Social (or academic) organizations which use a Greek-alphabet based naming system. In order to drive this point home, (male) pledges are generally expected to have the Greek Alphabet memorized utterly--in order to ensure this, pledges are expected to recite the entire alphabet no less than three times while holding a burning match. If they haven't finished, then their fingers get burned.

Other rituals are not dissimilar to military induction (read: boot camp); which are psychologically designed to break down the individual ego, and ensure allegiance to the organization. Without this bonding ritual (See: rites of passage), fraternities generally aren't cohesive. This is the real reason for hazing--and the real reason it'll continue despite efforts from the left to eradicate it. Perhaps this explains the effeminate nature of men in NEUS, that is lack of male initiation rituals.

I was a Theta Chi.

A fraternity is a brotherhood or sisterhood (quite a few of what people call sororities are technically women's fraternities because of their consitution) of people who believe in a set of common principles. Fraternities range from the Freemasons to the college fraternities you hear so much about and that I will focus on. The first fraternity was Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776 at William & Mary college to promote the dicussion of intellectual discourse. They became the honor society they are today after their critics grew so loud that they unveiled their secrets and shamed their critics forever. There are many college fraternities nowadays, with many common shared factors: a focus on fraternal regard towards one another (think of an idealization of sibling relationships), strong Masonic elements in their secret rituals, and a focus on development of the individual.

There are no bad fraternities; just the occasional bad chapter. Just because the chapter of a given fraternity on your campus might be cool or a bunch of drunken louts doesn't mean that all members of that fraternity are. Ideally, all fraternities get along, but when in college, emotions often run high and sometimes fraternities tear down the Greek system on a campus beating each other up.

Finally, though it is slightly off-topic, note that hazing is not just against the law in many states, but is also against the rules of many fraternities' national organizations.

Also one of the principles of the French Revolution. Those great men and women would be rolling in their graves if they saw what the term now means.

In my brief time as a college student, I have seen a friend doom himself to be thrown out of the University Honors Program and thereby lose - at least - ten thousand dollars. He took the initiative to move into a frat house several months before the allowed start of actual pledging, and is allowed to sleep at most five hours a day; due to activities they are doing in this time of 'non-pledging', he is unable to do much in the way of studying.
I was tempted for awhile to taddle on that fraternity, but what's the point? If my friend is hard-set on ruining his future, he will do so somehow; if he is not, he will not.

In Brussels, Belgium, fraternities are quite different from what you have in the US of A. Let's sum up the discrepancies and simmilarities (remember : in Belgium, the Flemish speak Dutch and live in the north, the Walloons speak french -exclusively- and live in the south. In Brussels they speak either and understand both):

  • There is a double system for the choice of your "Circle" ("Cercle" / "Kring")
    • faculty circle : when studying in a particular faculty, you can only be a member of the corresponding circle. When you choose to change majors, you have to change circles, although you keep a trace on your hat. The different circles are
      • Cercle Polytechnique (CP)/ Polytechnische Kring (PK): for the engineering school
      • Cercle des Sciences (CdS) / Wetenschappelijk kring (WK) : science students
      • Cercle de droit (CD) / Vlaamse Rechtsgenootschap (VRG) : Law students
      • Cercle Kine (CK) / Mesacosa : kinesitherapy /sports
      • and more
    • regional circle (cercles regionaux / regionale kringen): You can generally choose to be a member of as many regional circles as you want, based generally on where in Belgium you come from, but there is no rule. Different RKs are :
      • Antverpia (A'pia) : for students from Antwerp
      • Limburgia (Lia) : foooor thooooose froooomm Liiiiiiiimbuuuuuuuurg
      • Oostense Ploate : for those from Ostend
      • Brugse studentekring (BSK) : Bruges
      • Kring der Brusselse Studenten (KBS) : Brussels
  • It's not sorority vs. fraternity, it's the same club for either genders.
  • It doesn't cost you much : basically, every freshman ("Les Bleus" / "De Schachten") is automatically member of his faculty's Circle ("Cercle" / "Kring") is member for free, older students ("Poils" / "Anciens") have to pay about 5 te be. Further a drinking and singing ("Cantus") night costs about 5€, you get in a dancing party ("TD" for "Thé dansant") for 2€ and pay about 1€ per beer
  • You don't have to be twenty one to get legally drunk. Not even eighteen.
  • Everyone is welcome at every other circle's parties. Except for some folklorical ceremonies, where you have to be baptized (see next point)
  • We don't have a pledge ceremony, we have a baptism ceremony ("Les baptemes" / "De Dopen"). The freshmen have to go on a stage and perform a play, entirely naked. The girls can and do keep their panties, although we have the occasional full monty. While they perform, the "Anciens" throw "klasj" (pronounced "clash") at them. It's a mixing of methylen blue, mashed sugar beet, and flour. It is in no way a hateful thing, as during the pause, they will throw it at each other and even fight or dry hump in the Klasj. The message we send them is thus to be understood as "Now you're part of the club". Those who volunteer (I was one) can have their head and / or pubis shaved.
  • Once a freshman is baptized, he is a full member of the circle, and may wear the lab jacket ( "Tablier" / "Labojas") and the hat ("La Penne" / "De Klak"). The hat as visor of arbitrary length. It is white except for the engineers who wear a black one. One the back is the sign of the faculty. There is a ribbon around the hat that matches the faculty color :
    • Black for the engineers,
    • Bordeaux for law
    • Purple for science
    • Green for pharmacy
    • Red for medicine
    • Orange for applied economics
    • Red for sports / kine
    • and so on
    When You change majors, you only change the ribbon. In the front of the hat, you put a new golden star each year, except when you have to start over, in which case it is a silver star. If you're an engineer, it's the opposite color scheme, and stars are replaced by bolts. You also add color letters, indicating clearly what circles you're members of.

About a fortnight after the last faculty baptism took place, on november 20, the whole university closes to celebrate it's founder, Pierre Theodore Verhaegen (St-Vé). Every circle rents a truck. We fight with methylen blue, flour, eggs and homemade mixtures. When everything is up, we climb on the trucks and are led -under strong police escort- to the Sablon / Zavel. The richest square in Brussels, and stay there all day, drinking, singing until bored, then eventually go home happy.

Germany also has many fraternities. The are some similarities to american ones and many differences. Almost all German Fraternities have their own House were the members meet for Partying and other social events. The difference is that not all Fraternity members live in the House. Beer is the generally consumed in more than large quantities and there are several drinking rituals. For example the "Bierjunge" which essentially means "Beerboy". If somebody calls you a "Bierjunge" and you say "Hängt" which essentially means "I accept", you and your opponent each drink a quantity of Beer as fast as you can. The quantities range from a tiny 0.25 Liter to a respectable 1.5 Liter. "Bierjunge" are usually drunk when one person insults the other and he demands satisfaction. Most Members wear a 3-colored sash which identifies them. So there are no secret handshakes like in America.

Fra*ter"ni*ty (?), n.; pl. Fraternities (#). [F. fraternit'e, L. fraternitas.]

1.

The state or quality of being fraternal or brotherly; brotherhood.

2.

A body of men associated for their common interest, business, or pleasure; a company; a brotherhood; a society; in the Roman Catholic Chucrch, an association for special religious purposes, for relieving the sick and destitute, etc.

3.

Men of the same class, profession, occupation, character, or tastes.

With what terms of respect knaves and sots will speak of their own fraternity! South.

 

© Webster 1913.

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