to enhance their image, increase
their popularity and their members' awareness toward the community.