Project 2 Paper

Impression, the immediate effect of perception upon the mind, also considered the first feeling or reaction you make when you first meet someone. We all try to consider ourselves non-judgmental people, but when it comes to reality, we do it so much that we have become accustomed to it. Although we don’t want to admit it, we judge different people without knowing a single aspect about them or their community. It is not only about first impressions or judgments, but stereotypes as well. The stereotype that someone might make on another community or group of people can really effect their first impression and the way they view the outside group.

In this project we were asked to familiarize ourselves with another community we aren’t used to being around, and have little knowledge about. I imagined this would be extremely uncomfortable to step outside the box into another community of people, so I chose a community that I wouldn’t feel extremely uncomfortable around, fraternities at the University of Kentucky. The reason that I chose this community is because it’s interesting to see the differences they have from sororities, considering I am active in one, and also because it’s fascinating to see the contrast between different fraternities. Since I am already knowledgeable about Greek life on campus, I was excited to be able to extend my knowledge even further.

The first idea that comes to mind when the topic of fraternities is brought up to an inactive Greek individual is usually hazing, parties, and having fun. It turns out that this perception is completely thrown off. The perceptions we have about different groups are usually inaccurate until we find out for ourselves. In the article Why the Negative Perceptions on Fraternities, the author states “Fraternity men are no different when it comes to partying then their peers in their age group.  However, the reputation of all fraternity men takes a hit when one of us does something stupid in public”. Although this article has a biased opinion, after my fieldwork I have discovered that this is true. People not involved in the Greek community usually have strong opinions on them without any familiarity with the specific community. My personal perception before starting this project was very open minded. I knew that the boys would be gentleman, but what I didn’t know was how the fraternities would differ the most from each other, and that’s what I was most interested in. Some differences I expected to see in the fraternities were things like grades, party habits, personality and expectations. I also had a huge benefit because I am apart of a sorority, which relates to fraternities in many ways, but the most exciting aspect was learning what makes them two separate communities apart from each other.

The members in the fraternity community not only fascinate me, but they inspire me as well. After becoming an active member, I could tell that none of the gentlemen cared about the stereotype of fraternities, because they all know it’s so much more than that. Their positive perception on their community shadows the negative impressions that non-members have on them. After my fieldwork and interviews, it is clear what the active fraternity members perceive about their community.  Figure 1 above shows two members from a fraternity on one weekend where I hung out with some of them. I snapped the picture when they weren’t ready to show an example of them in their natural environment. I specifically chose to take the picture with only two gentlemen in it to represent the concept of brotherhood. They see their community as an opportunity for leadership, involvement, friendship or brotherhood, secrecy, philanthropy, and socialization. It is amazing to see the connection between the members and how they always seem to “have each others backs” or help each other in times of need. From what I’ve seen, the main thing that these gentlemen take out of their fraternity life is brotherhood. I can tell that these gentlemen cherish their brotherhood more than anything else. I have also noticed that fraternities seem to be a lot closer to each other than sororities, but that is a personal opinion. It may be hard for people outside of the Greek world to understand the concept of brotherhood, but anyone inside knows exactly what the importance of it is. Many of the fraternities had the same basic perceptions on Fraternity life, but individually, they are all unique in their own way.

When I chose this community I knew that some of my fieldwork would be done on the weekends at parties, even though that doesn’t seem educational or accurate, it is surprisingly the most beneficial data I have gotten from the community. The second type of fieldwork was visiting a specific fraternity, interviewing the active members, and luckily receiving a tour, giving us a chance to access the entire house and get the inside scoop. Lastly, we visited another fraternity house and gave out surveys so that we could compare them to each other. Starting with the most amusing part of fieldwork for this project, the parties. Every weekend my friends and I usually go to parties with different fraternities, or as we like to call them “frat parties”. It seems as if this wouldn’t be beneficial to a school project, but it gave us a chance to see the men in their natural environments, and for a social aspect as well. I am not going to name any specific fraternities, but instead use Fraternity A, B, and C. I will simply give examples of how the fraternities differed from each other from my point of view. On a specific weekend that I chose to do field work on, I visited 3 different fraternity parties as an outsider looking in. The first party, held by Fraternity A, was our first house around 10:30pm, and it turns out, we were the first ones there. As if this doesn’t say enough in itself, we went in anyways.

