Fact or Fiction: Myths about Fraternities & Sororities

Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.

Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes go awry.
Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others --- it is victimization. Hazing is pre-meditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and often life-threatening.

Myth #3: Fraternities are just like the one shown in the movie “Animal House.”
Fact: Nobody likes stereotypes.  Unfortunately, after the showing of that movie, fraternities and sororities have been categorized as partiers, irresponsible and abusive.  In reality, fraternities and sororities are values based organizations dedicated to the development of character and lifelong friendship.  Chapters that perpetuate those behaviors seen in the movies find very quickly that they are operating not as a fraternity but rather a drinking club.  Inter/National organizations, college and university campuses, and individual chapters all take very seriously the ideals upon which fraternities were founded.  The international fraternity movement is enjoying growth today because of the efforts of so many to move away from the scenes of Animal House.

Myth #4: If you are a part of a fraternity/sorority, you have poor academic performance.
Fact: It is true that fraternities and sororities have moved away from their pure academic roots; however, academics are still a vital part of the organizations’ missions.  Research has shown that graduation rates, retention, and Grade Point Averages are higher among those students who chose to incorporate fraternities/sororities into their collegiate experiences. 

Myth #5: Fraternities and sororities encourage binge drinking and drug use amongst its members.
Fact: Due to the fact that Greek chapters comprise the largest student organization nationwide, Greek communities are constantly in the media spotlight. Social problems such as binge drinking and drug use occur in nearly every facet of society, but their presence is magnified in fraternities.

Myth #6: Fraternities are not conducive to social and spiritual development.
Fact: One of the things these organizations can be most proud of is its organized social calendar. There is a plethora of events designed to foster social interaction and interpersonal skills. Young men are encouraged to meet and interact with members of their own and other chapters. Social events, inter-chapter functions, and inclusive community service projects allow for networking and help to foster strong bonds of friendship. Another often overlooked facet of the Greek community is the strong foundation for spiritual development. Many members are involved in university-wide religious groups. A few chapters even recruit new members based upon religious affiliation.

Myth #7: Fraternities do not foster leadership skills.
Fact: There is never a shortage of leadership opportunities available to undergraduates. The social Greek lettered organizations offer other great resources for developing leadership abilities with an abundance of role models and mentors within each chapter.

Myth #8: A member of the Greek community must buy his friends.
Fact: The widely held belief that a fraternity/sorority experience is costly, shallow and materialistic is incredibly ignorant and unsubstantiated. A person must pay to live in any living organization, or any residence hall for that matter. It is a common misconception that all fraternities are rich. This notion, however widespread, is simply an incorrect generalization. The fact of the matter is that fraternity/sorority members pay to live together just as any other roommates pay to live in the same place. The fact that social opportunities are readily available in the Greek community does not equate to automatic friendships. It is probably also fair to say that most individuals, Greek or non-Greek, tend to socialize to a certain extent with the people with whom they live. One thing that the NIC community can be most proud of is the opportunity to develop diverse friendships.

Myth #9: Fraternities do not benefit surrounding communities.
Fact: A rather unfortunate and ironic byproduct of constantly being in the public spotlight is that Greek communities are blamed for social problems and isolated tragedies, but rarely given the credit they deserve for positive contributions to their communities. Each national fraternity has an established philanthropy, or community service program, that raises money for a charity of choice. These philanthropies are carried out by member chapters at various universities all over the nation. The community service programs are good for public relations. They also help with recruitment efforts, but above all else, they allow chapters to give back to the community. These nationally designed service projects make up only a small percentage of the actual service projects carried out by Greek communities. These community service event projects are fun and often double as social events because chapters regularly donate their time and energy to events sponsored by other chapters.

Myth #10: Joining a chapter eliminates the ability to develop friendships with other students on campus.
Fact: The belief that membership in a Greek chapter prevents friendship with non-Greeks is absolutely ridiculous. Interaction with students in and out of the Greek community happens all the time. Friends are made in the classroom, in all types of extra-curricular activities, and the list goes on and on. Many members of the Greek community have lived in either residence halls or in an off-campus living arrangement. Most students maintain strong friendships from high schools or hometowns.

Myth #11: Parents cannot be involved in their student's Greek experience.
Fact: Parents who argue that they have not been able to be a part of their child's experience in a fraternity should reexamine the level of effort they made to get involved. If effort is not lacking, then they should look at the level of communication they had with their student regarding opportunities for involvement. Most chapters keep family members up to date on chapter news through newsletters or other means.

Myth #12: Greek chapters may be irresponsible because they do not answer to a higher authority.
Fact: There is a common misconception that because Greek chapters are living organizations maintained by the undergraduates who reside in them, there is complete lack of authority and control. Truth be told, there is a very elaborate hierarchy of power in place to ensure the success and safety of undergraduate members. Within each fraternity there are approximately 25-30 leadership positions. These offices range from a chapter president and scholarship chairman all the way to kitchen manager and intramural chairman. The second body to which chapter officers must answer is the chapter's house corporation. This body is made up of chapter alumni who are financially responsible and liable for the chapter house. These alumni make sure the house is functioning properly and that the undergraduate members in the chapter are safe and acting responsibly. Finally, the officers within each chapter must answer to their national organization. Each chapter is sponsored and given its charter, or permission to operate, by a large national fraternity. These national organizations ultimately determine the status of their member chapters. Therefore, chapters must meet certain guidelines and complete the appropriate paperwork required by their national organizations. Because Greek chapters are registered with universities as student organizations, they must also abide by university policies. These regulations are imposed by university administrators. The final and most stringent set of policies that Greek chapters must abide by are state and federal laws. In conclusion, there are many bodies in place to help and maintain a safe and appropriate environment for undergraduate members of the Greek community.

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