For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Oct 22 2016
by Alexa Marzina

8 Misconceptions About Fraternities and Sororities

By Alexa Marzina - Oct 22 2016

Fraternities and sororities are some of the most well known components of college life...or are they? There are so many misconceptions about these organizations that it seems strange that people that aren’t even in them always feel the need to talk about them. A lot of movies, especially, portray fraternities and sororities in such a negative light that the general consensus seems to be that these organizations are dangerous, disruptive and not worth it. However, a lot of these assumptions are totally untrue, so it’s time to clear the negative air around fraternities and sororities.

1. All fraternities and sororities haze.

Let’s just address the elephant in the room first, shall we? Hazing is probably the most common word associated with these types of organizations, and I’m not going to tell you that it doesn’t happen. What I will tell you, however, are two simple things. First, any statistic that you hear that starts with “all,” “every single” or anything similar - and tries to negatively group and compare things - is most likely not a true statistic. Second, each chapter of every individual frat/srat is different and they engage in different practices. Don’t blame all members of all organizations for the dumb actions of just a few bad ones in the bunch.

2. Fraternities and sororities are only for people with rich families.

Yes, college tuition is already expensive enough, so it makes sense to assume that if someone or their family has enough money to afford yearly dues they are rich, right? Wrong. You never know what someone’s financial situation is like, so there is literally no way to assume what type of family or economic backgrounds brothers or sisters come from. Maybe that person has a full academic scholarship and works a campus job to afford paying for dues, or their family can barely make ends meet and all the extra money they have goes to let the student join an organization they want. Even if a person is “rich” and is in a fraternity or sorority and has their parents pay for everything, who cares? The point is that brothers and sisters come from lots of different backgrounds: economic, racial, religious, etc.

3. You’re paying for your friends.

Are adults that join country clubs/bowling leagues/book clubs/literally any social activity paying to have friends? Maybe! Again along the lines of money - who cares what other people do with it? If a person joins a fraternity or sorority because they think it’ll help them make friends, they pay dues. If a person joins for any other reason, guess what? They still pay dues. Everyone pays (given they can financially) and everyone has different reasons for joining. It’s not like the money goes to nothing; it can go towards upkeep of the house, planned activities for members and donating to charity.

4. They’re just a bunch of pretty boys/dumb sluts.

While some chapters may tend to only give bids to people that they think fit in with their group looks-wise, not all chapters do this. Each fraternity/sorority (and their chapters) have different values and characteristics that they want their members to have, and that’s what they base the bid process on. Not to mention that in 2016, I hope we’ve gotten over the thoughts that, “All attractive people must be dumb,” and that you can assume anything about a person’s sexual promiscuity (or lack thereof) just by looking at them.

5. All the brothers/sisters are the same.

Just because the members believe in the same values (of their organization) does not mean their personalities are all the same. The great thing about these organizations are that most are not major exclusive, so there is so much variety in their members! Not to mention that with how tightknit some groups are, members can be 100 percent themselves when they’re around their brothers/sisters, and don’t feel the need to conform to any stupid stereotypes.

6. Brothers/sisters are binge drinkers/druggies.

This is another example of the, “Just because some people do this thing, doesn’t mean all similar people do,” principle. Yes, there are some individuals in the world who drink too much or do drugs that also happen to be in fraternities and sororities. Don’t let those people ruin the reputations of all those involved in similar organizations though! Not all brotherhoods/sisterhoods condone (or even allow) drinking/drug use, so don’t base your opinion just off of the negative cases.

7. These organizations take up too much time/members don’t have time for school.

A lot of organizations firmly plant the “school comes first” mantra into their members. Getting an education is the main reason for going to college; joining a fraternity/sorority wouldn’t even be an option without being in college. Not to mention that organizations like this pretty much give you what you put into it. If you’re very committed/involved, then yes it can take up a considerable amount of time. However, if you just want to be along for the ride and go with the flow (which is still fun!) then your time commitment will probably be significantly less. Each member just has to find a time on the spectrum that works for them.

8. Their main goal is to objectify women.

Oftentimes, fraternity activities are seen as a way to humiliate and degrade women: yes, there are some organizations that encourage their pledges to sleep with extremely drunk girls at parties and sing songs about women in a negative way, but this is not common in all organizations (this “not everyone does it” is a common theme with all of these misconceptions). A lot of fraternities have partnerships with sororities for their philanthropies/charities and have great relationships with them. As far as sororities go, a common misconception is that the members constantly degrade each other as women, which is just not true. A main idea of a sisterhood is to bond and have people to trust, and degrading your sisters totally goes against that.

While there are very real reports like the ones mentioned above - which should be addressed as soon as possible - not every organization participates in these practices. Always make sure to take “facts” you hear about controversial topics with a grain of salt and don’t believe everything you hear.

Lead Image Credit: Universal

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Alexa Marzina - University of Pittsburgh

Alexa is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in nonfiction English writing and pursuing a certificate in American Sign Language. She also plays clarinet in the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band. One day, Alexa hopes to own at least three corgis. Follow her on Twitter @alexa_lou and Instagram @_alexalou

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