Is Greek life beyond redemption?
To people who don’t participate in Greek life, it only takes about one viewing of “Animal House” or ABC Family’s GREEK to gather some negative assumptions. All too often they are confirmed in reality by people in fraternities and sororities on campus. Whether it’s the destructive parties, frat-astic apparel, exclusivity, or hazing, the words “Greek life” can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. Some may even ask, who in their right mind would want to associate with this world?
I was initiated a member of Alpha Phi back in 2003 (yes, almost a decade ago now…), and I cannot say all these accusations are totally undeserved, but they don’t tell the whole story of why Greek life was founded. Sure, I remember the craziness, parties, drama, gossip, and rivalries with other houses very well. What I remember more are the late night conversations, hugs after a hard exam week, meals shared, hilarious costumes we wore to theme parties, nights in the living room piled on couches watching chick-flicks, “borrowing” fraternity composites to decorate them, making up fun skits, and buying way too many t-shirts for every single event in the history of Alpha Phi.
Some people look at fraternities and sororities and think they’ve fallen off the deep end. I was tempted to feel this way many times when my sorority sisters actually made fun of me for sticking to my moral convictions. I joined a sorority to have a community of sisters who would support me, not isolate me because of my values, those that even our founders would have supported if they were still around. At moments I have felt like our founders might be rolling in their graves if only they saw where their hard work has gone, but I don’t believe Greek life is beyond redemption. There is still so much good, and I truly believe that the more Greeks are reminded of the reasons they were founded, the more we can and will see many changes. Houses simply need people to remind them of their purpose. They need men and women who will live their life in response to the vision set by their founders.
In the foundation of many Greek houses, there are deep moral principles and values - shocking perhaps! In some chapters you may have to dig a bit deeper than in others to find these values, but they are there despite the current members’ perceptions of them or not. I am going to make a wild guess that John Belushi and his brothers weren’t exemplifying the mission formed by their founders. Many Greeks can’t even articulate the purpose of their house or what their founders’ vision was for future generations. So it’s actually not shocking that they aren’t living lives that reflect the lives of their founders. In Proverbs 29:18 it states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is exactly how I see the current state of Greek life: vision has eroded over the years, and the people have begun to perish the more disconnected they become from their founders’ roots.
For example, here is the purpose of the sorority I am a member of -
“The objectives of our Fraternity are the promotion of growth in character; unity of feeling, sisterly affection, and social communion among our members. In all that we do, we try to obey God's principles of justice and right. We have banded ourselves together to improve our minds and hearts, and we seek to aid each other through a constant watchcare always given in love. We believe ourselves to be sincere searchers for truth. We seek the highest ideal of womanhood, and we try to gain this ideal by cultivating not only the power and passion for seeking intellectual development but, also, the spirit of love and charity. And we who are thus united are under a solemn pledge to lend a helping hand to one another.”
‐ Constitution of Alpha Phi International Fraternity, Incorporated, Article II
Now that is something I think most people want to be part of! I wish I could say that all the women who pledged with me took this objective seriously. I’ve met several who do, but they tend to be the exception to the majority. I have a lot of hope for the Greek System today. I wholeheartedly believe that when Greeks connect to the true purpose and vision given for their houses, there will be a transformation on many campuses. As Greeks we must go back, understand our roots, connect ourselves now to the story of our founders. We have to return to our values and the pursuit of truth if we are to become who we called to be - great leaders on campus and in the world.
FOCUS Greek exists to revolutionize Greek culture for Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church through raising up a transformed generation of fraternity and sorority leaders convicted to bring truth to the world, impacting today, tomorrow, and eternity.
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Oct 24, 2013
Is Greek life beyond redemption?
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
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