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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Fraternities need to shape up

    Fame can be a double-edged sword, and fraternities are decapitating themselves with it.

    To be fair, Greek-letter fraternal organizations are often stereotyped, caricatured and otherwise singled out or misrepresented for their perceived Animal House-esque quality, but that’s a story for another week. The fact is that there is surely truth in the view of “”frat boys”” as party-mongers. Many members of mainstream fraternities have a thriving entrepreneurial drive to plan and execute a monstrous social event. A meager 20-person gathering is patently inadequate. These students want girls and glory, and will do whatever it takes to get them.

    The tools to acquire these lofty goals are varied. Sometimes the members will come up with a fun party theme. Other times it is more convenient to take another fraternity’s theme and throw the party earlier – quite the effective tactic to employ upon unsuspecting female freshfolk. Most obviously, the members offer alcohol, and less obviously, drugs ranging from the green variety to the white.

    Fraternities even advertise their parties, often ad nauseum, especially via the most effective Greek-to-female communication device; the sorority chapter meeting. Fraternities employ their dorm-inhabiting new recruits to gather party-goers from their residence halls. All in all, it’s a fairly effective machine.

    But back to the metaphor. All this advertising, intoxication and fraternal glory is anything but subtle. In a business sense, it’s dangerous. You don’t do something less than ethically awesome and advertise the hell out of it. It just isn’t smart. Even Brother Jed knows the indecencies of fraternity life from his own experiences before he was reborn. However, for those of us who have yet to be saved, the activities of the fraternity party are just plain sinful.

    Sure, dancing, drinking, fornication and rap music aren’t really immoral – the only really unforgivable element would be the rap – but, more often than not, they’re looked down upon by society. Even college students who participate in the same or worse activities than fraternities do aren’t merely neutral but actually have negative feelings toward fraternities. It simply is not a good environment in which to so boldly and palpably stick your neck out.

    Look around. Everyone else is smarter about it. Student organizations from sports teams and coed business fraternities to leadership organizations often drink their way into filling their resumes. They are the new casual organization. Even with super-organizational committees such as the Interfraternity Council and the Greek Life Office to help fraternities organize, look good and run social events often more safe and controlled than local house parties, fraternities still can’t keep up when it comes to staying afloat. Greeks lose their heads when it comes to this dilemma. However, they have a path to thrive, and that path lies in focusing first and foremost on the values that each national fraternity is supposedly based on.

    First, fraternities must present themselves differently. For those not interested, the party-centric reputations make fraternities look stupid. These reputations also fall into new college students’ preconceived views of fraternities, leading to an overwhelming number of boys who only want to party rushing fraternities. Many of these students contribute nothing of substance to the fraternity. Poor reputation also gives others an excuse to stereotype, thus washing over most of the positive effects of community service and philanthropy events.

    Speaking of philanthropic efforts, much Greek philanthropy could do well to focus less on making anchor banners or having girls play football and more on supporting the philanthropy and spreading its message. Greeks claim to hold themselves to a higher standard, and unless their principles become the most important aspect of membership, Greeks will not be known for their ideals and will not survive.

    Second, fraternities must be more selective in recruiting members. From my own experiences, I have seen the effects of both good new members and bad ones, and have found the recruitment and initiation of too many students deficient in character and commitment to be a plague upon the fraternity chapter. Meanwhile, having excellent members in close connection fosters excellence and drives a successful chapter that can prosper rather than walk the tightrope of party-centric behavior and eventually fall.

    Third, and most importantly, mistakes have to be fixed. Sometimes members become bad, and sometimes the wrong members are initiated. We all know fraternities kick out pledges here and there, but far less common is the elimination of an unfit member. Fraternities across the campus run rampant when too many members are out of control.

    If members are held to their values by their own chapters and threatened with viable consequences, including ejection, they will be forced to act in accordance with the organization’s ideals. This is the best and only way for fraternities to become what they were designed to be and to become – and shoot me if I ever say this word again – sustainable.

    – Daniel Greenberg is a political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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