What is Fraternity life like? That is a tough question, as there are over 120 fraternities internationally, each with different expectations, rituals, guidelines, rules, and members. They are in all different parts of the world with different cultures and with diverse people frequenting their halls.
So it is a difficult question to answer on a broad general basis. But, here are some tips to help decide the kind of fraternity you want to spend your educational career with.
First, let’s confirm or put to rest a few myths about fraternities.
Hazing is an unfortunate reality for some aspiring members in Greek life. It does happen and there are tragedies resulting from it. However, this is not a universal truth for all fraternities. Many have taken the progressive leap to eliminating hazing culture among its chapters. One of the first being Delta Upsilon, which has strict rules and guidelines regarding the practice of hazing. Some Chapters of certain fraternities have also made the leap to non-hazing practices. When talking to members, always make sure you know what the chapter view on hazing is before accepting a bid.
Many Fraternities adopt secrecy in order to protect its members from potentially embarrassing situations, or to protect secrets of the fraternity, such as rituals and less then admirable behaviour. There are certain fraternities, however few, that practice a non-secrecy policy because they believe that their members should hold higher standards as men, and not boys (such a fraternity is Delta Upsilon). This is not to say that secrecy is bad, many secret fraternities go trouble free and it’s just a fact of their culture. When finding out about their policies, if you value honesty first and foremost, look for non-secret organizations, as their members tend to be more honest as they cannot hide behind the veil of secrecy.
3. The Frat Type?
North America is home to a number of fraternities, and around them a variety of different people. Here in Canada, members come from many different religions, backgrounds, ethnicities. Few frats practice elitism (in Canada), which is accepting only people from certain social circles, (i.e. based on religion our economic status). An example is Zeta Beta Tau, who is for those who practise the Jewish faith. More often then not, if you are in general an upstanding person, you can join based on that and not your social status.
A common reason for men not wanting to go into Greek life is to focus on school work. But from experience, depending on your program, a balance between Greek life and school can be easily maintained. This balance is also preparation for when you become an alumni, as balance between work and the rest of your life begins. If you’re worried however that frat life will overwhelm you, most fraternities have what’s called chapter excellence programs. These include chapter study sessions, and an expectation of one member to help another. Most fraternities also expect you to have a successful academic career, maintaining at minimum a 2.5 GPA, any less you can expect consequences from the board.
Another common concern is family. Families can sometimes be un-approving of fraternities, and depending on the chapter, sometimes with good reason. Most of the time though there is no need for concern. If your family is concerned you can always ask a current member to talk to your family about their experience and how it benefitted them. Most fraternities and members would be happy to oblige. Again, if your family is concerned, non-hazing or non-secret may be the way to go, as non-secret has the ability to tell others exactly what goes on inside the chapter.
6. Social life?
Fraternity life can be demanding, it is normal that some connections in your everyday life can be hindered by activity with the house. However, in return you can gain a lot of social skills by being in a social club. You are constantly in social situations, making new friends and connections all the time. It is also acceptable to bring friends to the chapter to meet your fellow members. In my experience, fellow members have always been happy to entertain guests. Companionship is also very acceptable, good fraternities and members will never ask you to compromise your integrity with other women. Functions are often hosted in which you are required to bring a companion.