More than a stereotype
Jeffrey Tangney Collegio Reporter
I never imagined that I would join a fraternity. It wasn’t that I was opposed to it; I had just never thought of it. After my experience with Phi Sigma Kappa, however, I am strongly in favor of the Greek community, both locally and nationally.
The biggest benefit I received from the nearly four semesters I spent with the Phi Sigs was the development of interpersonal skills. I was a shy, reserved kid throughout high school and my first year in college. I lacked the ability to approach people and introduce myself, I shunned activities involving many people and I would never try new things. After I joined, I immediately found myself surrounded by people who were not only supportive of who I was but also encouraged me to share that with others. It is something of a cliché, but being in a fraternity got me to come out of my shell and become a more complete person.
Another reason I support fraternities is the support system they provide to members. While other organizations that are non-Greek can provide a support system for students, the fact is the strongest support systems exist in Greek organizations. When I was in the fraternity, I knew there would always be someone I could turn to or somewhere I could go to when I needed help. Last summer I learned that the support system of a fraternity is national in scope rather than local. No matter where you go in the country, you will be welcomed at a chapter of your fraternity.
The Greek community is also beneficial to promoting principles that will be useful long after graduation. The Greek organizations emphasize values that are admirable in all aspects of life. The fraternities instill in members the idea of continuous growth as a person. When I was a member of Phi Sig, I sought to represent myself as best as I could because I was representing my brothers as well. The fraternities teach time management skills, asking members to give a certain amount of their time to fraternities while expecting them to maintain good academic standards.
The Greek community also allows students to become involved on campus. This furthers the education process and allows for a deeper connection to Pittsburg State. Greek organizations give students something to come back to on a regular basis. Alumni who leave the area come back more often and remain connected to these organizations for decades after they have graduated. Other organizations do allow students to become connected, but it seems unlikely that an alumnus is going to come back to campus just to visit an old club — at least not regularly.
The main drawback to a Greek organization is the membership fees involved. While it is true that Greek organizations cost more than most organizations on campus, they also provide far more for members overall. Fraternities keep members connected and active long after graduation. The costs of a fraternity are only incurred during the years a member is a student. In the end, the total benefits of being in a fraternity outweigh the short-term costs.
I may not be in Phi Sigma Kappa anymore, but I am positive that it was a good decision to join the Greek community and I would recommend joining a Greek organization to any student.
No reason for elitism
I say all of this with all due respect, as well as in good fun, and it’s important to note that I’m not completely familiar with all the activities that encompass Greek life.
However, I have taken classes filled with numerous members of the Greek community and it is obvious that many of the stereotypes commonly held about Greeks seem to be present. If you have ever had a class with one of them, you know what I mean, and even if you haven’t, which is highly unlikely, they’re easy to spot: Sperry’s, polos (with or without the collar popped), khakis and sometimes a little bit of hair gel.
They will typically talk a great deal about how awesome the previous weekend was, detailing the awesome parties they attended, as well as how much alcohol they consumed. While I’m sure there is no rule requiring the above uniform, at least not that I know of, it’s really not even that which makes me skeptical of the lifestyle.
The thing that I do not appreciate about the Greek life is the air of superiority surrounding it.
I am not saying that every person in a sorority or fraternity is arrogant or pretentious and void of any humility or respect, but let’s be honest: The exclusive process involved in gaining membership sets these organizations apart as “elite,” a word synonymous with superior.
The stringent guidelines, tasks and processes just to become a member are not typical of your average organization, furthering this sense of superiority. Most people do not require their friends to pledge, “rush” and complete certain tasks just to make their friendship official. I know that I don’t. The types of people I am friends with share common interests with me, and compatible personalities. They weren’t just in some pledge class with me.
Also, this superiority complex is furthered by the required members’ dues.
Any activity that requires payment to join is either in pursuit of economic advancement or is using this payment as a mechanism to exclude those who can’t, or choose not to pay. Since fraternities and sororities are not-for-profit organizations, the latter must be true.
I, like most people, do not require any form of payment for people to be my friend.
This superiority seems to transfer from the organizations and the processes of membership, into many of the individuals who are members of a fraternity or sorority.
I am sure that these organizations contribute positively to the university and the community alike, but apart from the community service required for a Greek organization to be chartered in the respective affiliations, there doesn’t seem to be many examples of these organizations going out of their way to do this.