But, Really, Aren't We All in Frats?

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm greeting to all first year students. Welcome to the University of Missouri. In the next few weeks, you will go through an experience that you can only go through once in your life: your first week at college. You will have a lot of new things to figure out, like where to find your books; why your psychology class is located in the geology building; where to hide your extensive collection of hardcore pornography in a two-by-four foot dorm room; and why so many 22-year olds have Razor™ scooters. But aside from these mind-benders, you will also have a very significant social choice to make: whether or not to pledge a fraternity or a sorority.

Fraternities and sororities have long been considered by those of us in the non-Greek population to be organizations full of tradition, mystery and beer. The brothers and sisters in fraternity and sorority houses, however, often get a bad rap for "paying for their friends" or "suckling off an enormous teat that secretes the sweet, sweet milk of communal personality." Yes, believe it or not, some people actually believe that fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are nothing more than people who pay to be apart of a group who decides how they should think, act, talk, and look.

But I ask you, newcomers, wasn't it the father of our country, Abraham Lincoln, who said, "show me your friends, and I will show you some real ugly people?" And wasn't it Japanese-turned-American baseball star Ichiro Suzuki who said "Show me those with whom you walk, and I will show you yourself?"

These are difficult things to think about as one travels the long, difficult road that is what the Chinese call Kuo-Tae, or, literally, fried dumpling. Before one reaches the delicious spiced meat of friendship within the dumpling, one must tackle the poisonous shell of doughy hatred on the outside. This journey can be a frightening one, and is best embarked upon with those who have similar interests as you, so as to find common ground in getting to the tasty friendship-meat.

In this aspect, we are all in fraternities or sororities in one way or another. It is our instinct as humans to befriend those with whom we have similar tastes, interests, and even styles. This is best reflected through extracurricular organizations.

For example, I am a part of Comic Aftertaste, Mizzou's only and therefore premier sketch comedy troupe. Although the members of our troupe come from all over the country (spanning 4 states), have different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and have different majors, we all get along because we have one big thing in common: we are all going to hell. Some people will tell you that it is harder to write comedy than drama. Nobody knows this better than the Dark Prince himself, Satan. So in return for comic genius, we all sold our souls to the Great Beezlebub. We'll see you in hell, Carrot Top!

The moral of today's column is this: In a way, we are all in fraternities and sororities. Any group of friends - whether it is an extracurricular club or just your regular, everyday, run-of-the-mill gerbil prostitution ring - is going to have one big characteristic that everybody in said group has in common. Wherever you go at MU, greek or not greek, there will be a group where you can meet people with similar interests. For example, the members of the MU Society of Satan Worshipers (MUSSW) are really into unicycles for some reason.

Originally posted 13 July 2001.

Also appeared in the July 23, 2001 edition of the MU Student News.