Ask An American: University Sororities & Fraternities

Ask An American: University Sororities & Fraternities

October 9, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


Hey everyone! Dana here and on today’s Ask
An American, I will be talking about sororities and fraternities in the U.S. Do they play
a big part in university life in American universities? What kinds of things go on,
how does it work in sororities and fraternities? And was I in a sorority? Alright, so let’s start with some vocabulary.
So the sororities are for women and the fraternities, often abbreviated just to frats are for guys.
And the whole thing, altogether, is called Greek life because the organizations take
their names from Greek letters. So you’ve got Delta Gamma or Delta Delta Delta. Members of the sorority or the fraternity
often live together in one big house, although usually not all of the members because the
house isn’t big enough, but a lot of the members live together in one house and then these
houses are often located next to each other. So you’ve got a lot of sorority and fraternity
houses located in one area close to the university and then that area is often called frat row. At the beginning of the fall semester people
who are interested in joining a sorority or a fraternity do what is called rushing. So
you’ve got rush week right there at the beginning of the semester and it’s usually freshmen,
so people in their first year of university, who participate in rush week. And they run
around going to interviews and doing activities at the different sororities or fraternities
that they’re interested in joining, so you usually have a list of a few, perhaps, their
top 5, and then they go rush around campus, well not campus, but rushing around to the
different frat or sorority houses to do those interviews. Now I have no idea how it works, rushing for
guys, but I did have some girlfriends who did rush, and all I can tell you is it looked
like a lot of work. So this is of course in August in Florida in the Florida heat, and
they’re rushing around going from one sorority house to the next. And this usually involved
different outfits for each event or each interview. And pretty formal looking outfits, so they’re
running around carrying their heels in their hands, um, trying not to sweat all their make
up off in these really nice dresses. And so they go to the different places and they interview
with them or do the activities like I said, and then after that the people at the sorority
or the fraternity get together, they have a meeting, and they decide who they are going
to offer an invitation to, or a bid. And then they offer out those bids and hopefully you
got one that was in your top couple choices and then that’s the time when you need to make the
decision if or which sorority or fraternity you’re going to join. Now, something to note here is that sororities
and fraternities are kind of like people: they have different personalities. Um, not
all the sororities and fraternities are the same. You have some fraternities or sororities
that are known for doing more volunteer work. Some that known for studying. Some that are
known for partying. Some that are known for partying really hard. And so that goes into
your consideration of which houses you are going to try to join and then when you finally
make your decision, that factors in there. It’s not usually just blindly picking one.
You’re picking one that fits to you and your personality. After you’ve joined you start a kind of probationary
period. This is called pledging and this is when you get to know the house, the sorority
or fraternity, but also they get to know you. And this involves getting to know the history
and also doing different activities, bonding activities, and during this time that is when
you would have hazing and this you might have heard about in the news, um, some sororities
and fraternities are more known for their extreme hazing practices than others. So like
I said before, the houses, each sorority and fraternity have their own personality, and
that is definitely going along with hazing as well. Some are more extreme than others
and even as someone who wasn’t in a sorority, I heard stories and I did know that some of
the fraternities and the sororities were more extreme when it comes to hazing than others.
And yeah sadly this can sometimes really go too far. You might have seen it in the news,
there have been stories where people have died from hazing or really gotten injured.
But this is definitely not something that happens in all sorority or fraternity houses.
You can’t paint all of Greek life with that brush. Some are more extreme and some less
extreme or just doing bonding activities and things to get to know each other, so it really
depends on the sorority or the fraternity. And sadly though, if these hazing practices
do go south, um, a lot of times that doesn’t really, the problem doesn’t come to light
for several years because nobody wants to step forward and say anything about it. Either
the people get hazed really badly, but then they do join that fraternity or that sorority
and so they don’t want to break that bond and tell on the other members or they don’t
end up joining, they drop out, and then they still don’t really want to bring it to the
police though, because they’re afraid of some sort of retribution against them. So sometimes
it takes a while for these thing to come to light. Sometimes you can have really bad hazing
for years and then finally something really tragic happens, and that’s when it’s all exposed.
When that happens I have heard of universities kicking the sororities or fraternities off
campus, or shutting them down completely, or shutting them down for a certain amount
of time to deal with those issues. So as I’ve already mentioned, I was not part
of a sorority. When I went to college, I think the statistic was something like 10% of people
were involved in Greek life. Although I did look into it. The camaraderie and the friendship
and the bond there, it did look really enticing and that did sound really nice, if you could
find a group of girls who, you know, you really fit with, that seemed really nice. But in
the end I just decided it wasn’t for me. First of all, during the rush week, as I mentioned,
you’ve got to run around in some pretty nice dresses, and in college, I think I owned one
nice dress and I just wasn’t about to go and spend 1000 or more dollars buying a bunch
of nice dresses and shoes and jewelry, and yeah, that just wasn’t me.
And then also, as far as money goes, it was going to cost a lot of money for more clothes
that you would have to buy because they have different socials and kind of fancier events
than I would usually go to, so I would have to kind of get a whole new wardrobe. And then
just money paying the dues at the place — paying to be a part of it. Um, paying for a meal
plan. So, the houses have a kitchen and they have a dining room where you eat, and so you
buy a meal plan there, and then the next reason why, besides the money, that I wasn’t too
keen to join, was there’s a lot of structure involved. So, you actually, even if you don’t live in
the house, you have to eat a certain number of meals per week at the sorority or fraternity
house. You have to and you’ll get penalized if you don’t. I don’t really know what happens
if you don’t, but you have to eat a certain number of meals there per week. Also, as far
as activities go, you have to do a certain number of socials, activities, um, different
group things. You have to participate in a certain number of things per week or per month.
And of course that’s the point of it, is to participate in things so you would want to
do that. But for me it was just, it was just a little bit too much structure. I, I’m a
more flexible person. I don’t like to sign up for too many things that I have to do.
I already had classes that I had to go to and other things that I had to do. In my free
time, I wanted it to be free. And not have any obligations that I had to do or not that
many obligations. So my question for you is: people who were part of a sorority or a fraternity,
what have a missed here? Because I can only try to explain it the best that I can as an
outsider looking in. So what other things would you like to share with people. What
did you like about it, what didn’t you like about it? And also, is there anything like
that here in Germany or in other countries around the world? Yeah, please let me know
in the comments below. Thanks so much for watching. Please don’t
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And also, for more photos or behind the scenes or short video clips, you can check me out
over here on my Twitter and my Facebook page. Until next time, auf Wiedersehen! For example,
Kappa Delta or Gamma Kappa. I think I just made those two names up. Okay, so let’s start with some vocabulary.
So… After you’ve joined, you start a kind of pro… Because as someone, just an outsider looking
in, I can only do my best to describe it…wait, what?