Virginia Military Institute: One Big Fraternity

August 6, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges


Lexington Triad

Being a female at an all-male school can be difficult sometimes. I can’t be a part of a sorority, wear a pretty dress at a formal, or have a bunch of life-long sisters, and that’s okay—well minus the dress part. Instead of life-long sisters, I am part of one big fraternity and have life-long brothers. That’s right! I’m one of the guys—well, sort of. Some of them still haven’t gotten used to us women being at the school and they don’t like it—and probably never will. But the really neat thing is, I have proven to them and more importantly to myself, that I belong there; same as them.

Interestingly enough, V.M.I. was the founder of three fraternities in the history of the school. Immediately following the Civil War, fraternal societies flourished at the college. During this time, it was an all-male institution. The three fraternities that were founded at V.M.I. include Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Sigma Kappa, and Sigma Nu; all of which are currently located at colleges across the world, but are no longer a part of V.M.I. In 1885 the V.M.I Board of Visitors ruled that cadets could no longer join fraternities, based on the belief that allegiance to a fraternal group undermined the cohesiveness of and loyalty to the Corps of Cadets.  And I suppose in some ways this is true. But one thing is for certain: Even though there may not be any fraternities at the school anymore, V.M.I. is one big fraternity in itself.

Now of what little I know about fraternities, I do know that they strive to produce ethical leaders that are instilled in the principles of honor, trust, and integrity, etc.; which is basically what V.M.I endeavors to produce from its cadets. Additionally, fraternities also have that sense of brotherhood, which is not lacking in the Corps of Cadets. Brotherhood is one of the most important values you learn right off the bat at V.M.I. The first year of school is the toughest year, but you soon learn that you aren’t alone. All of your classmates are facing the same pain and grueling obstacles as you, and you have each other to help get through them. That is mainly why we call each other Brother Rats or BRs. It’s no different than the initiations that fraternities put their pledges through. The similarities are apparent.

Even though there might not be individual fraternities still present at the school, it can’t be denied that V.M.I is one huge one. The Board of Visitors might have ruled that allegiance to a fraternal group took away from the cohesiveness and loyalty to the Corps, but what they didn’t realize was that they made one on the basis of precisely what banded them in the first place. The fraternity of V.M.I pledges allegiance to the cohesiveness of and loyalty to the Corps of Cadets.   In the end, we all become one because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Ra Virginia Mil!

An Onlookers Guide to Fraternities

May 30, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Style

You’ve heard about them on movies, the Internet and from older friends, but what should you expect from fraternities when entering college? Partying, fashion style and popularity are what spring to mind when mulling over the prospect of frat life; It can’t live up to the image painted so vividly in teen movies, can it? Here’s all you need to know about fraternities from an onlookers perspective.

The first thing you need to know about fraternities is that there are more than one, and they are all very different. Starting in 1831 with Sigma Phi the fraternity world is very tradition-orientated, from hazing styles to colors and gestures things never really change within a fraternity. Because of this you often find many students follow in their parents footsteps in terms of which honor society to pledge for and become a member of; there is a huge sense of pride within each fraternity, rivaling that of college sport teams.

Fraternity members are a close-knit bunch of friends

Fraternity members are a close-knit group of friends

Although there are many different fraternities with differing views and traditions the members dress sense seems to be one ideal. You can spot a fraternity member instantly on campus and here are some telltale signs:

  1. Is he wearing canvas Ralph Lauren shoes? If so, he is likely a frat member.
  2. Does he have a lanyard holding his Oakley’s around his neck? If so, he is likely a frat member.
  3. Is he wearing a visor and yet is not a member of a sport’s team? If so, he is likely a frat member.
  4. Is he driving an off-road Jeep that still glistens as if factory fresh? If so, he is likely a frat member.
  5. Is he wearing a polo shirt with the collar turned up? If so… you get the idea.

Those are some of the very generic telltale signs of fraternity members in terms of their dress, it’s almost as if each new member receives a clothing handbook, with only four or five options listed.

Next on the topic of fraternities are the parties. Many fraternities own their personal off-campus housing arrangements, meaning perfect locations for some of the best parties of the year. The rather aptly named ‘frat houses‘ are set to host numerous parties each semester with copious amounts of alcohol and loud music. These parties often see the arrival of the female sororities and can turn into raves very quickly. Attending these parties are a sure way to meet new people, and experience the day-to-day perks of being a frat member.