When we got in we were led to the basement where the lights were turned off with very dim Christmas lights on. As the party progressed, the ratio of girls to guys was outrageous. So many girls had never surrounded me at once, and it wasn’t the most exciting thing. After an hour or so we decided to leave and head to the next party with Fraternity B just two houses down. This party was the complete opposite, livelier, lots of people, neon lights and loads of dancing. Figure 2 above showed this party from an above point of view. I snapped this while no one was ready to try and get the gist of the people in their natural environment, and to show how fun it was! Just from the simple switch over two houses down to another fraternity, there was already an obvious difference. People tend to enjoy certain fraternities company more than others, for example, in my situation people enjoyed the company and hospitality of Fraternity B greatly more than Fraternity A. I found this very interesting and it made me wonder, “why?” The last house I attended, with Fraternity C, was a couple blocks down, and was the biggest social event by far. Everyone seemed the most happy and lively at this house, and I enjoyed myself the most here. From personal experience, there are certain fraternities that aren’t heard of much on the weekends, which I view as the more conservative fraternities. I have also noticed that when it comes to being initiated, which is when the new pledge of the fraternity is officially considered a member, it is the biggest celebration for the gentlemen. I think that this is such a big process for them because they go through so much together before they can become initiated. I wanted to get my hands on all of their requirements to become initiated, but being in a fraternity also involved secrecy, so it was out of my hands to get this information. Darn! But I wanted to get a simple start of fieldwork to ease into my project. Even though I regularly attend fraternity parties on the weekends, it was interesting to see when I focused more on the way people reacted and the interest college students had in certain fraternities. But this was only the stepping-stone to beginning project II.

Our second method of fieldwork was attending a specific fraternity house to reach further into the life of a Fraternity member. We decided to pick the Sigma Chi fraternity. When we first entered the house, I was amazed at how large it was. Figure 3 shows what caught my attention when I first entered the house. I immediately saw two huge letters that represent this fraternity, and I took a picture of them. We held an Interview with about 6 or 7 guys in the house. From the start, my main goal was to see how the fraternities differed from each other; I was excited to find that the Sigma Chi fraternity held the highest GPA on the University of Kentucky campus. While interviewing the boys, you could tell right from the start that they were well rounded. They not only held the highest GPA, but they were able to discuss how much fun they had outside of schoolwork. One of the guys even stated, “Study hard, Party hard”. They were very fun loving, polite and goofy boys. We received a tour of the house and we took many pictures. Not only was the house huge, but it was surprisingly clean as well. The members who lived in the house had no regrets at all. They claimed that the house was very beneficial to their membership because it is closer to campus, and it gives them a chance to be closer to their brothers. On the downside, they also stated that it was never quiet, and always loud. The gentlemen who lived inside the house were much closer to each other than the gentleman who didn’t live in the house. Our next plan was to visit another fraternity to get more personal data to compare to the other fraternity. We decided to pick Alpha Tao Omega, or often referred to as “ATO”. The two houses were very similar in size, and basically everything else. Figure 4 is a picture of my partner and I with a member of the ATO fraternity, with his letters above us. I chose to put this picture in

my paper because this member of the ATO fraternity was very helpful with any questions we had with our fieldwork, and also because it displays their letters. We handed out surveys to many of the members, and the results were pretty similar to the first fraternity’s answers to their interview questions. The questions on the survey very much resembled the interview questions, but we wanted another method for the fraternity men to do. We discovered that many fraternities are very similar and reflect each other when it comes to the basics of loyalty, brotherhood, education and community work, but when meeting with different individuals in different fraternities, it is easy to tell the contrast of personalities between them.

