When I think of fraternities, I often think in images; beer pong tables, guys running around without pants, pledges standing out in the rain and screaming renditions of the school’s fight song…you know, the typical, Hollywoodified version of Greek life.
What I never picture is yoga.
No, not toga. Yoga. As in stretching and breathing. As in Fraternity brothers stretching and breathing together at 8 A.M.
Across the nation, Fraternities have been attempting to revamp their image. Suffering from bad press, reports of hazing, and general ill-will from other members of their Universities, certain Greek organizations have decided to replace the drinking and partying with “honorable”, healthy living.
The Sigma Phi Epsilon house at the University of Missouri-Columbia is a shining example of Fraternities Gone Good. Aside from those early morning yoga classes, “trips to the opera, wine tastings and documentary film screenings” are all part of Missouri Sigma Phi Epsilon’s “Balanced Man” initiative.
After a particularly questionable hazing incident, the national group of Sigma Phi Epsilon kicked out a dozen members who didn’t “measure up to their new standards”, and began the slow process of eradicating hazing and accepting new members who appreciated the lack of obnoxious, often embarrassing rituals.
“We’re doing our best to destroy the frat boy stereotype,” explains Matthew Ontell, director of the new national Sigma Phi Epsilon image. “This is what Greek life is supposed to be about, holding men to a higher standard.”
While a lot of Fraternities will probably continue to harass their new members and attempt to make drinking a national sport, I, for one, am personally happy to see some guys stepping up and acting like men.
Hazing has—and always will be—a ridiculous, immature way for certain members of a group to put themselves above others. Although I’m not sure how interested a bunch of college guys really are in “trips to the opera”, opting for that over setting each other’s underwear on fire?
Definitely a step in the right direction.