So, are fraternities what they seem? In short, yes. The parties are epic, the bond between ‘brothers’ is like that of a closely knit football team and joining one can propel you to the top of the popularity tree. Although the movies may go a little overboard on the hazing aspect of modern fraternities, there is an element of truth in the hazing fraternities and they get everything else spot-on.

Leaving high-school and wanting to join a fraternity when you enter college? Best get yourself down to the mall and buy a sunglasses lanyard then.


by Devin

A Non-Greek Lifer’s Understanding of Greek Life

March 28, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

Greek Life

Greek Life

Assumption College is very small private college that does not have an active Greek life scene.  There are no fraternities and no sororities.  And I am okay with that, not because I have a problem with Greek life but because I don’t really care either way if there are frats or sororities; I have never really had an interest in joining a sorority.

I have a lot of friends in sororities and they absolutely love being a part of it.  Yet I am still content not being involved in Greek life.  I barley have time to finish my homework and get to work on time as it is.  Greek life seems like a huge commitment.  There are meetings and philanthropy and fundraising events that need to be attended.  I like being able to have a little bit of free time to myself.  Although, I know it does look good on résumés.

The only experience I have with Greek life comes from the frat parties I have attended at the school down the street from Assumption, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Other than that I have never interacted with an actual fraternity or sorority.

And while I have no interest in joining a sorority I have no problem with them.  I do not see Greek life as being any different from the other group or organization on a college campus.  It seems like a helpful way to make friends, boost your résumé, and an excellent way to make connection and network.  It is already close to impossible to find a job after graduation so the more connections you have, the better off you are.  I definitely feel as though I am missing out on a lot of networking connections.  The closer it gets to graduation the less prepared I feel.

Plus, I bet my school would have better parties if we had an active Greek life.

Animal House

Animal House

I have never second guessed coming to a school without Greek life because it was never an important factor in choosing my college.  However I would not mind if I did attend a school with Greek life either.  I know fraternities and sororities often receive a bad reputation for hazing and parting; but those situation happen at the majority of schools whether they have Greek life or not.  I don’t think it is fair to stereotype and generalize an organization like that.  College kids are often reckless and irresponsible.  So when you put a large group of guys or a large group of girls together they are going to make potentially stupid decisions.

I guess all I have to say is that I am completely indifferent to Greek life.  Since I do not have that much experience with it I do not think it is fair for me to place judgment upon an entire organization.

The Greek System (finally told by someone who is actually in Greek Life)

March 21, 2014 in Campus Life

By: Thomas Beaton

An unfortunate blogging trend happening across the internet is that people who have absolutely no idea about Greek Life are writing about it. Several blogs, articles, and other forms of media rely on the bad press of greek organizations, and I mean really bad press. Greek organizations almost seem to have grown adept at creating worst case scenarios for their P.R departments.

The obvious reasons are because hazing does happen within Greek Life. Fraternities and Sororities alike get in trouble for questionable behavior. So why would anyone possibly go Greek? As stated in the title I am a Greek student, so why open with examples of how Greek Life is bad?

Its to prove my overwhelming point: Joining Greek Life was the best decision I have ever and I can proudly stand by that statement. Even with the media flak fraternities and sororities receive on a near-monthly basis. As a non-Greek student/non-Greek person you probably have heard the same old selling points and facts from recruiters. So why join if you, the clairvoyant all-knowing college student, know better than to be affiliated with a gang of hooligans or a clique of stuck-up girls.

You don’t know. You don’t know a single thing about Greek Life. A few articles from Huffington Post, or this garbage website (a poor excuse for satire), is the source of the only information you know about going Greek. Your knowledge of Greek LIfe is mentally equivalent to a five year old with only a Tonka truck to their name.

This is only because non-Greek students don’t do the simplest thing: ask about it. At a recruiting event talk to several of the brothers/sisters of an organization, not just the recruiter. Get a feel of the organization as a whole. Do they value grades, are they a fun group, what is the community service like? Look and see if there are any strict non-hazing by-laws on the national site. There are plenty of organizations that don’t haze. You don’t have to be a member to go on and look at the documents. See what the new member process is like. Rush.

There is a recruiting process called “rush” where events are set up by the Greek Organizations to get interested people to join. It is usually a lot of fun and it doesn’t cost you anything. Here is one of the previous rush schedules from my fraternity. The events are a blast and are stress free. Its to dip your toes into Greek Life. You’ll learn more about Greek Life in one week of rushing than you will from typing in “fraternities” on Google News.

