What is a Fraternity?
A fraternity is a group of men united by their commitment to a brotherhood based on shared ideals. Each member, or brother, is responsible for upholding the standards and beliefs of their brotherhood. Joining a fraternity is a lifelong commitment; all members are expected to learn and grow, contributing their knowledge and experiences to strengthen their fraternity.
Fraternities have been a part of American university and college campuses since the late 18th century. The first Greek fraternal organization created in the United States was the Phi Beta Kappa society, organized in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. This society focused on literary and academic excellence. Eventually, students found themselves wanting a more social-based fraternal organization. Thus, the Kappa Alpha Society was established in 1825 at Union College. This was the first social Greek organization and created a precedent of establishment for other fraternities to follow.
The majority of fraternities are social organizations. These fraternities emphasize values of brotherhood, fellowship, and friendship. They are present at most universities and colleges and are what most people envision when they hear the word “fraternity.” Although these organizations are popular, they are not the only option when looking to join a fraternity.
Examples: Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike), Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), Kappa Sigma, Kappa Alpha Society, Sigma Chi
Service fraternities, although not as common, are still a really great way to get involved with Greek life on campus. Service fraternities focus mainly on community service and involvement.
Examples: Alpha Phi Omega, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Gamma Sigma Sigma
Professional fraternities are designed for the betterment of oneself professionally. They do focus on brotherhood and do have social-fraternity-like structures like pledgeship, but primarily concern themselves with a certain professional category. Professional fraternities are a way for people in the same professional study to connect and help each other grow.
Examples: Alpha Kappa Psi (business), Delta Theta Pi (law)
Honor fraternities are ways for students of a specific field of study to get recognized for their hard work and contributions to their field. They are a great way to network and advance one’s career after graduation.
Examples: Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa
Religious and ethnic fraternities are a type of social fraternity whose membership is only offered to a certain religion or race. These fraternities are a great way to connect with your heritage or be involved in local advocation work in your community.
Examples: Alpha Phi Alpha (historically black), Lambda Sigma Theta (Latino), Alpha Epsilon Pi (Jewish)
One major part of fraternities that is overlooked is their dedication to philanthropy. Almost all fraternities are active in their community, with social and service fraternities having the biggest impact. Many social fraternities have a national philanthropic organization that they fundraise for, not to mention the local service they may do throughout the year. On the other hand, service fraternities’ fundamental principle is community service. These fraternities have a huge impact on their local community.