College Students Join Greek Organizations For Social Acceptance
College students who choose to join fraternities or sororities do so because of their inept need for social acceptance. I am personally against fraternities and sororities. I feel that it is money spent for the purpose of “buying” friends. There are many ways to meet interesting people other than devoting all of your time and money to a club in order to do so. Perhaps the people who join these groups have low self-esteem, social anxiety, or feel that the best way to make friends in college is to pay for them. I find this issue to be interesting because there are many Greek organizations on campus that are constantly advertising and promoting themselves. Non-members have a tendency to either be annoyed or amused with this behavior. To support my thesis I have conducted surveys, interviews and experiments. Because Greek clubs are all over campus, I knew that my surveys and interviews would receive honest responses as to why people join or don’t join. I asked more in depth questions, such as the person’s opinion about the issue. I was pleased with my responses.
I conducted an experiment in my apartment as the third step in my research. I threw a party and passed out Mardi Gras beads to most of the people who attended. I was not partial to any gender. Both men and women received beads. My plan was to observe how much social acceptance affects the way people interact with one another. If my hypothesis were correct, people who did not wear beads would either feel left out and group together, or attempt to mingle with the bead wearers and get rejected.
But first, the surveys I conducted were regarding why men and women in college decide to join or not to join a fraternity or sorority. Most of the responses where similar from both non-members and members. Non-members chose not to join because of numerous reasons. Out of twelve non-members, seven agreed that they would not join due to a lack of money, and six out of those seven said they still would not join even if they had the funds. Nine of the twelve felt that they would not have enough time to devote themselves to a fraternity or sorority. What I found to be the most interesting was that ten felt that the reason people join these organizations are just paying for friendship. The only reason these non-members agreed that it would be a beneficial to join a fraternity or sorority would be for academic achievements, such as the Honors fraternity, or one that pertained to your major.
Twelve members of fraternities or sororities were also surveyed. Eleven stated that they joined so they can meet new people and make friends. Only five agreed that they joined so they could help the community. Eight of the ten felt they needed to join so they would have a place to party and also meet girls. Three felt that being a member taught you leadership skills. Two joined because they thought it would look good on a resume.
My second method of research was a personal interview. Here, I was able to ask more questions than on a random survey in the Oak Grove. On the issue of students not having time to devote themselves to one of the organizations, one non-member commented, “I know that as a student I am way too busy with school and work and spending time with my family and friends that I know I would never have the time to be a member of a sorority.” Another student expresses her strong view by stating, “Anyone who joins a fraternity or sorority is insecure and needs friends. Not only do they need friends and security, but also they have to pay for it, which makes it so much worse. And on top of all that they are willing to compromise themselves and their morals and beliefs during initiation in order to impress others.” One male student said, “Some of my buddies have joined fraternities just to have a place to party. It can be hard finding a good place to party and meet people, especially if you are a male. Females are able to go pretty much anywhere, but if you are a guy you need to have connections to these places.”
People refuse to join not because of a lack of money, but they already have enough to occupy their time with school and friends they were able to make on their own. They feel that they do not need to be part of a clique in order to make friends and socialize. They also feel that becoming a member would put them in a compromising position, such as events during initiation.
One fraternity member feels that “joining allows you to meet new people and also teaches you leadership skills.” But isn’t there a way to help out the community and learn leadership skills without paying for it? Of course there are many events that are sponsored by the Greek organizations to give something back to the area, but there are many ways to do this without paying fees or being a member of an organization. A part-time job can teach you leadership skills and you do not have to pay for it, in fact you get pay for doing it! Wouldn’t this be a better solution? And you could be helping out the community while you get paid depending on the type of job you have.
One girl said she joined because “it’s very hard to make friends with girls, most are too judgmental. So by joining a sorority it allows girls to meet other girls with similar interests and hopefully build great friendships.” Interesting. Granted, girls tend to be less accepting of other girls, but if your “sisters” really liked you, why wouldn’t they be your friends if you were not a member? This is where the “fake friendship” stereotype begins.
The experiment that I have conducted consisted of a group of friends at a party at my apartment. As friends showed up I passed out beads for them to wear around their necks. As more people arrived I started to run out of beads so not everyone ended up with them. At first the people who did not receive any did not say much about being left empty handed, after all, we were all friends. But as the night continued and the alcohol allowed people to release their true feelings and beliefs, the ones without the beads began to complain that they were not part of the group and ended up grouping together with others that were also left empty handed. This proved my hypothesis that social acceptance affects us all, even in a group of friends, and is important in our behavior.
Bids, which are used in selecting potential members of a Greek organization, are similar to the beads that were used at the party. The beads represented a sense of belonging within the group of people at the party, while bids are used to show acceptance into the organization. Each symbolizes peoples desire to be recognized and wanted in parts of our society. Although some people might hold back in expressing their feelings toward their need for belonging, the alcohol used in the experiment clearly helped people have the confidence to communicate their need.
Even in a group of your own friends you can feel like an outsider. People want to be noticed, but they do not want to be the odd man out. The same thing goes for those who join a Greek organization. They want to make friends, so they join a fraternity or sorority so they can fit in with the crowd. But by wearing apparel and bags with their groups name on them shows that they want to be noticed, but still part of a group.
There are many stereotypes that go along with how members of these groups behave. For example, guys only want to party, get drunk, and have sex, while girls are prissy airheads who are promiscuous. Maybe people join these groups in order to fit the college profile. If you notice in many movies about college, they almost always involve Greek clubs, rarely the independent students who are able to make their own friends on their own terms. Perhaps if this college lifestyle were advertised more, then more students would realize that they could have real friends and great social gatherings without paying dues every semester and conforming to others rules.
Many view college as a time in a young persons life where they are able to find their individuality. I know this is especially true when you attend a college away from home. College is a new beginning, a place where you can say and do what you please for the most part. You can choose who to make friends with and who to leave alone. The environment not only challenges your academic ability, but also your social skills. No more high school, no parents telling you who you should not hang out with, no more people judging you for what you did as an adolescent. This is a time where students can reinvent themselves using a new slate.
So why would people who are given so many opportunities to do whatever they please choose to join an organization that would give them more restrictions? The answer to that question is up to the individual, or should I say conformist, to decide. New people to get to know, a new party scene, and a chance to help out your community through fund-raisers all sound like good reasons to join. But buying your way into a club is not going to teach you important skills that you will need to know after schooling. Your “brothers” or “sisters” are not going to be with you after graduation, so again you will need to start over in making new friends. And after college there is a very limited amount of organizations where this “brotherhood” or “sisterhood” can be found.
Social acceptance is wanted everywhere. No one wants to be left empty-handed and unwanted. Although people go about getting this acceptance in different ways, people who choose to join a fraternity or sorority are lacking something in their life, whether it is self-esteem or genuine friendships. They have a need to be a part of a group, even if they may need to change their ways and conform to the organizations demands.