Saturday, March 5, 2011

The true essence of brotherhood and sisterhood

“Why should I join a college fraternity?” is a question often heard on today’s campus. This is a legitimate question, and deserves thoughtful, honest answers.

The collegiate officers and members should clearly explained to the male and female aspirants/prospects the beauty of joining our organization such that, a college fraternity exists on the premise that man is by nature a social being and wants to associate with his fellow man. He cannot associate equally with all of them, or even many of them, but he may enjoy close relationships with some of them. A fraternity provides structure, an environment in which intimate friendships can flourish and lead to true brotherhood.

Members are drawn together by shared goals and common experiences. It is also more likely than not that a young man will find in a fraternity friends whose interests and backgrounds are different from his own. Learning to live in close relationships with members of a group is a thoroughly valuable experience. Social action requires organization, and fraternities are effective promoters of group activity because of their organization.

A college fraternity, not unlike any other worthwhile human institution, encourages its members to make a commitment to something outside themselves, to something larger than themselves. In a fraternity, commitment is directed, in part, to the programs of the organization, to the things the group does as a whole, but mostly it is a commitment to people - to friends.

As students make their commitment to others, a fraternity provides a structure within which this commitment can be carried out. Their dedication may be formalized in rituals of orientation and initiation, as well as during a renewal of these vows in formal meetings from week to week. Today’s society tends to label ritual as an outdated carry-over of “nineteenth-century hocus pocus,” however a ritual that is well done and seriously approached makes a profound impact upon those who participate in it.

They may also ask the purpose of having rituals. Ritual is but one way of expressing a fraternity’s ideals and aspirations. Closely associated with ritual is symbolism. Whether the student is ready to concede the point or not, we all live by symbols. Although it is true that some symbols have lost their meaning and are irrelevant to man in his present-day world, many symbols persist as graphic reminders of a man’s commitments in life. A fraternity’s name, badge, coat of arms, songs and publications, whether local or national, are symbolic and can have great value if a member is willing to permit his life to be touched by them.

Fraternities make possible a unique experience in living. The fraternity member knows that there are many things that only individuals can do, things for which no organization of people is necessary or even desirable. He knows too, however, that there are many worthwhile enterprises - on and off the college campus - that can best be accomplished by groups of people working together. Such cooperative effort is a hallmark of fraternity living.

That Fraternities provide abundant opportunities for self-development. Upon examination, members of the same fraternity may prove to be remarkably diverse in tastes and talents, in thought and behavior. It is indeed advantageous to the fraternity as a whole, if members are encouraged to exercise their talents, and make their personal unique contributions, to “do their own thing.” Each of them can find ways to empower the chapter and to develop his own potential as a member of the group. Members are afforded an opportunity to give of themselves in their own way. That is the road to self-realization. Moreover, a fraternity is a structured organization so opportunities for leadership are many.

From a fraternity the member can learn much that complements the instruction he receives in the classroom. In addition to encouraging good scholarship, a fraternity helps the member understand more about human relations and about himself. The lessons learned in this laboratory of social education can serve a man for a lifetime.

One purpose is that of sharing relations. By providing an "extended family relationship, membership makes the adjustment to college easier and quicker. A big sister is a special friend who helps in this early adjustment and is a special person to whom a new student can turn." . . . "Each fraternity and sorority provides close personal friendships, which endure over a lifetime." . . . "Fraternity is living and working and enjoying life with one's friends. The years of experience will be invaluable to the individual in his dealings with people the rest of his life. One learns to be a individual and at the same time relegate his doings to those of society."

A second purpose is increased loyalty to Alma Mater. "The loyalty developed in the institutions allows both alumni and undergraduates to work together to renew relationships to the organization and the college." . . . "Statistics show that fraternity members are the largest contributors and supporters of their Alma Mater. " . . . "For the college, fraternities play a significant role in maintaining a sense of identity and friendship for members which translates into loyalty to the institution when they become alumni."

A third purpose is to provide social activities. "The college fraternity often provides a core social activity on campus, provides the driving spirit behind many extra-curricular activities, and gives the institution a sense of spirit." . . . "The benefits of the system include sponsoring events for the entire campus."

A fourth purpose is service projects for the betterment of mankind. "The fraternity and sorority teaches the importance of service to the community and the college. It support numerous and varied philanthropic endeavors, serve as scout leaders, to participate volunteering activities in times of environmental crises such as typhoons, floods. Ready to share to the less furtunate in any forms of assistance and support.

A fifth purpose, and one cited even by all organizations as one of its most important purposes, is to develop intellectual vitality. "Self-discipline and supervised study are cornerstones of organizations and develop a solid reputation for acceptance on campus. The atmosphere of chapters fosters intellectual ideas." . . . "Fraternities and sororities promote high academic standards and achievement by providing programs in time budgeting, how to study, take an exam, etc." . . . "Sororities are firmly grounded in the precept that, above all else, commitment to academic work is the essence of the student's role at her selected college. This precept is placed into action through active scholarship programs, ranging from study hours to tutorials, from special help to orientation sessions. Fraternity and Sorority chapters further augment the efforts of the college itself by carefully orientation new pledges and members to resources available through the college, such as the counseling service or college tutorial center. Additional support materials and awards incentive programs are often provided from the national level as well."

A sixth purpose, is to provide outlets for inter-college associations and friendships. Membership allows undergraduates to share ideas with students on other campuses. Each fraternity and sorority is leadership conferences, both on regional and national level, to build undergraduate programming and professional guidance for leaders in each chapter." . . . "Fraternity membership provides a support system not only during college by beyond through Collegiate Chapters, alumnae chapters, national publications and networking programs".

A seventh purpose is to provide guidance for moral and ethical growth. "Members learn to take responsibility for conduct and behavior of members and to handle problems which may arise through proper and fair procedures, always providing due process." . . . "The fraternity joins with the College in setting reasonable standards for comfort, safety, and acceptable behavior." . . . "Anti-social behavior, lack of social discipline and gross social activity under the pretense of boosting college spirit must not be tolerated. Fraternity members should be committed to helping each other become more humane, competent, responsive, mature and committed to the development of awareness and understanding of the individual and the environments in which he lives." . . . "Each group has its individual ritual, but all of these rituals have the common thread of high ideals and honor. Sororities systematically challenge members to implement those ideals in everyday life."

The eighth purpose stated for fraternities and sororities is to provide opportunities for leadership. "The students involved in a college fraternity enjoy a sense of shared responsibility, self-governance, and financial self-sufficiency." . . . "Members learn leadership and followership." . . . "Chapter management and organization provide a climate for development of leadership skills and related areas of personal growth. Systematic officer training workshops provide know-how and personal skills. Goal-setting sessions at chapter meetings spill over to personal goal-setting even years after college. Leadership positions in undergraduate chapters increase personal self-confidence and readiness to enter the job market."