Fraternity: What's in a Name?

As a college student preparing to enter into the real world, I find it important to be educated about current events. I spend plenty of time each day dabbling on news websites and am particularly intrigued by any news, story, or advice that relates to higher education. It's wonderful that there are legitimate sources of information, like HuffPost College, directed specifically towards college students. However, there is one criticism that I have towards some of the aforementioned publications. That is the use of the term 'frat' as opposed to 'fraternity.' For years, advocates of Greek life and leaders within collegiate communities have aimed to use the term 'fraternity' in all settings. Having attended national Greek conferences and events, I have met chapter members from different schools and locations all over the country, and hold great respect for sorority women and fraternity men. Quite honestly, it comes as an insult when an organization of young men that is based on paramount standards and morals isn't regarded enough to be called by its entire name.

The word fraternity describes a group of men that share a bond of brotherhood unlike any other. I will not lie to you and say that all fraternity men are perfectly behaved and that all organizations abide by every standard, all the time. News headlines about Greeks remind me of their imperfections on a near-daily basis. However, many fraternities and sororities are full of developing leaders that do a lot of hard work for charitable organizations. For every frat boy we hear about that got in trouble for hazing, there are five fraternity men who volunteer weekly with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. I know that trying to change the general public's perception of Greek life is a completely different ballgame, but the connotations associated with the word frat are all too often negative and should be avoided. Most stories we read about fraternities are negative in themselves, and the authors could, at the very least, use proper language in reference to the group. Many times the word fraternity is spelled out in full within articles or in some headlines, so hopefully it is reasonable to ask that it be spelled out every time.

Being a part of a fraternity or a sorority is a very meaningful experience. Fraternities are colonized based on values and ethics that their members try to live up to a hundred years after their founding. Being part of a sorority has given me some amazing opportunities and relationships that have directly affected the success that I have had as an undergraduate, and I know many other Greek men and women that can say the same. College campuses have evolved, and along with them their Greek communities. Presently, members of fraternities (at least the ones intelligent enough to take the time to peruse news websites) do not refer to themselves as frat boys. This is similar to calling members of Congress something like 'Congies' in an article headline, in my honest opinion.

Media portrayal of Greeks is rather poor. In order to give credit to organizations that are run by students to enhance their own college experience and have an impact on the world around them, an extremely positive step would be to call fraternities by their actual name.