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VictoriaGermany 09-08-2007 04:47 PM

Comparison of American and German fraternities/sororities
 
Hi guys,

I am founding member of a new sorority in Germany (founded last year) and I am looking for members of fraternities and sororities in America who would like to discuss about differences and similarities between American and German sororities/fraternities.

If you are interested, please send me a PM.

Thanks!

AKA_Monet 09-08-2007 05:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VictoriaGermany (Post 1515509)
Hi guys,

I am founding member of a new sorority in Germany (founded last year) and I am looking for members of fraternities and sororities in America who would like to discuss about differences and similarities between American and German sororities/fraternities.

If you are interested, please send me a PM or add me on ICQ: 276-889-578 (tuigirl).

Thanks!

Personally, I don't know anything about German Sororities and Fraternities. Can you give us some links to educate ourselves regarding the histories of these organizations?

Most American fraternities and sororities are Greek lettered and associated with a college or university, with the exception of the Shriners, Masons, DAR's, etc--even there are fraternities in military service. There are variations there in.

Are you asking about American "Secret Societies"? The easiest place is Wikipedia to get information rapidly.

VictoriaGermany 09-08-2007 06:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515515)
Can you give us some links to educate ourselves regarding the histories of these organizations?

Just wrote a long reply but unfortunately my browser collapsed. Okay, I try to give some short facts:

The first fraternities were founded 200 years ago. The first sorority in 1899. Sororities and fraternities were forbidden in the 2. World War. After the war some fraternities reopened.
The first "new" sorority was founded in 1976. Today we have about 30 sororities in Germany, half of them were founded after year 2000.

German fraternities are usually named after geographical areas or rivers, e.g. Danubia, Slesvico-Holsatia, Germania, Palatia....

German sororities are mainly named after Greek or Roman goddesses (e.g. Athenia, Athena, Victoria, Selenia) or strong women.

Freshman are not treated in the way you do in America. We are happy to have new members and as there are a lot of stereotypes about fraternities and sororities, it is not easy to get new members.

The traditions of the German fraternities/sororities are mainly based in Germans history. For example: Some fraternities practise the academic fencing which has nothing to do with the fencing you know as sports.

We also have a specific kind of celebration called "Kneipe" where we sing traditional student songs, we hear speeches and we drink a lot of alcohol.

LPIDelta 09-08-2007 07:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VictoriaGermany (Post 1515543)
Freshman are not treated in the way you do in America. We are happy to have new members and as there are a lot of stereotypes about fraternities and sororities, it is not easy to get new members.

I had no idea there were such groups in Germany...do you actually call them fraternities and sororities?

Also, as quoted above, you should be careful about generalizations. Not all organizations haze or treat their new members poorly.

AKA_Monet 09-08-2007 08:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VictoriaGermany (Post 1515543)
Just wrote a long reply but unfortunately my browser collapsed. Okay, I try to give some short facts:

The first fraternities were founded 200 years ago. The first sorority in 1899. Sororities and fraternities were forbidden in the 2. World War. After the war some fraternities reopened.
The first "new" sorority was founded in 1976. Today we have about 30 sororities in Germany, half of them were founded after year 2000.

German fraternities are usually named after geographical areas or rivers, e.g. Danubia, Slesvico-Holsatia, Germania, Palatia....

German sororities are mainly named after Greek or Roman goddesses (e.g. Athenia, Athena, Victoria, Selenia) or strong women.

Freshman are not treated in the way you do in America. We are happy to have new members and as there are a lot of stereotypes about fraternities and sororities, it is not easy to get new members.

The traditions of the German fraternities/sororities are mainly based in Germans history. For example: Some fraternities practise the academic fencing which has nothing to do with the fencing you know as sports.

We also have a specific kind of celebration called "Kneipe" where we sing traditional student songs, we hear speeches and we drink a lot of alcohol.

Thanks for your wonderful history lesson. You or someone in your organizations should write a brief ezine, or book about it. Seriously!

It sounds like it is a Germanic heritage and cultural expression mechanism for Fraternities and Sororities.

SOME American fraternities and sororities that are closely associated with colleges and universities are based on various heritages and cultures. While there are some "stereotypes" that American fraternities and sororities have as "American historical pursuits and traditions" that we all get labeled as having, such as those seen "Animal House", "ABC GREEK" and "Stomp the Yard"; all are about doing wonderful things for individual members and the community.

I think the issue here is in the United States: allegedly, we do have the "right to free association" as a Constitutional Bill of Right for all citizens... As I understand it, the E.U. has confirmed those rights as covenants and then added more.

I think several entities after the WWII did not want the German citizens to EVER form any groups of change among the "educated" again. Although, at some level it is unfair, in others, I can see why folks are concerned.

