Greek societies, Are they cults?

I have been trying to think up of a unique issue that is debatable and this is the best idea i have com eup wih. What do some of you guys think about Greek societies being cults? They certainl ymake people act differently and somehow think that they are higher up on some ort of hierachial branch (or something). I have some friends that have joined frats and they certainly arent the same since. Plus they make the pledeges and stufff do things that they dont want. (e.g. the hazings.) Somehow people go through with this because they think it is for a greater cause (or porbably something else… i dont know since ive never actually wanted to join a frat). This must branch on brainwashing somewhere do the line.

Well gimme your thoughts.

That’s a pretty broad definition of a cult. By your definition I’ve seen Star Trek clubs that would be cults.


I dunno about cults. elitist sexist and racist sure, but a cult? A cult isnt anything that makes you act differently, there has to be a religious overtone, not just ceremony.

Hell, I’ve seen Star Trek clubs that would be cults…not even with superkentclark’s definition.

I dunno. I joined a professional frat (albeit a very social one). There was no hazing, and while you do tend to spend more time with those people, it’s more likely to be out of shared experience and friendship than some form of mass hypnosis. I would imagine that fraternities with shared accommodations would tend to encourage more “hanging out together” just by virtue of proximity and the factors I already mentioned.

Hmm… the do sing chants and the such just as people sing choirs in churches.

I dont know exactly what goes on in a frat or sorority though, so some peopel might have to indulge me on their practices. All that i do know is that they all of a sudden make you part of a brother/sisterhood that has no actual brother or sister relationship. (at least to my knowledge)

And im not saying that there arent other cults out in society liek the Star Trek one, but im just ttrying to focus on this imparticular situation of greek societies.

Well, mine was a music fraternity – singing was kinda relevant. Of course, we also had a dance band. :slight_smile:

The term “brother” is metaphorical – another reference to the bonds of common experience. I don’t know of any greek society that actually tries to sever ties between members and their families (but then, a lot goes on behind closed doors in greek societies, or so I hear).

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some fraternities and sororities do still include physical and psychological hazing as part of the pledge process; however, most colleges and universities have made at least a little effort towards discouraging hazing, and as a result it has diminished quite a lot. Plus, the national organizations are so jumpy about the whole “hazing” thing that they will suspend chapters or revoke their charters where hazing has been shown to have occurred, and as a result the chapters themselves are careful not to do anything likely to get them in trouble.

Well, one of the girls on my hall is going to be living in Soroity next year, and the rest of us on the hall have a running joke that it is cult - when she goes to Soroity functions, we say “don’t sacrifice too many cats now, okay…” Overall its really funny.

Not that much really. We had weekly Chapter meetings (each campus has it’s own “chapter” in a national fraternity). It’s kind of like the weekly house meeting to plan chores, parties and other house business with some fraternity ritual thrown in for fun.

We would throw social events like parties, cocktail parties, bar-b-qs, tailgates or Thursday night pub nights and hotel parties. Sometimes we just hang out and drink or play Beruit (a game involving throwing ping-pong balls into cups of beer) or Asshole (like Uno with beer).

Most fraternities at our school are also involved in campus activities, sports and community service.

The only financial requirements are room and board (comparible to campus housing costs) and social dues (aka beer money that can’t be on the same account as the housing money)

What makes it a “brotherhood” is that you take a group of 10-15 similar guys with similar interests and stick them together doing Fraternity related team building activities for 8 weeks. You give them challenges that force them to work together or at the very least, gives them a shared sense of hardship. This is called “pledging”. I should point out that while pledging can consist of activities that suck (like cleaning the house), it is not the same as hazing (like cleaning the house in a diaper while the brother’s pet monkey throw fecal matter at them).

That is not to say that everyone ends up brothers for life. But after 8 weeks and then another couple of years of living in close quarters, you get to know each other pretty well.

Well the way i interpret fraternities and sororities is that the people that join do so b/c they need to pay for friends. Another one goes along similar lines with it actually getting a guy laid.

This comes from a non-frat guy though.

Go back to the drawing board. You might also want to learn a little about what your friends are going through before judging them. Perhaps after being exposed to a broader range of people, they’ve decided that they don’t need to humor the people in their lives who are just plain old tools.