After my fieldwork with the Fraternities, I wanted to look at the idea of Greek life from a different perspective. In the article titled The Greek Life Self-Study: A Powerful Process for Change on Campus, Dixon college trustees chose a selected committee to examine Greek life on campus to see the benefits of it. In their findings, they found that it was splendidly beneficial to the community of the college and were impressed with the responses they got from the Greek life organizations,   “which included such frequently made claims as the ability of fraternities to make integration into campus life more easy, the sense of community and lasting friendships they provide, the opportunities they give to develop leadership and social skills and to perform social service, their encouragement of high ideals and academic achievement, and the network of contacts they engendered that would extend beyond college” (Neuberger 12). This only shows that fraternities are beneficial in many ways, rather than destructive. One can only judge a fraternity member if they have done fieldwork or they have experienced it, otherwise no one has any right to make judgments on fraternity life. I was not surprised with this sources information, because it was very similar to the data I collected from my fieldwork, and what I already imagined it would be.

My thoughts before working with Fraternity life at the University of Kentucky was that there would be plenty similarities to sorority life, because they are both active Greek life members. Although they are similar, fraternities differ from sororities not only because they are men, but also because they have a special bond that is unexplainable. Girl always tend to click right away, and become “best friends”, and consider each other sisters as it is, but when you bring a group as big as 60 guys together, its hard to imagine that things would be a perfectly smooth path. It’s amazing to see how well they get along with each other, and that it truly is a brotherhood. My perception on Fraternities at the moment is that they are a wonderful attribute to the University of Kentucky. Since the Greek life on campus is so big here, it really does make a huge difference. I believe that they benefit the campus because of their stability with school, social life, and community work. In my opinion, every man that comes into college should experience the Fraternity life, because it genuinely creates a well-rounded individual.

Everyone has a different perspective on Fraternity life whether they are educated in it or not, but these perceptions can change at any time. In figure 5 to the left, I placed a picture of the fraternity boys playing ping-pong. I chose this picture because it shows the members being themselves and doing what they want to do on their free time, which most people wouldn’t imagine if they pictured the idea of Fraternity life. For people who aren’t well educated about Fraternity life, that can change if they become more affiliated with the community. This will probably be the most changed perspective of them all,

because people who don’t know anything about fraternity life or Greek life in general are usually wrong when it comes down to it. Another way that perception can be changed with Fraternity life is if you’re in one. If you are an active member of a fraternity, your loyalty and love for your Chapter and your brothers will most likely strengthen. From personal experience, my love for my Sisters in my Chapter, Delta Zeta, has already grown stronger just over the past couple months that I’ve been here. I know that the same goes for the gentleman involved with fraternity life. Another big example in the perception of Fraternity life is parents. If someone involved in Greek life didn’t have any parents involved in it, their parents might make the assumption that their son or daughter just wants to party, but I guarantee that after the first couple months, if the son or daughter is at good standing with their Chapter, meaning financial, academic and social, the parents will be delighted. There are a million different ways perceptions can change with Fraternities or even Greek life in general.

In conclusion, fraternity life at the University of Kentucky benefits the campus and the gentleman involved in it. Being involved in Greek life is not only fun, but it can help someone meet new people, keep up with their school work and become more involved with their community. It is not just a party, it’s not just an excuse to be involved, but it’s a way of life, a special one that I like to refer to as brotherhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference Page:

Neuberger, Carmen G., and Gail S. Hanson. “The Greek Life Self-Study: A Powerful Process for Change on Campus.” EBSCOhost. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <http://thefraternityadvisor.com/why-the-negative-perception-of-fraternities/&gt;.

Scott, Courtney L. “Interview with Sigma Chi.” Courtleascott. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <https://courtleascott.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=53&action=edit&gt;.

“Why the Negative Perception of Fraternities?” The Fraternity Advisor. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <http://thefraternityadvisor.com/why-the-negative-perception-of-fraternities/&gt;.

 

 

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~ by courtleascott on December 6, 2011.

2 Responses to “Project 2 Paper”

  1. Very interesting read. Glad you decided to dig deeper into the fraternities outside their social programs. As you know, this is the story of fraternity that is rarely told.

    Also, thanks for referencing my site. If you ever have any questions in the future, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Fraternally,
    Pat

  2. Thank you for reading! I was very interested in finding more out about the life as a fraternity member, and I am happy with my results but you can only dig so deep! I appreciate your comment though, very enlightening.

    Sincerely,
    Courtney

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