Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, July 23, 2018

Why Greek life is not what you think

Too often, national controversy surrounding Greek life overshadows its benefits

Why Greek life is not what you think

There I was, sitting through the interview with the guys who would eventually become my fraternity brothers. I was nervous. Questions kept popping up in my head. What if I don’t make a good impression? What if I don’t like them or even worse… they don’t like me? Am I trying to join an organization that isn’t as great as they have made it out to be thus far? But most of all I was worried about whether joining this fraternity would help me leave a good mark at my school. As it turns out, all of my worries were for naught.

Throughout my life if you would have told me I was going to be in a fraternity, I would have said you were crazy. Back before I came to college I had a very skewed view of fraternity life, one that I feel many people on our college campus have who are not a part of it. Our main purpose is not to throw the “best parties” or to only have the most attractive girls be associated with us as many people seem to think. It’s much deeper than that.

I know I speak for myself among many of my other brothers when I say that I joined a fraternity for better reasons than just to “have a good time.” Let’s be honest: it’s college. More likely than not, you’re going to have a good time no matter what you do. The reason I joined a fraternity was for the bond that fraternity brothers have that simply can’t be replicated without shared passions and values. I joined a fraternity because I saw all of the positive work that these organizations do on campus and wanted to be a part of it. Every fraternity has a philanthropy which they support and all are focused on  great causes. Whether it is curing cancer, fighting sexual assault, raising money for autism awareness, or any other kind of issue, you will find a fraternity who is passionate about it. In fact, over the past couple years, Greek Life has donated more money to Relay for Life than any other organizations.

My decision to join Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) is a decision I have never once regretted. The first thing that drew me to them was the strong sense of community I felt between the brothers and myself, especially that with the man who is now my “big brother.” During my interview with brothers on the social committee, I brought up the previous work I had done in high school to help my sister who had created a sexual assault awareness group in our high school. I also explained how sexual assault prevention was something that I held as very important. They told me about their involvement in one of the only philanthropic events based entirely on sexual assault awareness on campus with an organization named PEERS, AU’s anti-sexual assault peer education group. I immediately knew that this was the kind of fraternity I wanted to join.  ZBT was a fraternity that worked to be part of the solution to ending sexual assault on college campuses—not part of the problem. I wanted to be part of a fraternity where I would be proud to bring my sister, somewhere where I knew that I could leave her alone and trust that my brothers would make sure that nothing bad happened to her.

Furthermore, joining Greek life gave me the opportunity to get immediately involved. Within in the first semester of being part of the organization, I attended multiple leadership conventions, presidents meetings and Inter-Fraternity Council meetings. Because of my passion for sexual assault prevention, I was delegated to become a member of the Greek Wellness Coalition, a collective of Greek leaders in the AU community working to discuss issues in the Greek community. After just one semester of being part of the fraternity, I was given the opportunity to put my leadership skills to the test and now serve as one of the co-social chairs. It is mostly due to the support of my brothers and their willingness to help me become a great leader that I have grown so much not only as a student, but as a person. I feel that through them, my leadership capabilities have greatly increased and will continue to grow even more the longer I serve my fraternity.

On average, fraternities will host between about 5 and 8 parties a semester. That equates to only five or 8 nights. What about the other countless days that you are in that organization? Those times when you grab lunch with a bunch of your friends, bond over your likes and dislikes with people you would not have met otherwise, those are the days and nights that really matter. It is the  feeling you have when you realize that at a moment’s notice you can be surrounded by friends who want nothing more than for you to succeed and be happy. The incalculable leadership experience I gained by getting involved in the organization, the changes that I made with a group of guys supporting me in my endeavors; those are the reasons that I joined Greek life. To say that Greek life is nothing more than people looking to make stupid decisions and only have fun could not be further from the truth.

Alex Zipper is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.

azipper@theeagleonline.com


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