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Going Greek

Going Greek

Date: Sep 09 2005


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One of the unique aspects of American university life is the Greek system. The Greek system is a community of fraternities and sororities that promotes academic achievement, community involvement and social development, though its popular reputation is of wild parties and hazing.
Fraternities and sororities have a lot of secret rituals and traditions. Before a pledge can become a member, he/she must study lore, attend private meetings and endure a week-long initiation ritual called “Hell Week.”


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Dave:  John, you know what’s really unique about American universities is the Greek system.

John:  Oh yeah, were you in a house in school?

Dave:  Yeah, I was a member of Beta.

John:  Oh, cool. I was a Phi Psi.

Dave:  You were a Phi Psi, really?

John:  Yeah, I think at [the University of] Oregon the…the Beta house was right across the street from the Phi Psi house. My dad was a Beta so he was always telling me to go Beta.

Dave:  Oh yeah? You went your own way. That’s good.

John:  I did. I did my own thing.

Dave:  Did you have a good time in the Greek system?

John:  I did. It was, you know, I met a lot of good friends. There were some rituals and traditions that I didn’t think were too cool but, you know, I kind of went along with it.

Dave:  Yeah, yeah. What was it like? What kind of rituals, traditions?

John:  Probably the same stuff as you. You know, certain dinners and…and way of doing things. You had initiation where you had to spend a week, you know, cleaning the house and going through weird little things to test your devotion to the…to the fraternity.

Dave:  Yeah, yeah.

John:  You did all that stuff?

Dave:  Yeah, a lot of secret stuff like that, which we can’t talk about. But anybody who’s interested in an American university will certainly come across the Greek system.



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The classic movie Animal House shows the popular reputation of the Greek system through crazy keggers, womanizing and hazing. As Dean Vernon Wormer (John Vernon) says to one fraternity member, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Sadly, that is the how the general public views fraternity members: fat, drunk and stupid.
Many famous people were members of secret campus organizations during their college years. George W. Bush, like his father before him, was a member of the ultra-secret fraternity Skull and Bones while at Yale University. Brad Pitt was a member of Sigma Chi at the University of Missouri. David Duchovny and Adam Sandler were members of Tau Epsilon Phi at Columbia University.
If you plan to earn an undergraduate degree from an American university, check out some of these sites to get a better understanding of the Greek system at your school.
Campus Life
Social Fraternities
Beta Theta Pi
Sigma Chi
Delta Tau
Social Sororities
Tri Delta
Alpha Phi


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