Social versus professional fraternities

Story by Madeline Meyer

With over 160 organizations on campus, choosing where to get involved might seem overwhelming. Greek life is one facet where students tend to migrate.

A third of campus is involved in social sororities and fraternities at Drake University. People chose to participate in Greek life for a myriad of reasons, but many might overlook the fact that Drake students have two options for Greek life.

Social fraternities and sororities and professional fraternities are two different routes potential recruits may take, and aspirational students might tend to try both. Junior Alex Hilton is a member of both types of Greek life. He is the president of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi as well as a member of social fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“I knew coming into Drake I wanted to rush professionally, but as I became friends with people in Greek life, that’s when I decided I wanted to rush socially, too,” Hilton said.

Hilton’s Greek brother, senior Sam Hellwege, also decided to pledge AKPsi and SigEp.

“I rushed both fraternities in the spring semester of my first year. I was waiting to see how I would balance academics, so I rushed Sig Ep and Alpha Kappa Psi after my first semester,” Hellwege said. “I knew a lot of the AKPsis, and I knew that I would get to know more people. I enjoy the values of both fraternities and joining them would help me to get out of my comfort zone.”

Professional fraternities are different than social Greek organizations because professional Greek life allows both men and women into the same community. Hellwege and Hilton both agree that having both men and women doesn’t make a difference with the fraternal “brotherhood.”

“It’s not that different with men and women, it helps to make the organization more professional,” Hilton said.

In social Greek life, fraternities and sororities are separated by gender as well as different governing bodies. The Panhellenic Council governs women’s sororities while the Interfraternity Council governs men’s fraternities. Sophomore Angel Gentchev is the president of IFC.

“I think that contrary to popular belief social fraternities actually take part in professional activities as well. We do network with brothers for internships and jobs, and do conferences to better our resumes. We emphasize grades as well,” Gentchev said.  “In my opinion, professional fraternities are a four-year resume building committee, but a social fraternity is more about developing one’s self and character. Professional fraternities are about being more employable.”

Sometimes, Greek organizations on campus are a complete mixture of social and professional. Phi Delta Epsilon (PhiDE), a medical fraternity on campus, is not a part of the Interfraternity Council, but is nationally known as a social fraternity. Drake recognizes the fraternity as a professional organization.

“The thing about the PhiDE is that it’s very unique to Drake. In outward appearance PhiDE is professional, but it is technically a social fraternity, but Drake would characterize it as professional,” junior Peyton Faganel, PhiDE president said. “The reason we are professional is that the things we do are all meant to make someone more appealing in the future. The medical field is very competitive, and that is our focus. The pre-medical chapters are designed to get you to medical school.”

Professional and social fraternities tend to have more in common than less.

“Obviously in both fraternities there are ‘no hazing’ rules and they are stringent on alcohol policies. There is no dirty rushing, but the difference is that AKPsi is only open to business majors, and in SigEp anyone can go through rush. SigEp’s required GPA is 2.9 to stay in the organization, but AKPsi’s required GPA is 2.5,” Hellwege said.

Gentchev agreed the two options for pursuing Greek life are similar, but recognizes that social Greek life has less leeway than professional Greek life.

“There’s a very big double standard between social and professional fraternities. I know we are held to a much higher standard because we do have an actual governing body of social Greek life,” Gentchev said. “While on the surface it may seem as if there isn’t a social aspect to professional fraternities but there is, which might get swept under the rug. There is a big social side to professional fraternities just as there is a big professional side to social fraternities and sororities.”

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