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Fraternity pledging - I'm not sure I get it...

dwhitedwhite Posts: 626Registered User Member
edited March 2010 in Parents Forum
I don't want to be too critical about the process because admittedly, I don't know much about it as neither my husband nor I "went greek" in college but...I can't help but be concerned about the process and the toll in might take this semester.

From what I understand, the pledges have to be available all hours of the day and night and perform lots of chores, driving, etc. I do know they have some time set aside for studying but I can't imagine it is enough given the rigor of the school. Now my son did assure me there is NO alchohol hazing involved, so that is a big plus. Aside from that, I'm just concerned about the time commitment, sleep deprivation, stress about school work and the length of the process which I understand can be up to 8 weeks. Is that possible?

I'm really not an overly protective parent (aside from this post) so I guess I was just looking for some words of wisdom from some of you parents who have gone through this before. This is our oldest child, so all this fraternity stuff is a mystery. I'm really hoping the payoff is worth it.
Post edited by dwhite on
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Replies to: Fraternity pledging - I'm not sure I get it...

  • fogcityfogcity Posts: 2,510Registered User Senior Member
    Pledging generally is all in good fun. It's a bonding experience. While it sometimes goes awry because of excessive enthusiasm of those involved, that is very rare, and the colleges are always on the watch.

    For many students being part of a fraternity enriches their college experience. It's a support group, an extended family, and often the source of lifetime friendships.

    I encourage you to let your S make his own decisions in the pledging process. I doubt that he's looking for your guidance in the process.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 24,913Registered User Senior Member
    I don't think the question can be answered without knowing the college in question. Different colleges have different Greek cultures, and the initiation could range from "hey, a few hours on the weekend here and there, but nothing that would interfere with schoolwork or other pursuits" all the way to all-consuming / schoolwork-suffering levels.
  • ingerpingerp Posts: 866Registered User Member
    DH and I think fraternities are stupid. DS#1, apparently, does not. (FWIW--this semester--second of freshman year--is the only time it'll be bad.)
  • momof3Dmomof3D Posts: 137Registered User Junior Member
    Pizzagirl is right. At the university near us (CU Boulder) fraternity life can destroy your academic life. I work with a young man who was part of the Greek system until his parents intervened (he says he wished they had done it sooner.) He is in his fifth year at CU and has such crummy grades from his early years that he knows he will not get in the grad school program he wants and he attributes this to the outrageous behavior of the Greek scene here (his behavior included.). He told me about a frat that was closed down by the health dept. a few years back because the plumbing had not functioned for six months and one room was used for defecating. A room full of poop. At different times over the years I have driven by the frat buildings and noted all the windows were busted. These are beautiful old mansions that I'm sure housed an admirable organization in past years. There is no adult supervision, needless to say, and this chaotic scene is not conducive to studying or taking school seriously.
  • BayBay Posts: 10,234Registered User Senior Member
    My sense is that the fraternities at the top universities are obviously aware and mindful of the academic pressures facing their pledges. They do not want their members to perform poorly, because there could be negative consequences like academic probation. The fraternities at the less-selective schools might be a different story.
  • FindAPlaceFindAPlace Posts: 4,706Registered User Senior Member
    momof 3d:

    OMG! Were there no real adults associated with/living in that frat with the poop room? That's just disgusting.
  • fummer10fummer10 Posts: 63. Junior Member
    Honestly, if parents knew what went on during fraternity (and sorority) pledging they would never send their children to school. Fraternities have a very strict policy of keeping everything they do secret and pledging activities are some of the most highly guarded information they keep. You really don't want to know, so don't ask because no one will tell you the truth. Its up to the guy if he wants to do it.
  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap Posts: 11,519Registered User Senior Member
    "Those that tell don't know; those that know, don't tell!"
  • nngmmnngmm Posts: 5,708Registered User Senior Member
  • sigkapaccountantsigkapaccountant Posts: 89Registered User Junior Member
    Greek life differs greatly depending on the school. The basic trend is that pledging in the south tends to be more "intense" than in the north.
  • dwhitedwhite Posts: 626Registered User Member
    ^^He does go to school in the south (Vanderbilt) so I guess the process may very well be intense. In the end, we will never know the extent of it (as it should be) and he is fairly confident he can keep his grades up. Another parent did tell me the fraternities are pretty concerned about the overall gpa of their house. As a matter of fact, the greek system has a higher gpa than the rest of the school at Vanderbilt and I imagine they want to keep it that way. We shall see what happens. thanks
  • cartera45cartera45 Posts: 12,132Registered User Senior Member
    I went to college in Virginia and joined a sorority. There were incentives to keep you grades up - first choice of rooms in the house was a big one since there were a couple of singles. This was a very academically intense school though. Greek life there was not very intense and didn't interfere at all with academics. I'm sure there are completely different situations, but it varies greatly from school to school. One of my D's best friends is in a sorority at Vanderbilt and she has great grades and doesn't seem overwhelmed.
  • oldfortoldfort Posts: 16,533Registered User Senior Member
    From what I have gathered, a lot of social life at Vanderbilt is centered around Greek life. Socially, it maybe more fun for your son to participate. My daughter joined a sorority at her school because it was more fun to do so. She is currently in the lock down stage with the rush week, I haven't talked to her in days. I was very nervous initially, I bought few books to read up on it, and they all kind of scared me. But my daughter said it was nothing like that at her school. The semester after pledge is the busiest. I would suggest for your son to have a lighter load if he doesn't want to ruin his GPA. Overall it has been a positive experience for my daughter. Almost all of her freshman friends joined Greek.
  • MomLiveMomLive Posts: 2,370Registered User Senior Member
    I really do think it depends on the school. A friend's son was at Alabama last year and said it was an all-consuming, very intense experience. His frat ended up losing their charter due to some very risky hazing activities. He is now at different school, same frat, totally different culture.

    I had zero involvement with the Greek scene at the same college my husband was a member of a fraternity - so we have experienced it from both sides. I can see some value in joining a frat but I think you need to be very careful about how you do it. We've advised son to take a wait-and-see approach to the frat scene. Get to know some kids first and then decide whether it's for you. That's what my H did - he didn't join until sophomore year and he was already friends with a group from the fraternity, so it was an easy fit. Trying to find the 'right' fraternity that will fit your particular personality is, IMHO, a difficult thing to do during rush week. Different fraternities have different cultures. Some are very heavy into the partying scene, some are not.

    I won't try and stop my son from joining a frat but I will make sure that he understands the pluses and minuses of doing this and that my expectation is that he maintain a certain GPA and it he falls below that, he must resign from the frat.
  • RobDRobD Posts: 5,059Registered User Senior Member
    dwhite: I also don't "get it" as I'm from the Northeast and that wasn't part of my college experience. There were negative connotations to Greek life among my circle. Here in the South though, it's fairly popular. I don't want my perceptions to ruin a possibly good experience for my D, so I am encouraging her to attend the Panhellenic Preview Day at her chosen school in March so she can make up her own mind.

    I am going to keep my mouth shut & not make snide comments or roll my eyes while accompanying her :)
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