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Imagine a fraternity completely independent of a national organization. The hypothetical fraternity has no other chapters at any other school. No national board overseeing it. And no ties with the university Greek council.
These types of fraternities do exist, and with the increasing pressure on national and local councils to crack down on even the slightest whiff of alcohol, hazing, or inappropriate signs (surprisingly, this would probably be the third most common offense these days), many fraternities – either by choice or by getting the boot from mainstream Greek life – have opted to cut ties and go their own way.
One fraternity to pull off such a feat is the Gazoni Family. When these Lambda Chis got their charter yanked by nationals, they didn’t try to continue quietly under their given letters like most fraternities to get the axe do. Instead, they declared their independence from the rest of Greek life. The Gazoni Family has been going strong ever since, doing almost everything a nationally recognized chapter would do: rush events, functions, house parties, philanthropy, and chapter meetings.
There are some differences, however. The Gazoni Family boasts that they operate under “No Rules” and that they are “Governed by United States Law, Not UCF’s Circus Court.” Talking smack about the school without repercussion is one benefit of taking a fraternity underground, but even better, The Gazoni Family garnered national attention for throwing some of the rowdiest rush parties out there – an impossibility for regular fraternities forced to abide by the “dry rush” code.
Another fraternity to go rogue this year was SAE at the University of Michigan. When nationals stripped their charter, the brothers rebranded themselves as The Flying Eagles, a move that allowed them to continue a sacred campus tradition known as the Mud Bowl.
After reading all that, it may sound appealing to call your chapter advisor right now, tell him to eat a bag of dicks, and set out with your brothers as an independent organization. But hold the phone. Let’s be rational for a moment and weigh the pros and cons first.
Pro: It sounds fucking badass
“Going rogue” has a pretty sweet ring to it. You’re like the renegades. The outlaws operating on the fringes of society. It’s got a wild, wild west feel to it that is extremely enticing. Plus, you and your boys can make up a badass name for yourselves. Like “The Sons of Liberty” or “The Guardians of Rage” or “The Jabronestars.”
Con: Sorority relations may be difficult
Most sororities will not hold events with you unless you are officially recognized by the school. That’s not to say sorority girls won’t come to your events. You just probably won’t be able to pull off a massive party or event that involves the majority of the sisters, complete with t-shirts. This doesn’t just include parties and functions. There’s daytime charity events, like Delta Zeta’s Turtle Tug (a giant tug-of-war tournament), that you won’t be allowed to participate in, as well as Greek Week-type stuff like dance competitions that pair you with a sorority (which sounds lame until you do it and realize it’s one of the best ways to meet girls imaginable).
Pro: No money to nationals means more money for booze
Every semester, nationals sucks thousands of dollars out of your budget. A study conducted by me just now in my head says that most fraternities would save an average of 15 fully-stocked house parties without the extra dues.
Con: Less connections
When you share the same letters as someone, even if they went to college on the other side of the country, you have an instant connection with that person. If you have a job interview, and you and some other shmuck are equally qualified, but it came up during the interview that you and boss man wore the same letters in college, consider yourself hired. Of course, you’ll still have an in with your chapter, who are the most likely to hook you up after graduation anyway.
Pro: No bullshit from the Greek council or nationals
Dry rush enforcement and hazing allegations and all that other garbage superiors hold over your heads like a guillotine would be a thing of the past. In fact, bullshit from the Greek council or nationals is probably the reason you’re starting an independent fraternity in the first place.
Con: No spot in formal rush
Many schools have a formal rush where rushees are required to walk from house to house in the village (fraternities without mansions – or evicted from one like mine was, post up under tents beside the village). This is ideal exposure for your fraternity, and where most potential new members are picked up. Hundreds of guys will pass through (depending on predominance of Greek life at your school). Shake their hand, make some small talk about sports, and invite them to the party later that night. If you’re independent of the rest of Greek life, you probably won’t be allowed to participate in formal rush. However, you can still set up shop outside the dining hall or somewhere else on campus – but that’s assuming the university recognizes you as an organization at all. But no matter what, you’ll always have social media.
It is important to note that all of these pros and cons vary from school to school. Some sororities may be more inclusive of non-official fraternities, some campuses may be less strict about drinking during rush, and some national organizations actually give their chapters money instead of taking it. But this guide is a baseline. For most of you, I’d say hold off on telling nationals to fuck off. Try to make it work, but if you get shut down, remember that the bond between you is more important than the letters you wear, and keep the brotherhood alive by going rogue..