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