Why the Negative Perception of Fraternities?

Fraternities do more good for a college community than most other student organizations combined.  Fraternities are dedicated to improving their communities through service.  Fraternities excel in academics and provide the best leadership training on campus.  So why are they vilified by outsiders?

The answer is two-fold.

First, fraternity men draw attention to themselves when they are making poor decisions.  Fraternity men are no different when it comes to partying then their peers in their age group.  However, the reputation of all fraternity men takes a hit when one of us does something stupid in public because of our affiliation.

Second, fraternity men don’t draw attention to themselves when they do something good.  The typical fraternity has hundreds, if not thousands, of service hours per year.  But no one outside our community realizes it.  The all-fraternity GPA consistently is higher than the all-men’s GPA on nearly every college campus.  Again, no one knows that but us.  Our members go on to be the most successful people in all walks of life.  Does the typical student or parent know that?

So what is the obvious solution?  If you are taking a queue from Wedding Crashers, and are intent on making some bad decisions, do so in a place where you won’t embarrass yourself or the fraternity.  And if you plan on doing something noteworthy, make sure that you get positive publicity from it.

It will be difficult to change the perception of fraternities that has been created by the media through Animal House and perpetuated by our less responsible brothers.  However, we owe it to future generations of fraternity men to do our best to change our image so they can have the same life-changing experiences that we have had.

4 thoughts on “Why the Negative Perception of Fraternities?

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  2. While I have no issue with Greek life as an institution and social system, I must say that you’ve missed the root of anti-Greek sentiment, Mr. Daley. It’s certainly true that there are a large number who hate fraternities because of their bad experiences with a few bad apples; it’s also true that many fraternities do make an effort to contribute actual community service. However, I’ve noticed that even in the more respectful and rational articles such as this, the preoccupation is with “image” rather than behavior. Even otherwise ethical men seem to have no real issue with the often horrific actions committed by fraternity men, but rather only with how said actions *reflect* on the organization.  I understand that it’s wrong to hold all fraternity men responsible for the actions of a few, but it is unacceptable that the focus should be on apologetics and constant defense of “the majority,” rather than actually fixing the issues the system has perpetuated. Is it true that just as many men outside fraternities commit sexual assault as their Greek counterparts? Sure. But the difference is that many chapters expect members to protect one another, rather than victims, in the name of “brotherhood.” I insist that if fraternities are sincere in their commitment to cultivating groups of men dedicated to something higher than themselves (as is commonly stated), they shift the focus away from protecting their image and toward curtailing disgusting behavior, and from loyalty to “brotherhood” to a commitment to ethical behavior and the good of society. It’s perfectly fine to develop exclusive relationships with a group of likeminded men; but it’s wrong to allow these relationships to supersede expectations of moral and ethical conduct.

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