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Should Fraternities Be Encouraged?

February 15, 2012

Being a second semester junior, I think it is safe to say I have had adequate time to live the “college life”.  With nearly three years of experience at Wabash,  I feel as if I have experienced almost all Wabash has to offer. I’ve experienced the athletics first hand and as a spectator, partied with the best Wabash has to offer, and done my fair share of studying. I am a current brother in the Lambda Chi Alpha house at Wabash College.  I lived in the house through my first two years in college. Without the structure that fraternities can provide, this is my first year actually having to be a responsible adult and manage money along with time.  I had to learn (and still am) how to cook.  Living on my own is much harder than I could ever have imagined, but nonetheless a great experience.

Our rush process at Wabash College is much different than the way it is ran at other schools. At Wabash it is highly encouraged for students to join fraternities.  Wabash holds Honor Scholar Weekend, which is a designated weekend in which prospects come and stay and experience life and also rush fraternities.  During this weekend, students are most typically placed in fraternities to stay over the weekend, to help push prospects towards joining a fraternity.  Therefore, Wabash rushes while the prospects are still high school students.  This sounds like a great idea in theory, but the problem is that the prospects don’t receive efficient time to make a decision as to which fraternity suits them best.  After being enrolled for three years,  I have noticed several instances in which this has caused internal problems within many of the houses.

Wabash’s intent in pushing people towards joining fraternities is so that these young adults (including myself) will main active in Wabash activities.  I’ll be the first to admit that fraternities reinforce school pride by competing with each other (Beta sucks).  Fraternities do a good job of structuring individual students by constantly keeping them busy, teaching skills such as time management,  and enforcing good grades.  Fraternities give the student the opportunity to succeed by providing a path to structure one’s life, while still finding plenty of time to have fun.

All of this sounds ideal but the fraternity life is not suitable for everyone  It takes a special type of person to join a fraternity.  I have seen fraternities also be the reason for a great number of my closest friends to leave Wabash, unable to experience the great education that Wabash has to offer.  10 of my closest friends at Wabash have all dropped out due to issues with their respective fraternities.  While admitting Wabash was just not the right fit for some, a few of them did receive what Wabash has to offer and took it with them and used it to better their life, all that is missing is the little piece of paper signifying that they did indeed receive the proper education.  (I greatly disagree with educational system in America because it has taught us to value the name of the school on the diploma rather than the individual’s particular skills.) For nearly the same reason that I disagree with our educational system, people join fraternities, not all, but most.

A fraternity is supposed to be a brotherhood.  It is supposed to be a group of guys that have each other’s back no matter what, such as brothers do.  It is nearly impossible to foster brotherhood when young adults join a house, in which they might not even identify with, for the purpose of building their resume.  People do good deeds and run for positions within the house, not because it is a good thing to do, but because it looks good on a resume.  For this reason, most, not all, but most, fraternities have a fake sense of “brotherhood”.  It is not much more than living in a dormitory.    A group of guys that just happen to live in the same house and hang out with each other.

Living on my own this year has been a great experience for me.  I have not only matured a great deal amount, I have also met many more people I would have never met if I would have continued to live in the fraternity.  I interact more around campus now than I did living in the fraternities.  Wabash alumni provide an exceptional network for each other in life, and I have expanded my network more than I ever thought possible attending Wabash.  Many of these people are good friends that will continue to be my good friends after college, which I value just as much, if not more so than the actual education itself.  In a sense, I’ve got more out of Wabash this year than any other year. So when pondering the question of whether fraternities should be considered, I think it should be left for the individual to decide.  I wouldn’t change a thing with my experience thus far at Wabash. With Wabash’s rush process, it is hard for prospects to find a proper fit for them, so maybe this is something worth examining.  Many people do in fact find the right fit for them, which in that case, fraternities should be encouraged.  In terms of my personal experience and gaining the knowledge that I have after living on my own, I think it is also a great experience for a young adult to be responsible for themselves.  It’s hard to be responsible for your other brothers if you can’t yet be responsible for yourself.

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