Fraternities are a valuable resource for many college men
Story by ZANE LAW
SALT LAKE CITY— College campuses across North America are hosts to hundreds of men’s fraternities. These fraternities are seen by many as misogynistic and cruel, while others view them as places to build character, a resume, and a social network. With over 6,000 chapter houses and millions of Greek members across North America, the benefits outweigh the negative image for the many joining the Greek system.
For generations, fraternities have been linked to the cultivation and development of successful men. Forty three of the United States’ 50 largest companies are run by fraternity men, with 85 percent of all Fortune 500 companies having a fraternity member CEO. According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Greek men also account for all but two United States presidents born since the formation of the first fraternity in 1825, 76 percent of all U.S. Congressmen and U.S. Senators, and all of the Apollo 11 astronauts.
University of Utah’s Interfraternity Council President, James Morrell, explained why he thinks this is far from coincidence. Morrell says Greek life has helped him in three core areas: networking, leadership, and academics. The people he has met through his fraternity, “have served as an invaluable resource in my life, helping me further my career options and improve my academics,” he says. A current member of Beta Theta Pi at the U, Morell says several alumni remain actively involved. Through alumni he has received several job opportunities and plenty of guidance.
Dillon Clark, recruitment chair of Phi Delta Theta and president of the Young Americans for Freedom organization at the U, also praised his relationships with alumni. While Clark has received internship opportunities from active alumni, he credited one event in particular to the help of his older “Phis”. “I would not have been able to bring Ben Shapiro to the U without the help of alumni,” he says. The Ben Shapiro event that Clark hosted in Salt Lake City received significant media attention and hundreds of attendees. With donations from alumni that believed in his efforts, Clark was able to pool together the tens of thousands of dollars needed for the event.
Both Clark’s and Morrell’s achievements are significant in terms of resume-building, but are only a few of the things that they believe their organizations can help people achieve. Both are happy that they have support from their fellow Greeks and feel as though these people and opportunities give them an edge.
Fraternities help to hone interpersonal skills, time management, and team-building techniques, but are expensive and are not financially accessible to many. According to USA Today, the average cost per semester in a fraternity is $605, not including additional costs such as fines for absences, tardies, and other penalties. A national survey taken in 2014 by the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics indicated that fraternity members are more likely to graduate on time, however, potentially saving thousands of dollars on tuition. Staff members at the U’s Fraternity and Sorority Life office even reported that that in 2016, 80 percent of all Greek life students had gone on to graduate, whereas 57 percent of non-Greek students had been able to do the same. Graduating at a faster rate translates to less tuition money spent, therefore negating much, if not all, of the per semester costs.
The North-American Interfraternity Conference also reports slightly higher Greek GPA’s than their non-Greek counterparts. Many fraternities and sororities require a minimum GPA to join and remain an active member, with chapters on the U’s campus requiring anywhere from 2.5 to 3.0. Fraternities even gather alumni donations to fund tutoring and “Chegg” accounts. Chegg is an online resource to help students with homework, rent textbooks, offers tutoring, and helps to identify scholarship and internship opportunities.
While such resources and encouragement are important, others benefit purely from having an organization that keeps them in check. “Our scholarship chairman is really on us about getting our big assignments in on time, constantly reminding us in meeting,” says Elliot Ansari, a third-year member of the Greek system. He and his fraternity brothers feel obligated to perform academically because one of their fraternity’s founding principles is “Sound Learning.”
Although personal development and social network expansion compose a large part of the good arising from Greek organizations, Greek members also participate in community service and philanthropic events. In the academic year of 2013-2014 alone, the North-American Interfraternity Conference reported four million hours of community service contributed by fraternity men. Making blankets for the homeless, writing letters to military personnel, and sorting goods at the local food bank are some of the events that the U’s fraternities and sororities do together, knocking out good deeds and creating fun memories with each other.
In terms of philanthropy, most fraternities “have two events per year and the money raised goes to a charity organization of our choice,” says Elliot Ansari. The University of Utah’s Sigma Chi chapter frequently makes the news, with the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s website praising them for raising $66,806.65 during the 2015/2016 school year.
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