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Going Greek: Negative Stereotypes Surrounding Fraternities

Updated on February 24, 2012


The other day, I happened to notice in the dictionary that Webster’s defines a fraternity as a group of rich, preppy, white boys who do nothing but party and womanize. Okay, so I may have made that up, and the dictionary says nothing of the sort. However, I often feel as though that is the stereotype of fraternities (ever see the movie Animal House). I once held a negative view of fraternities and never expected to be part of one, but after seeing the inner-workings and true purposes, I will be forever thankful that I did accept a bid to pledge my freshman year of college.


Too often, I see some article in the news about a negative event surrounding a fraternity. I could take this as an opportunity to link articles and slander the names of other rival fraternities, but I would be ignorant to do that knowing that different chapters of my fraternity across the country have had such occurrences as well. There is, and probably always will be, a negative association with fraternities and Greek life, and I realize that the hazing allegations and other dumb decisions made by certain fraternity men only help to perpetuate this stereotype. There is a bit of truth to the stereotypes depending on what fraternities, chapters, and specific members you look at. However, I wish the good that occurs would be publicized only half as often as the bad is.


I was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. Even though I am not in college anymore, I will always be a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, or Pike for short. It is something that stays with you for life. Because my time with the fraternity was so positive in college, I currently volunteer advising a new chapter that is starting at another university. I want to be able to give back and help other young men have the same opportunities for growth that I was given.


I realize that a lot of people reading this may have that negative stereotype. You might be thinking “it’s all Greek to me.” I understand that if you have never had the experience of being in a fraternity or sorority, it can be very hard to comprehend. From the outside, the negative stereotype probably does seem accurate. I can assure you that there is more to it than what appears.


Now I can’t speak for every Greek organization because I do not know what they were founded upon. I can assume they were created for similar reasons as my fraternity. Pi Kappa Alpha was founded upon the “promotion of brotherly love and kind feeling; for the mutual benefit and advancement of the interests of those with whom we sympathize and deem worthy of our regard.” That is taken straight from the Pi Kappa Alpha Preamble, which was written in 1868. This was the vision of the founders. It was a vision of creating true, lasting friends, having similar interests, and of bettering themselves as men.


The image we generally stereotype is one of a glorified drinking club. Or of a group of people who pay for their friends. Some people may join the fraternity for the wrong reasons, and the visions of the founders have been distorted over time. However, the underlying good cause still exists within the realms of Pi Kappa Alpha.


I come from an extremely successful chapter of Pike, and one that has received many national accolades. My chapter thrived around grades, community service, philanthropy, brotherhood, and intramural sports. Being part of the fraternity greatly enhanced my college experience. I would have never spent time delivering gifts to kids in an inner-city school or helped to raise over $60,000 for Children’s Miracle Network without the fraternity. I’m not mentioning these things to toot my own horn but simply referencing a couple of opportunities I was given from being part of Greek life. These were not events I was forced to partake in; these were things I enjoyed doing. The examples mentioned are just two of many I had.


These are the things you don’t see publicized. It’s the part of Greek life that people rarely hear about. It is extremely commonplace for a fraternity hazing or party to make the news, but why don’t we hear about a group of young men when they bring a poor family into their fraternity house and prepare an entire Christmas dinner for them? Why don’t we hear about the philanthropy dinners that raise money for good causes? Now, I don’t expect this piece of writing to completely change your mind if you are one of those people with a negative view, but I hope it will get you thinking. I know that I am a better man because of my time in the fraternity. There is more to Greek life than what is generally known through the stereotypes.



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    • Joelipoo profile image
      Author

      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @Gypsy - I'm glad you found this interesting.

      @turness - Glad you had a good time with your fraternity too. I witnessed the animal house type fraternities in college as well.

    • turness profile image

      turness 5 years ago from North Aurora

      I joined a fraternity that was very similar to animal house. My grades fell, but I had a great time.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      This was especially interesting to me because Latvians have their own fraternity system and they name their fraternities according to places in Latvia. Once university is over they continue to be part of the fraternity for life.

    • Joelipoo profile image
      Author

      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @learn - definitely not trying to say it's all good because I have been there and experienced the bad too, but the good does seem to get overlooked always.

    • learnlovelive profile image

      learnlovelive 5 years ago from U.S.

      An interesting perspective, something surely overlooked due to the stigmatization of fraternity life and it's often over-played theatrical personas. Particularly regarding to the incidence of hazing among fraternities.