My fraternity’s old house, circa 1957. The house is gone, but our values are not. Photo courtesy of UF Digital Collections. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.Welcome to College 101, a weekly series HackCollege will be providing with how-to’s and what-not-to-do’s for incoming college freshmen, and those who think they need a refresher course. This week – an oft-debated topic on college campuses, and one that often needs to be debated – Greek organizations.

This week, my fraternity, Chi Phi at the University of Florida is undergoing recruitment. To most of us fraternity gentlemen, this week reigns supreme in importance. Not only do new members provide us with a peek of our fraternity’s future, they allow us to shape the direction we wish our social organization to go.

Below is a piece I wrote originally for the Florida Odyssey. – the University of Florida’s version of the nationwide Greek newspaper. It’s meant for a male audience, but my case is universal. Going Greek is not a choice for everyone, but I believe many people dismiss the possibility of rushing a fraternity or sorority based on flawed stereotypes and misconceptions.

 

I’ll never forget my experience moving into the University of Florida. I had planned for a stress-free goodbye with my mother crying and my father proud to send his first-born off to college. Like most students who moved into residence halls, that proved to be a pipe dream. I dealt with heavy traffic, irritated parents, a heat index that made Gainesville feel like Death Valley, and items not fitting the way I planned. Through all this stress, I remember driving by the Delta Zeta house on the way to Beaty Towers – my home freshman year – and seeing girls practicing their walk for recruitment. My parents and I were baffled, and I thought to myself about how I would never be a part of a Greek organization – it just wasn’t my thing. 

But after a week of being on campus and speaking to Greek gentlemen, I had changed my mind. My biggest concern was my appearance – I always thought I was a little too short and a little too stout to be a fraternity man, and the sorority ladies I saw on my moving day seemed to confirm my misgivings. As a freshman who was a little too stout, the offer of free food for a week and the opportunity to earn a bid – even though I wasn’t sure I could afford dues – was too good to pass up. I went to a few houses, earned a couple bids on my 18th birthday, and made my decision to go Greek  – one of the most important decisions in my life to this date, and one I don’t regret. The decision to go Greek is an individual one, but I believe the concerns I have are ones that many potential new members worry about. Here’s why becoming a Greek gentleman at the University of Florida is a decision you won’t regret.

- Fraternity men stand for something.  If you’ve seen Animal House, you might have the wrong idea of what us fraternity gentlemen stand for. Each organization is governed by a creed or belief statement that expresses what the aim of the fraternity is and what values those members are expected to uphold.

- Fraternity men are involved on campus. There is a misconception that to be involved on campus, you must be Greek. However, fraternities breed leadership through positions in new member classes to positions in an individual chapter and council as well as Greek-led organizations like The Odyssey and Greeks Going Green. Fraternity men are found in nearly every organization on campus from the Florida Cicerones to SG Senate to Preview staffers. An ideal new member of a fraternity is one who is willing to lead – both in their chapter or council and on campus. 

- Fraternity men believe in philanthropy and service. All 26 IFC fraternities here at UF have a philanthropy they conduct each year to raise money for a local or national organization, and nearly every Greek organization participates in Dance Marathon @ UF, the Southeast’s largest student-run philanthropy that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network at Shands Hospital.

- Fraternity men have a deeper bond than just friends. Due to the common ritual my brothers and I share, I trust in them much more than my other non-Greek friends. I eat lunch and dinner daily at my fraternity house, live among my brothers, and spend more time with them than anyone else. I would feel comfortable calling on my brothers at any hour of the day if I needed their help, and I know they share the same sentiment in return.