Will You Let Your Son Join a Fraternity?

I am a proud member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. I was initiated at Nu Chapter at the University of Oregon my freshman year and I am the current Chapter Advisor for Epsilon Omicron Chapter at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Aren’t I a cute little sophomore?

Joining was one of the best decisions I made in my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I honestly would have dropped out of school entirely if it had not been for the support of the women of Nu Chapter.

Nu Chapter’s class of 2010, I would not have graduated if it wasn’t for these ladies.

Gamma Phi taught me to hold myself to a higher standard, respect people from different backgrounds and circumstances, and how to contribute to the greater good. During my collegiate time, all members had to maintain a GPA of 2.75 (B-‘s or better). In addition, you had to do community service each term. And, you had to attend social issues ( a guest speaker on campus who presents a relevant topic such a human trafficking or alcoholism). There were mandatory attendance events like weekly chapter meetings and philanthropies. You can also hold officer positions too, and I held several over the years.

Flipping pancakes for our annual philanthropy, Pancake Breakfast.
We raise money for our national philanthropy Campfire USA. I loved being Philanthropy Chair.

And yes, I went to some wild parties that I will never tell my mother about. But you cannot attend parties if you do not meet all these requirements and follow all the rules. If you violate the rules, we have our own disciplinary system in place so we can hold our sisters accountable for their poor choices. It teaches that you must earn the things you want in life. Greek Life is nothing like Animal House (which happened to be filmed at Oregon).

Despite being filmed on my campus, this was SO NOT my experience.
Though I love this movies and it’s funny say
partied in Omega House during college.
source

I also love being an Advisor. Over the past year and a half, I have seen the members of Epsilon Omicron grow into strong women and outstanding leaders.

So, this begs the questions: Will I let my children join a fraternity or sorority? The answer is yes and no….let me explain…

First of all, the sad truth that not everyone is meant to be Greek. Some people will never like the structure and ritual—and there is nothing wrong with that. And they wouldn’t be secret societies if everyone was in them! My husband is amazing man, but he is so not a fraternity man. He is what we call an independent. If my son (or maybe my daughter one day) takes after his dad with that independent spirit, I would never pressure him into joining.

Second, there is the issue of non-conformity in the some Greek Systems. While some states/universities do an amazing job of ensuring the safety of all students, other do not. The State of Oregon has very strict hazing laws (zero tolerance actually) and Gamma Phi Beta has very strict housing/membership requirements (in addition to a zero tolerance hazing rule). So pretty much it is impossible for any Chapter to last in the State of Oregon if they try to be Animal House (and I did see two bad chapters get shut down during my collegiate time–and trust me they deserved it). A lot of other states have just as high of standard for nationally recognized Greek houses (see California’s here). So if my child went to school in a state with these regulations, I would most likely approve.

Nothing like this ever happened to me, and should never happen to anybody.
source

Third, there is the issue of local chapters, ones that are not affiliated with a nationally recognized Greek organization. Local chapter usually consist of a few college students who come together to form a small, localized house. Some do this in order to establish Greek life on their campus, in hopes of one day be colonized and accepted into a national organization. Some do this to start a new national organization one day. But there are some (but not all) that do not want to ever be a national organization and want to follow their own rules—meaning they can haze and not have to worry about grades.

My wonderful Epsilon Omicron Chapter collegiates at Fall 2013 recruitment.
I took this picture because I was so proud of them. No Delta House here.

An example of such a local organization actually comes from UCSC and was featured on MTV back in 2004. The bad reputation this behavior left on the campus is still effecting Greek life today! When I tried to introduce myself to some key people on campus last year, the first thing most of them said was “Why are you contacting me? Did your members get in trouble?” Now there are rumors that all of Greek Life are wild drunks, which is making it harder for me to start the process of getting them a Chapter house. No child of mine will ever be allowed to join an unstructured organization. I will never allow my child to haze or harass people (or barbecue a beloved campus animal). I will not spend good money on a education if they just want to goof off all day. As a side note, my current collegiates do not act this either nor would anyone in Gamma Phi Beta allow them to.

And lastly, there is the issue of why they want to join. I have been through several recruitment processes now—as potential member hoping to be selected by a chapter, a initiated member trying to select new sisters, and as an Advisor overseeing the process. I have heard practically every reason for wanting to join a sorority there is. Everything from “I want friends for life!” to “I want to kiss a lot of frat boys.” I personally went through recruitment because I felt lost in life and hoped to find some guidance. If my child wanted to join for a similar positive reason, I would absolutely support it. But if I hear the words party, beer, sex, drugs, slacking off, or hazing I will bring their butt home instantly and figure out where I went wrong.

Epsilon Omicron Chapter’s Spring Recruitment 2013.
I’m a sister for life. I would be proud if my son or daughter
wanted to carry on my Greek legacy.

I would be very proud if my son joined a Fraternity one day and matured into one of the outstanding gentlemen that I had the privilege to meet during college. And if I have a daughter one day, I would be more than proud to place my Gamma Phi Beta pin on her one day and call me my sister (I could not type that without tearing up). But only if it right for them, right for the organization, and helps them become a better person.

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