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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

Toga, Toga, Toga by Bryan

On being in a fraternity (info for parents too)

“You’re joining a fraternity? What?!?!?!?”

I think this is what a lot of my friends back home thought to themselves when I told them my freshman year that I had pledged, but I never really heard them say that.

So in high school, I was a pretty shy person. I was very quiet, went to class, went to soccer practice, went home, watched cartoons, then went to sleep. So to a degree, the reaction my friends had was well deserved.

When I came to MIT, I had no clue who I was going to meet and who my friends were going to be. All I knew is that I was coming to MIT with one other person from my high school, and he was going off to live in New House, and I was on my way to Baker.

(pause for information)

Just a few facts about fraternities:
– MIT has over 20 fraternities and 5 sororities (I know more about fraternities)
– Fraternity rush begins following Orientation and lasts for up to two weeks.
– Over those two weeks, you get to meet the houses, eat free food, go do really fun activities, and if you like them and they like you, you probably end up getting a bid to join their fraternity. (Procedures vary from house to house, and they’re pretty much top secret).
– You can’t live in your fraternity during your freshman year.

(resume anecdotes)

While I tell myself I would come to MIT openminded, I was initially pretty opposed to the idea of joining a fraternity, I’ll be honest. I went to high school in the south, and you know, crazy stories travel from the college towns to suburbia where I’m from faster than Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. When asked by the then Interfraternity Council president if I was interested in joining a fraternity, I told him “no, no thanks.” I really thought fraternities were just a quick way to make friends; now I might have been a shy person, but with or without a fraternity, I knew I’d be able to make friends.

I saw Animal House too.

Clearly, I changed my mind. Just like most things at MIT, fraternities are a little bit different here, so I shouldn’t just have ruled them out from the beginning. Personally, I’ve gotten a lot out of my experience, because I’ve found that living at ZBT I have a really strong support network of people, and I also just have access to a lot of knowledge about classes, applying for jobs, etc. I discovered that fraternities actually do a lot for the community, provide a lot of development opportunities, expose you to the realities of living in a house that requires repair and where broken pipes aren’t repaired by the tooth fairy.

So for all of you 2010s on your way to MIT, stay openminded about not just fraternities and greek life, but just a lot of the opportunities you’ll be introduced to when you first get here. If nothing else, don’t pass up the surf and turf dinners at the houses the first night of rush.

Parents, to a degree, this has to be a decision your son or daughter has to make on their own. Nothing crazy is going to happen to your son or daughter, and no one is going to force them to do something they don’t want to do. And if they even try, the ghost of the MIT legal system will be haunting them for a little while.

Just my $.02.

Feel free to ask questions as I imagine students and parents have a lot of questions about what it is like to be in a fraternity.

2 responses to “Toga, Toga, Toga”

  1. Leo Luo says:

    Bryan,

    Thanks for this very helpful post that corrected many of my misperceptions!

    I watched Animal House too, several times actually.

    Here are the questions:

    1. How large are the individual rooms in a frat house(or in your case)?

    2. Is it a expensive activity to pursue?

    Best wishes,

    Leo

  2. Anonymous says:

    If I get financial aid from MIT, is there any way I can get some for the greek societies as well?