What are sororities and fraternities and what is their purpose?

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I’m from the UK. I always hear about them in movies and other places but what are they, what’s with the Greek alphabet, what purpose do the serve?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Social clubs that usually have branches across many schools. 

The exact purpose varies, some are merely social, some are academically focused, some are service oriented. 

The more infamous ones you see referenced in movies are basically just party oriented or they are hereditary networking organizations similar to going to the “right” schools in the UK to rub elbows with the right families kids.

Anonymous 0 Comments

In modern day, they’re social organisations on university campuses. Most, though certainly not all, are primarily focused on undergraduate students.

They’ll also involve most, but not necessarily all, of the following dynamics:

* Single-gender membership
* Some degree of tradition, lore, and secrecy (secret handshakes, traditions, practices, songs, chants, etc) and identifying symbols (including the Greek letters, colours, symbols, etc)
* An existing-member driven selection process – usually including a rushing and bidding process (try-outs through social events and expressing interest) and pledging (where candidates are given invitations to ‘pledge’ or undergo the process of being brought in – infamously through hazing but also through a lot of learning of the above tradition).
* A property used for residency or just social events.
* A heavy emphasis on alumni networks.

But not always. There are some gender-neutral fraternities. There are many without houses/buildings. Many more or less secretive. Many on campuses where rushing and pledging are more or less streamlined or regulated.

There are also many ‘Greek letter’ societies that don’t share many of those characteristics and are often academic or career focused.

Today, they’re mostly social organisations. Especially on larger university campuses, they’re a strong network of social events and organise parties, introduce you to classmates and upperclassmen who can act as social and academic mentors, as well as with those of the opposite sex in the ‘Greek life’ system. And many require a certain degree of community service.

For the quick history, many of the earlier ‘Greek life’ sororities and fraternities were born as secret societies, debate/philosophy clubs, or academic societies that became more socially focused with time.

The first ‘Greek letter’ fraternity in North America is often cited as Phi Beta Kappa, which was founded in 1775 at the College of William and Mary as a secret society and became more academically focused (and is now one of those above that isn’t really a ‘fraternity’ anymore and is one of those academic focused honour societies). Phi Beta Kappa stood for the Greek “*Philosophia Biou Kybernētēs*” meaning basically “Wisdom is the guide to life”.

More of these popped up over time and became a bit of a system of their own. At a point in history, they had particularly strong alumni networks. (My dad was in one and his first job out of uni was literally just a former fraternity brother who was a managing partner at one of the big investment banks and would hire in members every year as they graduated).

I think that still exists to some extent but is signfiicantly weaker now for most fraternities than most and now is primarily a social institution. It’s also notably come under more and more critique with time and has become more and more questioned on college campuses.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I was watching The House on Sororety Row and wondered the same thing. Most of the friends I’ve known in either, you pretty much have to go through a hazing to get in, some of which can be deadly. That was a while ago (80’s – 90’s), so it may not be so bad (or they keep it secret).

The Hollywood / TV version seems to be nonstop party and sex, but it was never really my thing. I’d like to think there was some community action mixed in.

Anonymous 0 Comments

What’s the point of a tea break in the middle of the day?