So you’ve gotten into a fraternity, which means now you can just sit back and bask in the glory of Greek Life, right? Well, not quite. Yes, being part of a fraternity is awesome: There’s the built-in community, being part of something bigger than yourself, the notoriety and respect that comes with your connection with your letters. But being part of a fraternity is also a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to upholding the 5 Pillars of Greek Life.
Still, there’s a lot to take in as a new member, and it can be easy to let your priorities get out of whack. This is particularly true for freshman fraternity brothers who have to deal with the additional newness of college life and being away from home for the first time.
So here are a few things to watch out for and some strategies to help you deal.
1. Blowing Off Class: A lot of guys new to fraternities spend the first semester hitting up parties instead of hitting the books. While a healthy social life is an important aspect of being in a fraternity, the simple fact is that fraternities exist within educational institutions for a reason and education is an integral part of Greek Life. Shirking your studies can not only get you flunked out of college, but kicked out of your fraternity too. So make sure to go to all your classes and set aside an appropriate amount of time to study. Talk with more senior members of your fraternity about time management strategies. You’ll most likely find that fraternity brothers who have the most success are the ones most diligent about prioritizing study time.
2. Snubbing Old Friends: Fraternities are known for fostering life-long friendships. It’s true that you and your chapter buddies will bond over your shared interests and the unique perks of Greek Life. But chances are you have friends who either didn’t choose to join a fraternity or tried but didn’t get in. Guys new to fraternities often assume that hanging out with non-fraternity friends is frowned upon or is a sign that they’re not serious about their fraternity. But this isn’t the case. Fraternities value a diversity of friendships and interests. As long as your non-fraternity friends aren’t ragging on you about your choice to be in a fraternity, there’s no reason to snub them or make them feel inferior. In fact, doing so only makes fraternities seem snobby and intolerant.
3. Practicing Unsafe Sex: One of the major perks of being in a fraternity is definitely the social capital. Between the parties and campus-wide prestige, being in a fraternity means your circle of friends and those who want to be more than just friends is going to widen. So it’s not surprising that you’ll have more options and opportunities for hook-ups now that you’re in a fraternity. But as with so many good things that suddenly become more abundant, it’s easy to forget the golden rule of getting it on—wrap it up!
According to a USA Today report, two-thirds of all STDs contracted in the US are among college students and the risk for STDs increases dramatically when alcohol is involved. It can be hard to think about using protection when you’re in the heat of the moment, but a condom might literally be the only thing between you and a painful infection or premature fatherhood. Some guys go without condoms by choice because they don’t want to lose sensation, but to these guys, Adam and Eve suggests trying ultra-thin condoms or condoms with a vibrating ring. Whether you’re sober or not, there’s no excuse for putting yourself and others at risk.
4. Playing the Fraternity Card: Yes, being part of a fraternity has its perks. You are now in a position of leadership and have a higher degree of visibility on campus. However, being in a fraternity isn’t a free pass to take advantage of the system. It could be something as simple and seemingly harmless as asking for special treatment from a professor or something more serious.
It’s crucial for the longevity of your chapter to protect and preserve its reputation. You don’t want to be the guy who gave his fraternity an unsavory nickname. Or worse, get your fraternity shut down over a stupid prank, like the Ole Miss statue scandal back in April. Remember, what you do reflects on your fraternity too. And this applies to your fraternity’s online reputation as well.
5. Not Pulling Your Weight: Joining a fraternity is more than just joining a club. It’s not a part-time activity or spectator sport; it’s a way of life. From keeping the house in order, to overseeing events and getting involved in the community—there’s a lot that needs doing when you’re in a fraternity. For some newbies, it’s the “being” in a fraternity rather than the “acting” like a fraternity member that attracted them to Greek Life in the first place.
However, just as an athlete has to hustle in practice and not just show up to the big game, you have to put time and effort into the things that make your fraternity what it is. You can’t just show up to the party and reap the benefits. Taking the initiative to get involved can be particularly difficult for newbies, as there’s a lot to take in and a lot to learn. Don’t be afraid just ask the older guys what you can do to help. They’ll definitely have advice and they will take note of your eagerness for future responsibilities.