Kin, colleague, student, friend – the words I hear which paint the canvas of a man called “brother”. It manifests a relationship that runs thicker than blood, and it shows how deep that relationship becomes in real life. And yet, however much of a powerful phenomenon this relationship is and has become, it is stained with violence and misplaced debauchery; it is besmirched with the actions of malefactors who incite trouble through their wickedness. What I mean by all these is the idea of fraternity now confusing everyone, taking a turn for the worse with all the gang wars and death by hazing (or some other activity relating to the affiliates, since hazing is technically not allowed as mandated by law).
Whatever happened to collective action and mutual interest? I think these qualities in fraternities are still prevalent; the brotherhood still functions as a support system which one can avail of and somehow contribute to later. Not only that, but fraternities of universities have been aiding their school with infrastructural and academic assistance. What is more is that recognized fraternities have given social services not only to those within campus, but also to the less fortunate outside the walls of their school. Fraternities have existed for that very reason, and that is to provide individuals of equal interests a certain support system that can aid their journey in pursuit of those interests. They have organized in almost all specific fields, from the hard and soft sciences, to culture and the arts.
Because certain splinter groups of these fraternities have greatly deviated from the principles that govern the brotherhood in good will, this very issue makes me feel uneasy. These are students most likely barely off their teens (or in their teens) wasting their good age for certain things unnecessary for human development. It is a very secretive issue that only swells up into the public eye whenever bombshell events like death (or the likes of) slide in the scene. It pains me to see young individuals in their prime unable to maximize their youth (and probably even existence) on more productive and self-sustaining activities.
This is also why I think the University is blessed to have institutions that try to disallow these kinds of things from happening – not that fraternal organizations are malicious in any way, but it provides a safety net from negative externalities emanating from fraternity issues. The University is lucky to be able to shelter students from extensive knowledge of fraternities, especially with the kind of culture Lasallians have. Had La Salle not institutionalized the non-fraternity contracts, my fear for today’s new wave of students would be on fraternities without good value judgment. The following statement might be very assumptive, but rest assured, it is a fear that many of this generation’s youth are able to relate to.
I believe that today’s generation of enrollees (along with their parents) to the University have two dominant perspectives on what fraternities are. First, there are those who fear even the word fraternity because of all this malevolence going around. The word fraternity is in itself a word frowned upon when it comes to universities and membership. Hence, the parent concerned will do everything to indoctrinate his or her child with whatever so-called “evils” are associated with fraternities.
The second – and this is what I fear the most – is that there are those who see fraternal association and membership as a status quo. It is the kind of mentality that is built up through both peer pressure and insecurity that is found within the student concerned. Thus, it is something that some individuals see as an opportunity to expand their networks and gain certain security with. And it is usually with this second perception that individuals rush in to what they don’t completely understand.
And yet the reality of everything is that this latter assumption gets everyone so worked up from both parties – the fraternal associates and fraternity avoiders.
For students who get themselves involved in any kind of trouble with other fraternities, certain consequences do take a heavy toll on both the individual and his family. For instance, students have been reported to commit suicide rather than face opposition because of their own fault or worse, because of some dirty misunderstanding. It is not just a waste of good youth but also a grave loss to a family that does not only lose a huge investment in their child, but also the life of the child himself. Mischievous deviants of certain fraternities find it somehow amusing to arbitrarily hurt opposing or even neutral fraternities, however sick that may be.
It adds unnecessary baggage for everyone – friends, family, even the student – to carry all these burdens of academic life as well as fraternal tension. The individual is given more things to think about and the main purpose of why a fraternity is built is lost in all of these things.
It is because of this dialectic tension that arises from people concerning fraternities, as well as the concrete manifestations of those perspectives, that it becomes important to mitigate and prevent those exact things from happening. And again, I say the University is blessed because it has institutions that protect students from these unnecessary burdens. It is a non-pervasive issue because many are sworn to secrecy in the University; but my deep concern is that I just hope students have this active mindset, knowing fully what they are getting themselves into, and maximizing such membership not for the wrong reasons.
And again, it is not to say that fraternities are built because of ill will. But like a lot of things, we tend to forget the purpose for engaging in things like collective action, and turn out twisting its very core function. What makes it even more depressing is that we create institutions that hinder us from this kind of activity that is supposed to be meant for human development.