In the US, although the government legally cannot control who people associated with, they do require registration of large sums of money to be justified by a IRS federal taxes, such as 501c7 and 501c3 codes. And if one does not want their information, such as design of any insignia stolen, they must incorporate it through the Federal IRS and State Tax system. If events occur that block free access to locations, groups will get arrested for that without appropriate permits.

As far a dress, folks can wear whatever they want to, as long as it is not indecent exposure for the given weather climate and location. Although in the 1990's somewhere in the Northern California there was the "naked man"... And we also have the "homeless" bums that wear whatever...

I think that in Germany, no one can EVER wear items reflecting WWII replicates... I could be wrong. Ironically, some folks in the US try wearing all the stuff here. They can be arrested, but more likely, they will be beat up... Or folks will have huge anger issue with that occurring.

Most groups have potential new members (PMN) or candidates for Membership Intake Processes (MIP). I believe Ariesrising runs the "Greekpages" site that explains the variations of each group.

PMNs generally are recruited and are freshman upon initiation. MIP candidates select their organization and pursue membership independently, rarely some are freshman upon initiation.

Hazing is illegal in most states with jail time. People should never do it. I do not condone it. But the actions of few ruin it for all.

Did you want to have this discussion "top side"? Because it is helping me observing it from another country's POV. Also, there is a graduate (alumnae) chapter of my sorority in Frankfurt, Germany near the US Military Base.

kathykd2005 09-08-2007 08:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VictoriaGermany (Post 1515543)
We also have a specific kind of celebration called "Kneipe" where we sing traditional student songs, we hear speeches and we drink a lot of alcohol.

Not to be rude, but this just made me giggle. Sometimes we do that, too (only every now and then, though :) ).

carnation 09-08-2007 08:47 PM

Singen Sie ”Die Lorelei”? Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten....:)

Do your sororities have symbols, colors, and flowers? Do they allow all who want to join to do so or do they have selective membership? You could find out more about us by going to this link: www.npcwomen.org or you could look on the websites of various universities.

ladygreek 09-09-2007 12:14 AM

VictoriaGermany,
Like AKA Monet's my sorority also has a chapter based in Frankfurt. And I have a German half-brother (same Dad) who lives in Homberg. Thus I have a keen interest in all things German. Please keep the dialogue going.

Leslie Anne 09-09-2007 01:33 AM

Great post, AKA_Monet!

I hope the OP will continue the discussion in the thread. I've heard a tiny bit about fraternities and sororities in Germany but I'd love to learn more.

CutiePie2000 09-09-2007 01:58 AM

My grandfather was actually in a Latvian "fraternity" (they're referred to as "Student Corporations" in Europe) called Ventonia.

When I was in Heidelberg, I got a tour of the German "fraternity house" of Burschenschaft Vineta.

Kevin 09-09-2007 02:33 AM

I hear they have fraternities and sororities in the Philippines.

VictoriaGermany 09-09-2007 04:02 AM

Wow, so many replies over night :) I never imagined you all would be so interested in German fraternities/sororities. Okay, here we go with further information :D

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
Thanks for your wonderful history lesson. You or someone in your organizations should write a brief ezine, or book about it. Seriously!

I am quite sure there are a lot of books about this topic. I will try to find out if some are available in English ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
It sounds like it is a Germanic heritage and cultural expression mechanism for Fraternities and Sororities.

SOME American fraternities and sororities that are closely associated with colleges and universities are based on various heritages and cultures. While there are some "stereotypes" that American fraternities and sororities have as "American historical pursuits and traditions" that we all get labeled as having, such as those seen "Animal House", "ABC GREEK" and "Stomp the Yard"; all are about doing wonderful things for individual members and the community.

Well, I am quite sure that the historical roots of the American fraternity/sorority system comes from Europe. But it is obvious that both models (the European and the American) developed completely different.
There are huge stereotypes about German fraternities and sororities as well: Forcing members to drink alcohol, being nazis etc.. Of course there are some members of fraternities who are politically incorrect and unfortunately their behaviour in public gives all of us a bad reputation. As our fraternity have a longer history than the sororities, different types of fraternities do exist:

The "Corps" are the oldest type of fraternity (some are over 200 years old). Academic fencing (they use sharp weapons and yes, you can get hurt) is an obligation for their members and one major principle is "tolerance". Therefore they do accept Non-German members as well.

The "Landsmannschaften" were historically groups of man from the same geographic area/region. Their members as well have to practise academic fencing.

The "Burschenschaften" are politically oriented. The developed in the first half of the 19th century and were fighting for a free nation. They were strongly involved in the "Wartburgfest" and the "Hambacher Fest". Sorry, I need to fresh up my history knowledge before I can go in detail.
Today, the "Burschenschaften" are more conservative and unfortunately some are very "German oriented". Yes, I guess some of them are nazis... Unfortunately these people give all fraternities/sororities a bad reputation.

