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Long: Being a ‘fraternity man’ shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing proposition



We go through 60 beers and five sexual partners in a week. We don’t ever worry about finances — we just put it on our fathers’ credit cards. We alternate between 15 different pastels of polos, and we lie and cheat our way to passing grades. We don’t look for any responsibilities, because we are too busy getting high. Our only work experience is the weed-dealing we did in high school.

Is this a fraternity man?

We drink only fine liquor and never in excess. We throw our coats down over every puddle for females. We manage our finances privately and independently. We dress spot-on for every occasion and work days and nights to earn good grades. We set ourselves up to lead organizations from a position of respect and treat our bodies like temples. Our hard work in school will no doubt equate into a high-paying and satisfying job after college.

Is this a fraternity man?

The general population expects one of two things from a fraternity man. One, to be a true frat-star, boasting about bitches and beer, or two, someone who tries to convince everyone they’re a gentleman whose only pursuit in life is nobility.

But there’s a spectrum of fraternity members, and the typecasts seem to allow no range between the low end and the high end. It is all or nothing; the bar is either set extremely low or unattainably high. Either we, as fraternity men, can represent the raging, boozing, womanizing end that many expect or we can pursue perfect, unachievable heights.

I usually drink two nights per week, and I have a steady girlfriend. I live on a $60-weekly budget set out by my parents. My favorite clothes are bought from Banana Republic and The Duck Store, and my cumulative GPA hangs right at a 3.0. I am a part of my fraternity’s Executive Council, and I am a passionate journalist wants to one day have a job that makes me happy.

I do make poor decisions. Occasionally I get drunk, curse and objectify women. I skip lecture periods sometimes, and I occasionally get Cs in my classes. I am flawed and occasionally meet the criteria for that low-end expectation of a fraternity member.

But I also make an effort to hold myself to a high standard because I know what I am capable of — I know my values and priorities and whom I represent. I consider myself a nice guy, a good student and a professional who often times meets that higher standard.

Where I truly fall — and where, I believe, a vast majority falls — is somewhere in between: the happy medium. I do great things and strive for self-betterment, but I slip into the negative stereotype on occasion.

I don’t want to constantly try to convince people I am not what they perceive. Instead I strive to simply be a good man and be myself. Every fraternity has a creed or motto that it stands for, and in the eyes of many non-Greeks, they sound something along the lines of “chivalry, character, scholarship, brotherhood, blah, blah, blah.”

It is true they all sound the same. But it is the level of regard for those similar-sounding oaths that all fraternity men take that dictates the type of fraternity men we are. Some of us take them more to heart than others, but few ignore them, just as few can live up to them.

I try to measure myself against those criteria for success, not other Greek Life members or what people expect me to be.

Did I conduct myself as a gentleman today? Did I treat others how I wished to be treated? Did I make my best academic effort and help hold up and encourage those who support and encourage me?

I rarely meet all of those ideals fully on a daily basis. I never have deemed my actions perfect. But that is why I am a fraternity man — to strive to one day meet the perfect score, to live my obligations without a blemish, to be a true fraternity man.

In essence, I hope all fraternity men have the same goal: to understand their individual place on the spectrum and strive to move toward that higher standard.


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