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Many parents are concerned when their sons tell them they want to rush in the fall. With all the negative media attention fraternities get, which is almost always heavily biased and exaggerated, if not outright falsified, you really can’t blame them. Sadly, the information many parents are getting misleads them and causes them to believe that fraternities will turn their sons into drunk, obnoxious, misogynistic rapists. The level of concern parents have about fraternities is so great sometimes that they’re now looking for answers from the real authorities on the matter: local newspapers.
One parent decided to ask a question in a Q&A column of one of the most reputable newspapers in the land: The Tri County Record. As its website claims, the Record serves Berks, Chester, and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania. This area, sometimes known as “The Amish Country,” is obviously a good place to look for answers regarding college fraternity life. Don’t question it. Just accept it.
The concerned parent asked a pretty common question that some of your parents may have been thinking about when you were considering rushing.
Q: Our son is heading off for his first year at college and wants to pledge to a fraternity. Is this a good idea for a freshman? I don’t know much about fraternities.
Pretty straight forward question. The author, Jim Daly, started off with a classically vague answer.
Jim: The answer to this question depends on a number of factors.
At least he didn’t start off by saying something like, “Fraternities are inherently evil and allowing your son to become a part of one will lead him down a path straight to damnation.” I was kind of half expecting that.
Jim Daly, who is not nearly as cool as John Daly, continued on and explained what those factors are.
Not every fraternity resembles “Animal House.” While some may be considered almost entirely social in nature, others seek to bring together students who share similar interests or who are involved in the same academic disciplines. There are service-oriented fraternities, ethnically and linguistically based fraternities, and even some fraternities whose purpose is primarily religious or spiritual.
First off, he’s absolutely right. Not every fraternity resembles Animal House. Some do, and the rest are working their way to getting to that level of debauchery. Now, Jim goes on to say that not all fraternities are social in nature. This is also true. My chapter, as well as many of yours, did countless hours of community service (some court mandated, but it’s the thought that counts) and gave back to the community. As for service-oriented fraternities, while they are holding up signs collecting change to fight diseases, we’re throwing parties and raising tens of thousands of dollars simply by saying, “It’s for the kids.”
Also, just a heads up, Jimbo, but nobody seriously considers service, academic, or linguistic fraternities to be real fraternities. They’re just clubs with Greek letters, champ.
That being the case, it’s important for you to discern what type of fraternity your son is hoping to join. Unfortunately, many do have a reputation for wild behavior and crazy parties.
What Mr. Daly should have said is that you have to figure out what kind of fraternity your son will join, as some have a reputation for throwing ragers and having a great time. You should encourage him to try to join one of those chapters.
And some campuses are known for these types of frat houses more than others.
Hopefully, your kid was smart enough to apply to one of the fun schools, Concerned Parent. Otherwise, he’ll be sitting in his dorm room, sipping on Mountain Dew, and playing video games for the next four years.
Big Jim then started getting into the serious stuff associated with pledging.
It’s also critical that you consider your son’s character. Is he firmly grounded in his beliefs? Does he know his own mind, or is he easily influenced by others?
I’m a huge fan of good character and holding true to one’s beliefs. As for the knowing his mind and being influenced by others, it really doesn’t matter. No matter how mentally tough he is, he’ll change. This isn’t because of a lack of strength on his part; it’s simply just that all pledges will break. It’s science. For the record, if this kid gets a bid and pledges, he’s so incredibly fucked if the actives find out that his parents sent in a question about joining a fraternity to a local newspaper.
After all those great tips, the author finished up with some serious advice.
If you feel that he lacks the maturity to handle a fraternity at this point, encourage him to look for loyal companions elsewhere by pointing him toward other academic and social groups on campus.
Look, your kid is going off to college. It really isn’t up to you to determine if he’s mature enough to handle a fraternity. Honestly, if he lacks maturity now, after pledging he’ll be a responsible young adult, albeit one with a drinking problem and a strange, deep-seeded fear of Dolly Parton’s song “Jolene.” If being in a fraternity doesn’t work out for him, he can always join one of those nerd clubs, or as Jim Daly so eloquently described them, “other academic and social groups on campus.”
[via Tri Count Record]