Fraternity & Sorority Life

Fact or Fiction: Myths about Fraternities & Sororities

Myth #1: Hazing is only a problem for fraternities and sororities.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.

Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes go awry.
Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others --- it is victimization. Hazing is pre-meditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and sometimes life-threatening.

Myth #3: Fraternities are just like the ones in movies (Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, School Daze, Neighbors,etc.)
Fact: Nobody likes stereotypes. Unfortunately, because of movies like the ones mentioned above, fraternities and sororities have been categorized as partiers, irresponsible and abusive.  In reality, fraternities and sororities are values-based organizations dedicated to the development of character and lifelong friendship.

Chapters that perpetuate those behaviors seen in the movies find very quickly that they are operating not as a fraternity but rather a drinking club. Inter/National organizations, college and university campuses, and individual chapters all take very seriously the ideals upon which fraternities were founded. The international fraternity movement is enjoying growth today because of the efforts of so many to move away from the scenes of Animal House and the like.

Myth #4: If you are a part of a fraternity/sorority, you have poor academic performance.
Fact: Fraternities and sororities do a lot more on campus than solely focus on academics; however, academics are the reason the students are here, and academic excellence serves as a core mission of each fraternity and sorority chapter. Research has shown that graduation rates, retention, and grade point averages are higher among those students who choose to incorporate fraternities/sororities into their collegiate experiences. 

Myth #5: Fraternities and sororities encourage binge drinking and drug use among their members.
Fact: Due to the fact that Greek chapters comprise the largest student organization nationwide, Greek communities are constantly in the media spotlight. Social problems such as binge drinking and drug use occur in nearly every facet of society. Because of the scrutiny of fraternity and sorority life, media coverage may make it appear that fraternity and sorority life has a higher rate of these social issues, but that is not actually the case.

Myth #6: Fraternities and sororities are not conducive to social and spiritual development.
Fact: One of the things these organizations can be most proud of is the type of programming and growth opportunties they provide to their members. Every semester, there are several events designed to foster social interaction and interpersonal skills. Young men and women are regularly encouraged to meet and interact with members of their own and other chapters. Social events, inter-chapter functions, and inclusive community service projects allow for networking and help to foster strong bonds of friendship. Another often overlooked facet of the Greek community is the strong foundation for spiritual development. These organizations are all founded in moral principles, and have guiding values to live by. Members are encouraged to seek out experiences that align with organizationals values to help develop a sense of spirituality. 

Myth #7: Fraternities and sororities do not foster leadership skills.
Fact: There is never a shortage of leadership opportunities available to undergraduates. Greek letter organizations offer other great resources for developing leadership abilities with an abundance of role models and mentors within each chapter. Students can choose their own level of involvement, from committee volunteer to executive board leader - and anywhere in between.

Myth #8: Joining Greek life means you're just paying for your friends.
Fact: The widely held belief that a fraternity/sorority experience is costly, shallow and materialistic is incredibly ignorant and unsubstantiated. A person must pay housing costs in any apartment, facility, or residence hall. It is a common misconception that all fraternities are rich. This notion, however widespread, is simply an incorrect generalization. The fact of the matter is that fraternity/sorority members pay to live together just as any other roommates pay to live in the same place. The fact that social opportunities are readily available in the Greek community does not equate to automatic friendships. It is probably also fair to say that most individuals, Greek or non-Greek, tend to socialize to a certain extent with the people with whom they live. One thing that the Greek community can be most proud of is the opportunity to develop diverse friendships.

Myth #9: Fraternities do not benefit surrounding communities.
Fact: A rather unfortunate and ironic byproduct of constantly being in the public spotlight is that Greek communities are blamed for social problems and isolated tragedies, but rarely given the credit they deserve for positive contributions to their communities. Each national fraternity has an established philanthropy, or community service program, that raises money for a charity of choice. These philanthropies are carried out by member chapters at various universities all over the nation. The community service programs allow chapters to give back to the campus and worldwide community. These nationally designed service projects make up only a small percentage of the actual service projects carried out by Greek communities. These community service events are fun and often double as social events because chapters regularly donate their time and energy to events sponsored by other chapters.

Myth #10: Joining a chapter eliminates the ability to develop friendships with other students on campus.
Fact: The belief that membership in a Greek chapter prevents friendship with non-Greeks is absolutely ridiculous. Interaction with students in and out of the Greek community happens all the time. Friends are made in the classroom, residence halls, in all types of extra-curricular activities, and the list goes on and on. 

Myth #11: Parents cannot be involved in their student's Greek experience.
Fact: While parents might not be able to attend all fraternity/sorority events, most chapters host at least one event each semester that welcomes parents to campus to meet fraternity/sorority members, advisors, and get a feel for what the orgnaization has to offer. Many chapters also send regular newsletters to parents. If students participate in Greek-wide events hosted on campus, parents are welcome to attend as well. 

Myth #12: Greek chapters may be irresponsible because they do not answer to a higher authority.
Fact: There is a common misconception that because Greek chapters are run and maintained by the undergraduates who join them, there is complete lack of authority and control.

In fact, there is a very elaborate hierarchy in place to facilitate the success and safety of undergraduate members. Within each chapter, there are student leaders like the president, treasurer and academic chairman, to name a few. These students have alumni volunteers who serve as advisors in a guiding role for the college students. In addition to the alumni advisors, all student organizations at NIU are required to have a faculty/staff advisor who is employed by the university. This person serves as a liaison to help answer university-related questions for the students. Most of the chapters at NIU are affiliated with a large inter/national organization. These national organizations ultimately determine the status of their member chapters. Therefore, chapters must meet certain guidelines and complete the appropriate paperwork required by their national organizations. Because Greek chapters are registered with universities as student organizations, they must also abide by university policies. These regulations are imposed by university administrators. The final and most stringent set of policies that Greek chapters must abide by are state and federal laws. In conclusion, there are many bodies in place to help facilitate a safe and appropriate environment for undergraduate members of the Greek community.

Back to Parents Page