I’m not here to defend fraternities. I’ve found that people have largely made up their minds about the Greek system by the time they’re 18 or 19. But I do think the anti-fraternity chorus has grown overloud, the outrage in the court of public opinion disproportionate. Fraternity men are movie villains, the “frat bro” a national stereotype/punch line on par with “annoying hipster.” I sometimes meet judging eyes when I say, “Yeah, I was in a fraternity.” I think it’s ridiculous.
I’m not alone when I count my college years as the most formative of my life. Those years were dominated by my fraternity participation. Sigma Chi was the biggest and most overwhelmingly positive force in my life for those four years, and the lessons I took from it were every bit as valuable as anything I learned in a classroom. You go to class to study English or finance, but you go to college to study life, to continue becoming who you are.
I joined my fraternity almost immediately, a few weeks into my first semester at William and Mary in 2006. I picked it because I thought it was the best one on campus. I think anyone who joined a fraternity would say the same, or at least I hope they would. No, I didn’t have aspirations of accessing an alumni network for career advancement—I can’t think of anyone who seriously used that as motivation. Sure, after graduation a friend might give you a heads up about a job posting or put in a good word for you, but that’s friendship. There’s no list of benevolent CEOs willing to pull you up the ladder purely because of your Greek affiliation. If there is, someone please forward it to me.