OPINION: Greek life challenges the stereotype

By Ethan Hunt, The Appalachian; photo via Instagram @appstategreeks

When I came to college, I had no intention of joining a fraternity. In my mind, fraternities represented a hostile environment of competitive people who displayed a sense of superiority over the student body. I assumed that what I knew about fraternities was true across the board, regardless of the school, and that although App States culture is unique in its acceptance and laid back nature, the fraternities here would be the same as any other school in the country. 

In my first week at App State, as I struggled to find friends, I was approached by members of Greek life and decided to give it a shot. As I explored App State Greek life, I began to realize that perhaps my previously held conceptions about fraternities were not applicable. 

At first glance they appeared as stereotypical as any other, the clothes they wore, the mannerisms they used, the way they spoke, in many ways reflected what movies and the news had taught me. But what I didn’t find was a hostile environment or a superiority complex. The people I met cared about each other, they didn’t put each other down or compete to be the biggest douche, but instead supported each other the way friends should. I noticed that if a brother seemed down, the rest of the chapter would rally in support around that person. They were kind to outsiders, and not just the ones they were attempting to recruit, but treated people the same, regardless of if they wore greek letters. 

I kept looking for the things I had always heard about fraternity members, that they were bigots, that they all had inflated egos propped up by their parents’ money. But again, I found limited evidence. There was the occasional wealthy brother, but money was no more common than in the general student body. Bigotry, like at the rest of App State, was not tolerated, on occasion brothers would make off color jokes, but they were met with reproach and ridicule, not laughter. 

After rushing I decided to continue the process, I finished pledging and am now a fraternity member. My preconceived notions about fraternities that I held as a freshman are proved wrong over and over again. App State Greek life is a unique and special thing, and I am thankful everyday for the close supportive group of people it allowed me to find early in my college career. I hope that my chapter, and the rest at App State, can continue to challenge the unfortunate stereotypes that are so often attributed to fraternities. That we can be an example for how wearing Greek letters should mean you are a kinder, more accepting, understanding, better person and not the opposite.