I’m convinced that frats and sororities are wearing ancient symbols on hooded sweatshirts in order to make contact with alien life forms. I know that the symbols are actually Greek letters, but the imagery of alien-worshipping frat boys is too amusing so I like to pretend. To be fair, I actually believe that it isn’t much of a stretch because fraternities and cults have more than a passing resemblance.
Let’s get the obvious similarities out of the way first. Both frats and cults prey on young, lonely, and susceptible individuals by promising some form of unity. That bond is further connected by the way the members of the group communicate. They call each other “brothers” or “sisters” as if to say that everyone was part of a family. The idea that you’ll always be a part of the group is accepted and celebrated by both cults and frats.
There seems to be a need to justify the group’s unnecessary existence. For example frats will often boast about how they do community service. But you don’t need to be in a frat to do community service. Cults will say that they create lifelong friends, as if people looking for friends couldn’t simply join a book club.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if the underlying themes of these groups didn’t seem so sinister. Frats and cults are basically looking for two things: people’s time and money. You’ll always see both types of groups stressing the importance of recruiting and it wouldn’t be outlandish to believe that the main desire behind this is gain more manpower to get more of those two resources. The odd part is that it’s justified using completely emotional terms, like the aforementioned promise of a second family that will be with you for an eternity.
This desire to control the reputation of the groups is an admitted concern to both frats and cults. A lot of frats try to call themselves fraternities to distance themselves from the negative view that the public holds. They’re trying to distance themselves from the reputation that they themselves have created. A cult may call itself a religious institution, but if it still has all of the properties of a cult, then it still is a cult.
That’s the main problem, the deceptive nature of these groups. In one hand they try to like an important happy-go lucky part of the community while still embracing the traditions that gave them their negative reputations to begin with. And when they have your trust and money, they get you with the jungle juice/Kool-Aid.