Find a group that you get a good feel for. All it takes is a little research if you want to know the truth about a group. There will be those groups that like to party, and maybe thats what you’re looking for. Others will value community service, winning accolades, and the membership development components of Greek Life. Or others will value a close brotherhood/sisterhood and creating a second family.

If the school is more competitive/elitist in terms of Greek Life, then see if you’re into that. If your school’s Greek Life system is a bit low key, but still offers great opportunities, then (again) see if that is more your speed.

Also see how selective Greek Life is to your campus. At UMass Amherst, we have a growing Greek system, but Greek Life that isn’t the major social outlet like schools in the South or the Midwest.

UMass Greek Life has larger numbers with the sororities than the fraternities, but each organization continues to grow. New organizations colonize every semester or so. There is a reason that the Greek system has been around for so long. The desire for new found brotherhood/sisterhood and professional development will be the pieces that many college students need to complete their undergraduate puzzle.

Just because a couple of bad eggs make themselves into a headline for some debauchery, it doesn’t mean that all organizations are bad or only foster negativity. 

Most (if not all) Greek members feel the same way as myself and will fiercely defend their letters. Anyone outside of fraternities and sororities will never truly know why their members speak so highly of their house. One cannot know 100% until they join. Greek Life also isn’t for everybody as you will want to value other obligations. That is completely fine.

I’m not convincing you to join a fraternity or sorority, I’m convincing you to explore the true depth that Greek Life holds. There is easily a lot more good than bad. Do a little research.

However the stigmas and black flags raised about Greek Life can easily be cleared: all it takes is a little bit of time to know the members and the ideals.



Frat-Free University

February 28, 2014 in Admissions, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

We’ve all seen the movies: Van Wilder, Animal House, Old School, even Monsters University. These movies revolve around images of fraternities and sororities filled with rushes, hazing, competitions, streaking, and tons of beer, bros and babes. But are these real depictions of what college life is actually like? For some, maybe.  There are certainly fraternities and sororities around the country that fulfill this lifestyle. There are also plenty of organizations that focus more on helping out the community and other leadership projects. Some schools, such as my school (Providence College), do not even offer a form of Greek Life.

How you experience your college years is entirely up to you. Whoever you decided to surround yourself with will have a massive impact on who you will become. This is why the decision to join a fraternity/sorority or not is so significant. In my case, even if my school had fraternities and sororities, I would not join one. Here’s why:


One of the biggest aspects of Greek life is undoubtably the house parties.  Many of these parties are themed and can be a total blast. Everyone who’s anyone attends these parties. However, in some cases, there is not always a guarantee that everybody will get an invite. Some fraternities are very picky about who they let in to their houses. At my school, on the other hand, plenty of house parties are held every weekend by the upperclassmen living right off campus. Simply bring five dollars and you will be provided with the essentials: a basement, keg, jungle juice, loud music, beer pong, and certainly some good looking lads and ladies.  It doesn’t matter which major, class or group you are in; you’re invited.

It’s true that once you become a member of a fraternity or sorority, you’re family. But the steps it takes to get there do not seem very family friendly. The rushing and hazing traditions of Greek life are designed to be degrading and humiliating and have even resulted in numerous injuries and deaths. A family is supposed to be warm and welcoming, a group that loves you no matter what. These activities force students to not be their true selves, forcing them well out of their comfort zone to do unthinkable things they would never do on their own.

Without the pressures of sorority and fraternity life at my school, joining different clubs and organizations is easy and stress-free.  I am a member of a few different groups on campus and each group truly does act as a family.  One can freely explore different groups on campus and come and go as they please, whereas in Greek life this is not so simple.  It is also preferable to pay twenty or so dollars for dues rather than the thousands of dollars it costs to join a fraternity or sorority.

Of course you will make long lasting friendships with your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, but who’s stopping you from doing this on your own? Meeting friends through different activities and clubs that you enjoy seems more natural than being forced upon a group of friends who happened to get accepted to the same frat or sorority house.

Schools with a high Greek life presence seem to have a social scene dominated by fraternity and sorority groups. In my opinion, it is best to skip this popularity contest and just be yourself. College is filled with endless opportunities to explore yourself and your interests.  These years will be some of the greatest years of your life, no matter which route you decide to take. For me, I am very pleased with my decision to remain frat-free.