The New Fraternity Culture Essay Research Paper

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The New Fraternity Culture Essay, Research Paper The New Fraternity Culture After drinking from a keg of beer stashed in the basement of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house at the University of Michigan last December, a group of pledges stripped to their boxer shorts and lined up, ready to endure their next torturous test of brotherhood. As two other fraternity members watched, a ?pledge educator? pointed what he thought was an unloaded BB gun at the pledges? various body parts. He was simply trying to scare them. When he approached the seventh student in line, the ?educator? pointed the gun downward, two inches away from the pledge?s penis, and fired. Unexpectedly, a pellet shot out (Reisberg A59). Fraternities have been in existence for over a century. They were

established to nurture pride, leadership, unity, and commitment (Nate 18). Although some fraternities still embrace these values, this does not make up for the dangerous behavior that most fraternities engage in. Alcohol abuse has become far too large of the college social scene and fraternities are its most publicized defendants. Rowdy keg parties have replaced the values and ideals that were once the basis of fraternities, as binge drinking becomes the core of their brotherhood. Each year on campuses throughout this country, binge drinking causes students to suffer academically while risking their health and safety, as well as that of the rest of the campus community. Contrary to the many members firmly entrenched in the fraternity culture, several national fraternities are

trying to dispel this image. They have devised programs which emphasize academic development, leadership, and community service, while at the same time taking the focus off alcohol and hazing. The first of the Greek-letter societies, Phi Beta Kappa, was founded on December 5, 1776, with the aims of creating a ?scholastic, inspirational, and fraternal? society. The founders of Phi Beta Kappa named friendship, morality, and literature as essential characteristics. Laws provided for a ?reverent opening and conduct of meetings, encouraged sobriety, and demanded ethical ideals superior to those manifested by a rival society? (Voorhes 8-12). The growth of the system was gradual, for it was not until 1825 that Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi, and Delta Phi were established. The decade of the

thirties produced another trio of fraternities: Alpha Delta Phi, Psi Upsilon, and Beta Theta Pi. The period preceding the Civil War witnessed the establishment of most of the remaining general fraternities of ?present larger extension? (Nate 18-38). Oliver Wendell Holmes, a student at Harvard in 1859, captures the immortality of loyal friendships and high ideals in a message to his classmates: Then here?s to our boyhood, its gold and its gray! The stars of its winter, the dew of May! And when we have done with our life-lasting toys, Dear Father, take care of Thy children, thy boys. The founding of the fraternities was at the hands of men who set up high life-ideals for themselves and those who would come after them. The more recent years have strengthened the chapters through the

development of their national organizations and a more direct alumni co-operation (Nate 60). As fraternity chapters grow stronger, they are slowly losing sight of their fundamental purpose. The values and ideals that once served as the basis of fraternities have been replaced in some chapter houses by excessive drinking and brutal hazing practices. Through the new fraternity culture, binge drinking becomes interwoven into college life. The Federal Substance Abuse Prevention reports that undergraduate students currently spend $4.2 billion a year on booze ? far more than they spend on their textbooks. An advertisement being run in college newspapers by VivaSmart, an online textbook seller, actually features the headline, ?More on Beer, Less on Books,? accompanied by an explanatory