WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ– To what can one attribute the allure of college? Is it the “promise”—notice the quotes—of a job after four years? Is it the lack of parental restriction that allows students to binge drink at their own discretion? Or is it the ease of solidifying a core group of friends with whom you will remain with for the remainder of your days: the bridesmaids and groomsmen at your wedding and the ones that stay up much too late grabbing you water as your wrap your arms around a toilet bowl?
The truth of the matter is that there is no specific factor that attracts a potential student, rather, a conglomeration of the above and a number of things not mentioned. In fact, to many, the idea of getting inebriated doesn’t quite sit right.
Imagine yourself an incoming freshman that has just waved their parents goodbye on the first day of school. Fueled by the internal longing to assimilate with the culture of the university, you begin to explore the various extracurricular options you can find on campus. You find the outdoors club, mock trial, student government association and many others, but can’t imagine yourself fitting in with the students. Then, one night, you venture out to Meet the Greeks, get into a conversation with a number of brothers in various fraternities and decide on your own that you like the idea of joining a Greek organization.
But the friends you’ve already made aren’t keen on the idea themselves and rush to tell you that going Greek is just a way of “paying for friends”; however, going Greek is much more than that.
According to the Monmouth University Fraternity and Sorority Life page, joining a Greek organization provides the following:
- Leadership opportunities both in your chapter and in the larger fraternal community
- A national network of sisters or brothers, and alumni
- Community service experience on and off campus
- Self-confidence and problem-solving skills
- Resources to help you achieve academic success
Reading the benefits contextually, though, one doesn’t have the opportunity to see what it does for the individual affiliated.
Monmouth University’s Tau Kappa Epsilon is the oldest fraternity on campus, established in 1966, and currently carries with it the largest number of students of any fraternal organization on campus. Further, it is the largest fraternity by chapter both nationally and internationally. To work along that line, brothers are promised the largest network of post-graduate brothers to facilitate in the ease of entering the workplace after graduation.
The overarching goal of the fraternity is to better its members as men by establishing in them the virtues of love, charity and esteem through philanthropic donation and service. Members are required to complete several dozen hours of community service to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and contribute to a number of other local organizations including Restore the Shore and Sea Bright Rising.
But all meat and potatoes aside, you choose the organization you wish to join based upon the brothers or sisters that you become friends with throughout the recruitment process. As you join the organization and spend more time with the others joining with you, you gradually become closer to those you interact with, it’s an organic concept.
This is where the idea of “paying for friends” stems from. Members are required to pay annual membership and insurance fees to the national headquarters of the organization and then fund the endeavors of the organization as a whole. One can only assume that they are paying for friends, but in all reality they’re paying for the fun things they’re doing with their friends.
Imagine you and a couple buddies decide you want to go bowling—you’re paying for gas to get there, the games themselves, and shoe and ball rentals, but, no, you aren’t paying for your friends. It’s the same concept under a different setting.
According to Kevin Gilsenan, former president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, “Joining TKE was the best decision I’ve ever made. It has taught me extremely important leadership and time management skills as well as given me the best friends I’ve ever made. In all honestly, I’ve learned more through TKE than I ever have in a classroom”.
Going Greek may not be for you, and that is totally fine. Not one sister or brother is a convert and not one will ostracize you for thinking differently than they do. All in all, the decision is yours and yours alone—don’t allow that to be swayed by those that tell you you’re “paying for friends”.