By Aaron Dias
When you hear the term fraternity what are some things that come to mind? For many, the negative stigma outshines the true nature of fraternities. Greek life seems to be most closely associated with the “frat bro” mentality. Hazing allegations, wild parties and sexual assault allegations are often what find their way onto the front page of the news, while the many positive aspects of Greek life are often overlooked.
The two national fraternities at Fitchburg State University, Sigma Pi and Sigma Tau Gamma, offer examples of the good these organizations can do.
Sigma Pi is “a social fraternity with emphasis on academics,” as Brian Andy, the herald of the fraternity, puts it. To those who say that fraternities take away from academics, Sigma Pi has a minimum GPA requirement of a 2.75 to be an active member. “The point of the fraternity is to develop the character of men,” Andy says; people go to college to improve themselves, so why would an institution within the university try to lower a student’s grade?
Andy also spoke against the perversion side of the fraternal stigma. “Our first chair, the Sargent at Arms, on our Executive Board is in charge of monitoring the behavior of the brothers during and after events,” Andy said. “Any brother that acts against the values of [our mission statement] are sent to the fraternity’s judicial board where they could face many possible sanctions, including expulsion from the chapter.” The Sargent at Arms acts mostly in a disciplinary role and holds accountable the other brothers for their actions.
Fraternities are also heavily involved in charitable work. “We do a lot of philanthropy work on campus,” said Devin Salviuolo, the philanthropy chair for Sigma Pi. “Recently we had our Autism Auction and our Sleep Out for the Homeless.” Sigma Pi runs events of which the proceeds go to organizations such as Autism Speaks and Our Father’s House.
Sigma Tau Gamma is involved in charitable work as well. “[Sigma Tau Gamma] hosts events for their national philanthropy which is Special Olympics. Our events raise awareness and money for those who suffer from disabilities,” says Juan Orta, president of programs for the fraternity. “At Video Game-a-thon we play videogames for 24 hours, selling old games and food as well. We as a chapter support The American Cancer Society and Toys for Tots.”
Sigma Tau Gamma takes a stance on discipline that differs from the other organization. “As brothers, we see if we can help each other out at any point,” Orta said. “We tell new members our standards for this chapter and what we stand for.” Their mission statement is as follows: “I believe that Sigma Tau Gamma endeavors to bind men together in a fraternal brotherhood based upon these eternal and immutable truths, which are set forth in the Principles and in the Code of Conduct of our Fraternity.”
They also take schoolwork seriously. “We have a minimum GPA to be in the chapter is a 2.5,” Orta said. “For you to have a chair position, you have to have a 2.7 and if you want to hold an Executive Board position you need above a 3.0. Most of my brothers want to help out and be involved so for them to do that, they have to have good grades,” Orta says.