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As we enter the third week of the semester, we find ourselves at the start of the fraternity recruitment or rush period. This is a time when the different IFC fraternities officially recruit members into their respective brotherhoods. You may have already seen the A frames, and over the next few days, you will see banners, flyers and newspaper ads.

One of the challenges is that many male students do not understand the whole fraternity process and have been impacted by the stereotypical image of fraternity life. This stereotype is shaped by the scenes ranging from “Animal House” to the “Greek” TV show, where fraternities are seen as just about parties, alcohol and girls.

I admit that I was one of those who, as an undergraduate, never really understood the Greek system. At my alma mater, the Greek system seemed so exclusive and controlling of key aspects of student life. When I, as a non Greek, wanted to get involved, I was rebuffed because I wasn’t Greek.

When I came to Virginia Tech, I came across a Greek system that was very different and more inclusive. I learned from my Resident Advisors as well as my graduate assistants that were also members of Greek organizations. As I learned more, my own biases started to change.

At that time eight years ago, I was approached by a brother in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity to serve as its faculty adviser. It turns out that I had known several of the brothers, as they had been past residents in Pritchard. I agreed and that started a process in which I became fully integrated with the Greek system. It completely changed my perspective and professional career. I would be subsequently initiated as a brother and the rest is now history.

This experience of being a part of a brotherhood is a powerful one, and we can see this not only in fraternities but also in other groups, such as athletic teams. Society often dictates that men can’t have meaningful relationships or that college aged men are not focused enough.

I learned from my days in Pritchard about the power that male role models could have on college men and how being intentional and proactive in programming can make a difference. The same can be said of the power of sisterhood for the sororities.

I have found that the bond of brotherhood is a valuable one as it has helped me to grow as an individual and also as a man. The fraternity has allowed me to develop meaningful relationships not only within the brotherhood, but also with fraternity alumni. It has allowed me to learn more about the organization and has increased my involvement on the national level.

I am not alone with this experience, as there are other members of the Tech faculty and staff that are brothers in their respective fraternities.

With so many different fraternities on campus, it can be daunting for college men to make a decision and to decide why being a part of a fraternity is important. As with any organization, you want to be a part of a group in which you are welcomed.

Unfortunately, the value of being a member of a fraternity appears to be diminishing on college campuses. In fall 2009, only 325 men accepted bids to join these groups. That number is extremely low compared to the potential available at Tech. Based on conversations with advisers and members in other groups, most of the organizations are facing challenges in their recruitment of new members.

From my vantage point, the main factor is that we have lost the ability to communicate effectively about what it means to be a part of a fraternity brotherhood. If we can’t effectively communicate the value and importance of the experience, then other factors begin to influence the decision.

Among these other factors are the issues of cost involved and the stereotype of “buying your friends.” Most, if not all, chapters have requirements for dues. These dues are used to pay expenses associated with the national organization, such as insurance and other expenses of the chapter. The stereotype is false, because why would you want to join a group where you don’t know anyone?

There are many advantages to being in a fraternity or related Greek letter organization that include building deep bonds of brotherhood, learning from alumni and enhancing leadership skills.

I have learned a lot from my experience as we have come together as a fraternal family. As brothers, we have suffered when one of us has lost loved ones, we have celebrated each other’s accomplishments, and have been there to support each other. As a family, we have had our disagreements, but as a family, we as brothers come together and move forward.

Just as my perspective was changed, I would encourage students to think about the fraternity experience. Not all fraternities are the same, and I would encourage you to learn more about them.

As this fraternity recruitment period begins, I encourage you to think about learning about these groups. I will always treasure my experience as an adviser and brother in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.
where can i buy doc martens Value of brotherhood in fraternity experience