Are frats really that crazy?
Going back to 1978 with the release of “Animal House”, which became one of the most successful comedies of all time, to 2014 with the release of “Neighbors”, fraternities have been portrayed as groups of Neanderthals that do nothing but party, drink alcohol and abuse drugs. Fraternities have been called out on national television for purported participation in horrific activities. Certainly, if a fraternity is engaging in rushing or any behavior that crosses the line, they should, and will, end up either on suspension or maybe even kicked off-campus. But talk with many of the young men in fraternities at FAU, and they will speak of brotherhood, a lifetime of friendships and access to leadership positions on campus.
Florida Atlantic University is home to 8 national or international fraternities. Just like the sororities, the fraternities do not have housing. Their meetings and events are typically held on campus. Rush is year-round, a formal is held in the fall and an informal event is held in the spring semester. The requirements for the fraternity rush are that all interested men must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours and must have at least a 2.5 GPA. FAU recommends students have at least a 2.75, however, some of the fraternities will accept students with a 2.5 GPA.
For parents of incoming freshmen, you have probably started to hear about rushing a fraternity. The way rush is handled for fraternities is radically different than sororities, but I am glad to give you the parent perspective on both, either way, you will not find too many who love the process. But like it or not, Greek life does have its advantages. To ease the nerves of every parent, The University does not allow hazing of any kind; in fact, the FAU has a zero-tolerance policy on hazing. A few years back, the university rolled out its initiative “Real Owls Don’t Haze”. This program requires all prospective new members to complete an online program before registering for Rush and accepting a bid from any Greek-letter organization. If a hazing incident is reported, the fraternity or sorority will face action from their respective Council’s Judicial Board.
The more official rush is usually the second or third week of school when many of the chapters will host dinners, table out in the breezeway to talk to students and hold nightly events at various locations. At that time, boys can visit each fraternities’ tables to learn more or attend the events of Rush week. It is at these events that they are greeted by brothers who will “interview” them. They can get asked to leave (yes, asked to leave, as in, “We don’t think you will fit in here. You can leave now”) regardless of how much time they have invested getting to know some of the other brothers. Try to encourage your son to broaden his horizons and check out all the frats, not just the ones deemed popular. He may be pleasantly surprised by some of the smaller fraternities. Try to stay in touch with your son as his support system; should he need it. The rejection is real. Most boys do find their fraternity; others may not get accepted to the frat of their choice, but there is a second rush opportunity in the spring.
Hopefully, your son will be able to move beyond the labels and focus more on finding like-minded young men and a place where he will fit in. He may also want to consider the fraternity’s’ national standing. This can come in rather handy later when looking to network and find a job in the world beyond college even in another city.
Rush is based on first impressions, judgments, and appearances; certainly, in the first few rounds. This being said, mention to your son to be sure his social media is looking good. Don’t think they won’t check. The Interfraternity Council tries to promote the positive aspects of joining a fraternity and takes it very seriously. They try to oversee that regulations are upheld, but they can only have eyes in so many places.
Here is a little about how it works. Let’s say your son gets a bid from the house he wants. A bid is basically an invitation to join their fraternity. They then have three options to either 1.) Accept the bid and rush is over for him or 2.) Sit on the bid, the most common choice during rush week, as it allows him to continue to visit other frats and maybe even collect more bids. In the end, he can only accept one of the bids or 3.) Decline a bid and continue the hunt. And then the fun really begins; new member period.
Once a bid has been accepted, your student becomes a new member. Fraternities have been in the national spotlight due to the tragic death of several members at various college campuses. Many Universities are taking a very strict approach to suspend any organization for any infraction that falls under their definition of hazing. Test your knowledge of hazing here. Talk to your student before he accepts a bid as to how to handle any situation that makes him feel uncomfortable.
At this point, you may be thinking why would I want my son to subject himself to going through this process? Personally speaking, while fraternity life may not be for everyone, they do offer a lot of benefits including being extremely visible and active on campus, involvement in philanthropies and they make FAU feel a little smaller. Fraternity brothers partake in rituals that are unique to their letters, nationally and internationally, promoting brotherhood. Frats provide leadership opportunities as they are student-run organizations. It teaches them a great deal about social interactions and hopefully about being a gentleman as they will always be representing their letters. Each chapter charges its members’ dues. These dues pay for all of their programs and materials as well as their obligations to the international office. While there is a financial obligation, chapters do create payment plans for members needing special consideration. There may also be additional fees for retreats, formals, etc.
Learn the facts about Florida Atlantic University Fraternity rush click here.
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