American college culture is something that can be an elusive beast. Endless quizzes, wild frat parties, and annoying roommates were what I thought I’d have to look forward to, but it now seems as if the conceptions I had about college won’t become a reality. I view the American college experience with the same sense of mystery that I had before. I still wonder what my life would have been like if I chose an experience true to my culture, but I must admit that I picked a much more comfortable alternative.
It’s not hard to stay connected with friends at American universities. We maintain our Snapchat streaks and send little updates to be sure we are all doing okay. I ask about what’s new and exciting, noting how each of my closest friends have changed. I often see facets of their lives that I will never entirely understand. I find an Instagram story containing a sea of red solo cups. I see charity sorority events and hear of frat parties that were shut down, resulting in college students scrambling to avoid charges for their underground drinking antics. I see rowdy football games and weekend trips back home and preparation for weekly quizzes.
I see friends comparing their experiences, and I read something that is hard to forget. “That frat is my favorite because they don’t drug.” Throughout my mundane daily experiences, I often forget why I willingly did not partake in such an instrumental facet of my culture.
It’s not uncommon to believe that a group of college boys deserves a reward for practicing decency and respecting consent. I forget that I have the ability to live in a society where I do not have to fear a majority of social events I attend, but my friends have to constantly worry about sticking together in an effort to get home safely.
It’s important to note that these worries aren’t nonexistent where I am now, but they are far less extreme without the prevalence of frat culture. Frat culture is just a single factor of university in America, but it drives so much of social life that it’s almost impossible to avoid, and almost impossible to question.
I cannot understand how men would pay to be tortured and hazed for a semester in order to be welcomed into a ‘brotherhood.’ If only there was an outlet for male friendship that encouraged true camaraderie and emotional connection. I can, however, appreciate hours of community services and funds raised for philanthropy but we have to question whether those contributions to charity really act as a mask to cover the problematic institutions that fraternities enforce. Philanthropic actions can’t cancel out the misconduct that’s found throughout so much of Greek life.
My friends are constantly being exposed to ideas of masculinity that remain pertinent to our culture long past college. There’s a danger that Americans will continue to adhere to traditional ideas about men, expecting them to constantly maintain an attitude of emotional suppression and a tough façade.
A continued acceptance of practices that fraternities implement will cause us to grow up finding “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys” mentality acceptable. From an outsider’s view, it is clear that we can’t continue to raise generations to believe that frat boys deserve a get out of jail free card just because they are adhering to traditional values of masculinity.
Frat culture skews what is acceptable from boys, suggesting that their actions are without consequences. I can only hope that we will eventually consider that men should be held accountable for their actions and that even the most powerful men should adhere to standards of decency. America depends on it.