Anger and disappointment churn inside me as the image of Greek life is consistently tainted by popular culture. Programs such as “Sorority Life,” featuring Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, a local women’s group at University of California Davis, and Comedy Central’s “Insomniac” with Dave Attel, featuring a chapter house of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, are examples of the disgraceful portrayal of Greek life. It is shows like these, movies like the upcoming “Going Greek,” irresponsible people and those who lack basic values who give the Greek system a bad name.
I am in a fraternity – a brotherhood. The word “frat” has no meaning to me anymore, “fraternity” means brotherhood. My first semester in college, I decided to pledge a frat. I ended up becoming part of a fraternity of 30 of the closest friends I will ever have.
The founding members of every national Greek organization wrote down a list of common values, which became the constitution for how they chose to live. The oath that new members take is a promise to live, or strive to live, by all of those.
I recently went to a Greek values-based decisions conference. At this conference I met 74 other Greeks from around the country who had done amazing things for their chapters, their national organizations and their school communities. We discussed our accomplishments within our Greek communities and at our respective universities. I could not believe the incredible amount of community service and overall goodwill that some of these people had managed to accomplish in the short time that they had been a part of their chapter.
Have fraternities and sororities outlived their usefulness? If you ask any of the people I met there, or myself, the answer would most definitely be no. However, it is a difficult argument to express in words. Words cannot portray the emotions, dedication, experiences and compassion that we all feel toward our organization. I cannot describe the feeling of sadness I have when one of my brothers tells me that he is scared about graduating, a father has lost his job, an uncle has cancer again or a girlfriend is hurting him. To have someone confide in you so openly and sincerely is something that can only be experienced. This is what brotherhood is to me.
The 74 other people I met at that conference will have similar stories. These Greeks follow their constitutions and they strive to live by them everyday of their lives. These are the people that television shows and movies should be based on – but people crying to each other isn’t very exciting, is it?
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in journalism, is a member of the GW chapter of Theta Delta Chi International Fraternity