I was just initiated into a fraternity last weekend. I’d just like to share this from an “unofficial guide to student life” from my school…

"The image of scantily clad sorority girls running wildly around a fraternity full of toga wearing drunkards is what many people immediately perceive when they think of fraternities. Unfortunately for proud fraternity men and sorority women, the idea of a brotherhood or sisterhood upholding virtues to guide them in life is usually forgotten, overlooked, or ignored; the fact that many great minds and leaders have been active Greek organization member is neglected. When people choose to be selective on facts, the outcome is negative, and consequently, the truth of the Greek community is blurred. And this happens in a manner both for and against Greek houses. There seems to be such partisanship both for and against Greek houses, that it is hard to accurately and objectively judge the system.
Many houses try to drop the “frat boy” image while others work had to maintain it. The inevitable truth is fraternities will throw parties, because frats are comprised of college kids, and college kids will always party. Some parties are lavish and wild; some are tame, classy or even swanky. But something that every fraternity and sorority knows is the houses at (my school) are generally recognized by the student body according to the parties they throw. Since a brotherhood or sisterhood is only known and understood by those houses’ members, the only way a house can make themselves known to everybody else on campus is through social functions. And although sometimes philanthropic social functions are large enough to succeed in reaching a number of people, the best way is to throw a party.
College students wills always engage in risqué activities and take part in debauchery. At least this is true if the empirical precedent is any record of what is to come. Why should such behavior be heavily blamed on fraternities? One Greek member might argue that Greek life offer a young man or woman opportunities for success, networks, values and virtues, academic integrity and excellence, leadership, and lifelong friendship, not a straight path to vagrancy and a seat at an AA meeting. On the other hand, fraternities usually inspire students to push the envelope in terms of partying, and this often means substance abuse. Because frats are easily recognized organizations that can be blamed when someone is hurt (or God forbid killed) by substance abuse, or a wild, party atmosphere, this aforementioned reputation for debauchery spreads accordingly through society…”
IMHO, no, not a cult.

So basically, you know nothing about fraternities and sororities but are looking to have your negative stereotypes about them confirmed?

Look, greek societies are as varied as the people in them. Some of them make Animal House look like a sewing circle. Others work hard on community and charity projects. Some even do both. Some have posh houses, some have houses that look like they’re about to fall over, some don’t have houses at all. Some enforce common experience through hardship (read: hazing), while others take a much more constructive and positive approach.

You want a good example of greek organizations doing good work? I can think of no better example than the largely Greek-driven and organized Penn State Dance Marathon, in which participants must stay on their feet and moving for 48 hours straight. No sleep breaks, limited bathroom breaks – it’s a grueling event. I worked support staff for it one year, and I don’t know how anyone survives the event. They raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, a charity for children with cancer. This year alone, this group of sad, lonely people just looking to buy some friends, party, and maybe get laid raised over $3 million. As they’d done in the previous three years. And the totals before that were hardly peanuts, either. Remember: this is just a bunch of college students doing this.

And most chapters have individual charities they work with, and many national organizations do as well. My own fraternity (being music-oriented, as I mentioned) raised a couple thousand dollars a year for music scholarships and new music commissions on a local and national level.

So draw your own conclusion, but try to do it based on something other than bad teen movies and the few drunken idiots you see around campus.

I thought Greek societies worshipped The Porcelain God once a week, at least. :wink:

I once knew a guy who complained about how awful the Greek groups were for hazing, then spoke with teary eyed praise for his sports team making him drink so much that he had to get his stomach pumped on several occasions. I never figured that guy out.

Eh, Iwas a Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta) and we weren’t a botherhood as much of a bunch of cliques sharing a house. We had the stoners, the jocks, the grade grubbers, and the like. We didn’t all like each other, but IMO we learned more how to weave wildly disparate personality types into a functional whole than non-Greeks did.

But in our monthly chapter meetings we did wear purple robes and recite a bunch of cabalistic Greek phrases while we conducted house business.

Heh. When I mentioned the fraternities that made Animal House look like a sewing circle, gobear, guess which fraternity in particular I was thinking of? :wink: Please tell me you weren’t at Penn State.

P.S. “Botherhood”? :smiley:

Botherhood: The Winnie The Pooh cult.

The following web page is a pretty good summary of many things that have been written to identify if a group is a cult:

If the specific frat you are looking at has these traits, then it could be a cult.
Most frats won’t have these traits.

For Believers of Very Little Brain.