Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Going Greek isn't so bad, after all

Going Greek isn't so bad, after all

Dan Demands

A lot of people out there have pretty negative preconceptions about fraternities and Greek life, and for good reason. With all the allegations of hazing, rape and debauchery, it's easy to think that the guys over on Fraternity Row are a negative influence on campus. But being a Greek, I realize that most people have no idea what Greek life is really about.

Last Fall, I had no intention of joining a fraternity. Why should I join a frat? I'm not a big fan of alcohol, I don't want to pay the money and if anyone tries to haze me, I'll break his face. Those were my thoughts on fraternities at the time, and I'm sure a lot of people share the same opinion.

But what I eventually realized was that, in a lot of ways, I was wrong. Purely by chance, I happened upon a fraternity that had just started up on campus. I liked what it stood for, I liked the opportunities it provided and I liked the guys there. Before I knew it, I was a pledge and damn proud of it.

What people don't understand is that being Greek has absolutely nothing to do with parties, sex and alcohol. From my own experience, joining a fraternity is all about opportunity. You gain opportunities to meet a wide variety of people, participate in various activities, carry on decades worth of traditions and network with others like you across the country.

The reason Greek life is so unattractive to some people is because, frankly, there are some unattractive Greeks out there. The old saying that one bad apple ruins the bunch rings true.

Yes, there are the jackasses. Yes, there are the meatheads, the womanizers and the drunken, slovenly party animals. But the vast majority of Greeks are decent or above-average people in every aspect.

Fraternities are about brotherhood. They are about bonding. They are about finding a group of men whose personalities and beliefs you can relate to. That's the part that always gets overshadowed by the foolishness some Greeks take part in.

And for the record, it doesn't matter who you are. If you want to be a Greek, I can promise there's at least one fraternity where you'd fit in. Perhaps I'd never have been a PIKE, but I make a damn good FIJI.

Maybe you'd be better off in a large fraternity. Maybe a small one. Maybe you'd be better off with Chi Phi. Maybe Sig Ep - or another of the 26 fraternities on campus.

And for the women out there, the same goes for sororities.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter which Greek organization you pledge - if any. Pledge for the right reason. But if you don't pledge, have the right reason for doing that, too. If you want to go Greek, don't pay any attention to what your friends, UF, the Alligator or even I have to say about it.

Going Greek isn't for everyone. If it's not for you, don't do it. By all means, take the free food and enjoy. But if you're considering joining a fraternity or sorority, give it a try.

Dan Burroughs is a journalism freshman. His column appears on Wednesdays.
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