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The conversation I remember most distinctly from that night was with a senior who emphasized to me the importance of giving back to the community.It's a common frat PR line, but he seemed sincere.
What most outsiders think of as a frat's essential personality is really a projection of its most dominant members, and this is accomplished through intense, petty internal politics.But it's also a competition between intra-frat factions to maintain internecine cultural dominance.Frat houses are catty as hell, everyone wants a posse within the posse, and if your faction is small, there's no better way to strengthen it than by recruiting people who will be loyal, first and foremost, to you and your vision for the good frat life. Just tip my head back, drop him in my mouth, and swallow him whole.The incumbents who manage to get the most of their preferred guys into letters get to define the frat—at least for a year or two.Recruitment, which happened every fall on our campus, is first and foremost about keeping the frat alive: Shirting a lot of guys during rush is a great thing to report to the alumni who keep frats in the black, many on-campus houses have population quotas, frats run on dues, etc.
But for those who don't rush, there's another way to get in, and that is to be a goddamn independent. The easy, obvious boys are a fraternity's grassroots. This was certainly not the dumbest thing we recorded for posterity.