The "Turnerschaften" were impressed by "Turnvater Jahn" and therefore do a lot of sports. They also practise the academic fencing, but not in every "Turnerschaft" it is an obligation.

The last major type of fraternities are the religious (mainly catholic) oriented fraternities. They refuse any kind of duel and therefore do not practise academic fencing.

By the way: All sororities in Germany are non-politically oriented, non-religious and they do not practise academic fencing.

I once read a newspaper article written by an American student in Germany who wrote about the tradition of academic fencing. I will try to find it and put the link in here ;)

VictoriaGermany 09-09-2007 04:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
I think the issue here is in the United States: allegedly, we do have the "right to free association" as a Constitutional Bill of Right for all citizens... As I understand it, the E.U. has confirmed those rights as covenants and then added more.

*lol* Sure, we do have this right as well.

But there are rumours (and in one case proofs) that some fraternities (I guess only "Burschenschaften") are watched by the federal office for the protection of the constitution.
Danubia Munich has been watched by this authority after they allowed a friend to stay at their house without knowing that he had just murdered someone.

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
I think several entities after the WWII did not want the German citizens to EVER form any groups of change among the "educated" again.

Thatīs right. The other reason was that many frat brothers died in the war and not every fraternity had the chance to reopen.

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
In the US, although the government legally cannot control who people associated with, they do require registration of large sums of money to be justified by a IRS federal taxes, such as 501c7 and 501c3 codes. And if one does not want their information, such as design of any insignia stolen, they must incorporate it through the Federal IRS and State Tax system. If events occur that block free access to locations, groups will get arrested for that without appropriate permits.

Fraternities or sororities do not have to register in Germany. Some register as a club to have a better controll on their money, but there is no control by the government.
The last sentence, we do have that as well ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
As far a dress, folks can wear whatever they want to, as long as it is not indecent exposure for the given weather climate and location. Although in the 1990's somewhere in the Northern California there was the "naked man"... And we also have the "homeless" bums that wear whatever...

Could you please explain the naked man and the homeless thing? I am not sure if I understood.

In German fraternities and sororities you are in general free to wear what you want. But for some occasions it is binding to wear a suit (or similar for the ladies). Besides this, most fraternities/sororities do wear a ribbon with their colours from the right shoulder to the left hip. Full members wear a ribbon with all three colours, new members usually have a ribbon with only 2 colours.
We also wear caps (e.g. http://www.maeser-couleur.de/bilder/klein_12_1.jpg) and a so-called "Zipfelbund" (http://www.wingolf.org/rostock/couleur/zipfel.jpg). By the way, it is a very nice tradition to exchange/dedicade a "Zipfel" to a good friend or someone you were fencing with.

VictoriaGermany 09-09-2007 04:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AKA_Monet (Post 1515587)
I think that in Germany, no one can EVER wear items reflecting WWII replicates... I could be wrong. Ironically, some folks in the US try wearing all the stuff here. They can be arrested, but more likely, they will be beat up... Or folks will have huge anger issue with that occurring.

Yeah, some items are forbidden. I donīt know if any frat guys are wearing them.
As mentioned before, some stupid guys destroyed the good reputation of fraternities and sororities in Germany. Some are caused by an incorrect political opinion and some by bad behaviour after drinking too much alcohol.
Today, I depends on the city if you can wear the colours of your fraternity/sorority in public. In the main studentīs town, the student parliament is governed by the left wing who is more progessive and believing in any fraternity are only nazis. If you wear your colours in public (especially the ribbon) you will quite sure get beaten up.

VictoriaGermany 09-09-2007 04:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CutiePie2000 (Post 1515691)
My grandfather was actually in a Latvian "fraternity" (they're referred to as "Student Corporations" in Europe) called Ventonia.

Yes, there are some German-model oriented fraternities in other countries, e.g. Latvia, Chile, Japan, England, France, Belgium...

Of course in Austria and Switzerland as well, as they do have the similar system than in Germany (the sorority system in Austria is much more developed, but most corporations are religious).

Quote:

Originally Posted by CutiePie2000 (Post 1515691)
When I was in Heidelberg, I got a tour of the German "fraternity house" of Burschenschaft Vineta.

Isnīt Heidelberg beautiful? :) I love that town. I went there last summer and stayed a few days in the house of Turnerschaft Ghibellinia directly below the castle. Very impressive!

By the way: Did you hear about the tradition of "Couleurbesuch"? In Germany, fraternities and sororities (and even the unisex corporations) do visit each other to have a beer together. It is also common to visit several different houses per evening, a so-called "Couleurbummel". You get your drink for free, because you will have visitors as well. Very nice tradition... especially at the end of the month....:p


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