They’re ancient. They’re mysterious. Are they for you? Fraternities have been on American college campuses for hundreds of years. Once women were admitted to post-secondary institutions, sororities became away for the co-eds to bond and form alliances on male-dominated campuses. While a lot has changed since then, fraternities and sororities, also known as “Greek letter organizations” for their tendency to use Greek letters as initials, are still going strong across the country.
The words “fraternity” and “sorority” are based on the Latin terms for “brother” and “sister” respectively. While they are often touted as a family unit, Greek letter organizations have often been a way to separate the elite students from the working-class kids. The most exclusive clubs restrict membership to those with family connections, relations to alumnus or exorbitantly high fees.
Luckily for the rest of us, other Greek letter organizations have formed that are a bit more accepting. You can almost always expect to pay a membership fee but this is usually required just for the on-going management of the society. For people who love the idea of being part of a formal organization and forming the bonds that come with being a part of a brotherhood or sisterhood, the fees are money well spent. However, there are still lots of free options on campus to belong to a club. You can become part of a study group, a volunteer organization or work on the school’s newspaper, for example. These and many other options are a great way to make friends, belong to a group and contribute to life on campus, without paying a cent.
For those who choose to seek a fraternity or sorority membership, remember one of the more controversial stages of membership: the hazing ritual. This initiation practice can range from requiring you to dye your hair pink and dress in a costume to class all the way to physically demeaning abuses.
Joining a club is a great way to get the most out of your college experience. Whether you chose to go with an established Greek letter organization, an informal club or to form something on your own, meeting friends and having something in common will be far more memorable to you long after your college years are finished than hours spent in the study hall.