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It’s All Greek to Me

In every college or university, the essence of fraternities (generally refer to all-male or mixed-sex student organizations) and sororities (the female-only equivalent) undeniably perceived and recognized by the students. Fraternities and sororities use Greek alphabets to depict their names; that’s why they are commonly known as “Greek organizations.” Members of these organizations share common goals and create a firm commitment to one another for life. Most students consider joining these kinds of organization because it is where they share a relationship through brotherhood and sisterhood, and it is also the perfect place to find a “sense of belongingness.” These Greek organizations aren’t like Science or English clubs that students have to deal with for four years in college. They’re not mere college experiences, but they are lifetime involvements.

For the past years—and even at the present—sororities and most especially the fraternities are regarded as threats to the students’ lives because of the contemporary issues they are involved with. It is already the mindset of most people that joining Greek organizations will lead you into the wrong path. Thus, it destroys their future.

One of the criticisms concerning Greek organizations is the hazing. As defined by Republic Act 8049, Section I, hazing is “an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.” Unfortunately, many students died and were physically and emotionally tortured because of these brutal initiations. One of the latest hazing incidents involved the death of an 18-year-old student of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. Guillo Cesar Servando died last June 28, 2014 due to the initiation rites of the Alpha Kappa Rho(Akrho) fraternity. Eventually, this hazing incident was condemned by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara and Senate deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto III.

Another criticized practice of fraternities and sororities is their alcohol abuse and their binge drinking. It is the consumption of a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time. According to the New World Encyclopedia, students have died from this practice due to the dangerous effects of too much alcohol consumed. A reported incident of alcohol abuse was that 18-year-old Adrian D. Heideman, who died after consuming a bottle of brandy during a party last October 7, 2000 with his new fraternity brothers (Chico chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at California State University). He was put to bed in a downstairs bedroom of the fraternity house, and at 1 a.m. was found dead from alcohol overdose.

Moreover, most people discourage these Greek organizations because of sexual harassment and violence on women. Based on the observations made by sociologists, sex is used as a tool in order to entice the neophytes, the new recruits, to the group and it served as a reward for surviving hazing.

From all the preconceived notions and stereotyping, it is still different and enlightening when you hear the sides of people who are actually members of Greek organizations. Most stereotypes are only partially true to some fraternities or sororities.

Members of a Greek organization in Silliman University can testify that fraternities and sororities can be advantageous to every individual. It has changed their lives and made them better individuals who take an active role not only in the campus but also in the community.

Aside from being blessed of having the fraternity as his second family, Meg Franco Bacal, President of Pan Hellenic Society, stated that he is grateful for the opportunities of learning his fraternity offered him. “It changed my life. I became a leader, I became a more responsible and mature person,” Bacal, a senior business computer student, said.  Pan Hellenic Society organizes activities like the A Cappella Competition, Talumpati ng Taon, Talentadong Sillimanian, and the Tempura Eating Contest that promote their principles of “Wholesome Fellowship, Academic Excellence, Cultural Advancement and Service.”  In a fraternal organization, working with different people with different backgrounds, balancing relationships and conflict, planning events, delegating tasks, and managing time are vital leadership skills that are developed.  Fraternities and sororities can build better leaders and more active citizens.

JosenBerenguel, a registered nurse and former President of the Beta Sigma Fraternity, said that he believes that it is more effective to gain the trust of their members by touching their minds and emotions instead of earning it through physical means. This “brotherhood of scholars” fraternity hones the members to be responsible individuals in taking an active part in the community and motivated them to do well in their academic performance, added Kent Otaza, senior civil engineering student and current President of Beta Sigma Fraternity. Many think that being part of a fraternity or sorority is all about getting pleasure out of anything like having parties. But, fraternity and sorority members actually persevere academically.

Furthermore, fraternity and sorority members are dedicated when it comes to community service and volunteerism. Most people express their negative sentiments to sororities with the way they dress and act. “We want to break the stereotypical mindset of these people by showing to them that we are not just magpa hambog or pa sosyal or pa sikat[obsessed with popularity, classy and arrogant], but we also have the heart to care for others in the community,” said Switzendee Vismanos, President of Hermanas Sorority and second year nutrition and dietetics student. The organization’s advocacy is focused on women empowerment and environmental preservation. In fulfilling their advocacy, they conduct activities that often involve clean-up drives and feeding programs in the small barangays of Dumaguete.

We can never avoid stereotyping. It is inevitable especially in the case of fraternity and sorority where everything is publicized through social media. It’s just proper to think that in everything, there are pluses and minuses. Before judging someone or something, see the real things first.

By: Nurilyn J. Elli

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