No standards can entertain the individuals who focus on the negatives Greek Life offers to the world. These proverbial “car crashes” people in the media listen for as the crunch of the two forces, Greeks & Society, come into contact.
Frat = rape x binge drinking + discrimination / socioeconomic status
This equation, though simple, has too much implication into the assumptions and stereotypes given to brothers as well as sisters in organizations throughout the Higher Education establishment. In the news, it is unfortunate to find the frequent spotlight on Greek men and their behaviors. However, these behaviors, though harmful, do not only show a lack in education but a lack in support and understanding.
The word “frat” is as bad a term to members in a men’s Greek organization as the various cultures who are given labels. As we learn in multicultural courses, culture is everywhere and everyone belongs to a culture; it could be tattoo culture, culture associated with ones race, or the other personal, important identities people internalize. The message, do not disrespect someones culture.
Currently, 90% (this is an estimate, not an actual number*) of the articles stemming from Greek related incidents coin the word “frat” as the organization under scrutiny or suspect. Please, when reviewing a case or reporting on an incident about discrimination, do not use the word “frat” to describe the organization. You are being no better than the organization themselves. Additionally, as in culture, stereotypes can originate from words to place individuals within a certain understanding. The common “frat” stereotype is the alcohol, the rape culture, discrimination, and high SES that rips through Greek organizations; however, this stigma becomes a label and associates isolated incidents on close to 400,000 men who wish to improve their values and internalize the letters that represent tradition, historic accomplishments, brotherhood, and the ritualistic undertones which bond those members together. Fraternity is the one and only word to use in describing a men’s Greek organization.
My challenge to administrators, as I am searching to become one in Greek Life, is to step up and not let these incidents occur. This is not to disregard the institutions working to prevent such incidences on various campuses or education into personal/professional growth, but are the Coordinators, Assistant/Associate Directors, Directors, etc. invested in making Greek Life change the stereotype and committed to the members beyond their own campuses?
As important as this involvement is to a limitless amount of men and women, it is common for me to see less care from those who work with these populations, letting them live as independent entities and assuming good will, without the way. I will not support or condone the behaviors of the men or women who taint and disrespect others in the name of the Greek organization. I will also not stand for people who do not understand the experience, and disrespect the work and meaning in the letters I wear or pin on my suit.
If Greek Life will survive on college campuses, it needs to be more than education, investment, and collaboration. We need to start changing the name from “frat” to fraternity. It might start at the institution, but it will not change if the lens is small. To change the tide, everyone in this population and those who coordinate and advise this population needs to look beyond ones own institution & chapters to neighbors, community members, Sororities, rivals, cross-country Greek Life systems, and headquarters. It is often stated that it starts with one. It starts with one, one word, fraternity. However, we are all responsible.
End frat and watch how an organization and the lens changes in your vision.
*this post focuses on men’s Greek organizations due to recent incidents, name change, and severe natures – women’s Greek organizations are also targets*