5 Myths About Frat Life You’ll Learn During Rush Week
That orientation day involvement fair can make or break a college career. One wrong move, and you could end up on an ultimate frisbee team, a musical improv troupe or worse — rushing a Greek organization.
Now, let’s be clear: There are lots of fraternities and sororities that serve an essential function as campus cultural hubs, and rallying points for political organizing. There are also Greek-letter honor societies that are perfectly chill. What we’re talking about here are the “social fraternities.” The Animal Houses. The straight-up frats.
Watch “If Frats and Sororities Were Honest,” the latest episode of Honest Ads, where Brother Roger will frat-splain what you’re really signing up for. And read below to learn what these bros are actually saying when they feed you these five major selling points of Greek life.
‘Partying’ = Altering Your Brain Chemistry
Generally speaking, your frontal lobe doesn’t stop developing until about the age of 25. But you do have some control over that — if you start funneling an addictive drug down your gullet three nights a week, for example, you can stunt your executive functions before you’re even out of your teens.
A college campus, and especially the frat houses therein, are like the Library of Alexandria for drinking games, meticulously cataloging all their obscure regional variations. Frat Row during orientation week is essentially a neighborhood full of charismatic strangers ushering you to the starting line of a lifelong alcohol dependence.
‘School Spirit’ = Grooming
We’re not done talking about booze just yet. Modern Greek life was made in a lab to force you to associate an endorphin rush with your alma mater, via mood-altering substances. Orientation parties, football pre-games, homecoming events… your first semester is packed with more school spirit (and, not coincidentally, more Natty Light) than you’ve seen in your entire life.
But whether you like it or not, it’s illegal to give alcohol to teenagers. Those frat parties are, technically and unfortunately, mass grooming events. Sure, most freshmen will leave with little more than a National Lampoon-worthy flashback sequence in their head, and a little puke on their shoes. But we can’t ignore the more sinister stuff that does occasionally go down.
‘Brotherhood’ = Complicity
Again, most members of a frat will never do anything worse than TP the dean’s house. But one study found that they are, statistically, three times more likely to commit assault. Most Greek organizations educate members on what constitutes assault, and what to do when they witness it. And that’s a great start — but it doesn’t cancel out decades of a culture of blind loyalty. Lots of otherwise innocent, well-intentioned kids end up supporting the bad behavior of the few absolute sociopaths in their ranks, out of a misguided ideal of “brotherhood.”
‘Pledging’ = Hazing
Once you flip that switch from “Rush” to “Pledge,” in many cases, you’re dirt to those folks who just spent a week convincing you they’re your new best friends. Sure, hazing in any form is officially banned. Technically, all they’re allowed to do to you is shake your hand and welcome you aboard. But they have to do something to make it a challenge, right?
The fact that just about everything constitutes hazing creates a slippery slope of consent, starting with harmless tasks at the beginning of the semester, culminating in emotional torture by the end. You agree to sort sprinkles by color in a dark basement, and a few weeks later, you’re lining up for your nightly verbal lashing at the hands of your future “sisters.” God damn does a little ultimate friz sound nice right about now.
‘History’ = History (Derogatory)
Lots of this bad behavior is rooted in “tradition.” Sometimes that means Brother Gurk chugged a pitcher of ketchup in 1979, so now you have to, too. But it can get much darker than that. A big selling point of many frats is their long, storied history. So it’s worth finding out, oh I don’t know, what side of the Civil War this organization fought on.
Of course you can’t pin the misdeeds of some 19th-century yahoos on modern day econ majors. But it’s extremely fair to ask: What have you done to address your legacy, if it’s got questionable roots? There are, unfortunately, still Greek organizations who use confederate imagery in either their public or top-secret literature. For better or for worse, just about all of those secret documents have leaked online by now, so it’s pretty easy to find out who’s got confederate flags in the back of the closet.
Watch “If Frats and Sororities Were Honest” to learn more about the secret life of bros.