Fraternities and sororities had become synonymous with the American college campuses since Phi Beta Kappa was founded at William and Mary College in Virginia in 1776. Phi Beta Kappa was the Greek motto for "Love of wisdom, guide of life." The Greek-letter name fraternity was thought to have originated from the Flat Hat Society which was founded in 1750 and which was a secret society. The typical characteristics of the most present fraternities were oath of secrecy, a badge or key, mottos in Greek, an initiation, a ritual, grip and a handshake. It was understood a fraternity or sorority (a women's fraternity or secret sisterhood such as Pi Beta Phi founded in 1867) was a group of men or women formed by a brotherhood or sisterhood and common goals and aspirations who made lifelong commitment.
Back in 1995, one fraternity member wrote to The Daily Gazette, "As a member of a fraternity while I attended college, I can say that being in a fraternity has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life….When you are part of a brotherhood or sisterhood, you must learn how to trust, to be loyal and to cooperate with others. You learn to deal one-on-one with people as well as how to be part of a team. These lessons are important to young men and women after graduation because they will need to know how to use them when they enter the workforce. Additionally, trust, loyalty and cooperation are important attributes throughout life.…People tend to point out the negative aspects of Greek organizations. The truth is that college campuses without sororities and fraternities still have the problems of hazing and underage drinking. These problems are not exclusive to fraternities and sororities. Other positive aspect of college fraternities and sororities, which is seldom pointed out, is the amount of time and money they donate to charitable organizations. These Greek organizations are the No. 1 fund-raisers for various charities among college student organizations across (the United States). I can attest to this because I served as our fraternity's philanthropist for 2 years." Hazing was said to have started in European universities in the Middle Ages and was first introduced to American campuses in 1700 at Harvard.
In 1985 one member of Phi Delta Theta told the press, "What we fight here is the bad image, the 'Animal House' image. There's no doubt we have a good time, but we do a lot of philanthropy as well." Another added, "'Animal House' destroyed us." One member of a fraternity council stated, "Sororities aren't all uppity. It's not 'how much does your father make?' If the girl is genuinely interested and wants to put something into it, she'll get in. I think people are changing. The 'me decade' is over and people seem to want to work as a group. When you join a sorority or a fraternity, you're associated with a group and I think that's what people are looking for…It rounds off your education. It's an important time to grow and you should be able to grow in every possible way: socially and academically."