American student communities: film and reality
“American pie”, “Project X: Dorval”, “21 and more” – all names of comedies about modern American youth and their student life. The way American teenagers lined up in front of the viewer of such paintings, specific and stereotypical: the student community, parties, lots of alcohol. Graduate students of the universities of Chicago, Illinois and Virginia spoke about the types and internal structure of the student community of America, as well as how close to reality screen images.
Types and structure
Formally, all American student communities can be divided according to their functionality and degree of dependence on the University itself. Thus, most often they are represented by sisterhoods and brotherhoods, professional communities, sports clubs, student councils, cultural organizations, magazines, Newspapers and charitable organizations. They can also be Autonomous or accountable to the University.
Traditional for America are organizations that are divided by gender and gender and are called, respectively, “Sisterhood” and “brotherhood”. Both types of communities are Autonomous, independent of the University, although located on its territory, managed and funded by the students themselves. The current members of the fraternities and sisterhoods do not care about the professional skills of the potential participant, his / her work experience, or his / her resume. The main attention is paid to the appearance of the candidate, his ability to present himself, as well as financial opportunities to make timely payment of membership fees. Entrance procedures and internal regulation of communities differ.
In order to join the Sisterhood, the girls come to the campus a few weeks before their studies and attend special courses where they are explained how to look to please the chairmen of the Sisterhood they are interested in, as well as teach behavior and manner of speech. The process of joining the Sisterhood is divided into several stages – in English “rushes”. The first stage – “open house” – is to move potential participants to the homes of various sisterhoods for the passage of the so-called “interview”. Usually girls are asked to tell about themselves, to justify their choice of community. A very important point in this interview is information about relatives who were in this Sisterhood in their student years. If such are available, the candidate is much more likely to go to the next round.
“Current members of brotherhoods and sisterhoods do not care about the professional skills of a potential participant, his work experience, or his resume. The main attention is paid to the appearance of the candidate, his ability to present himself, as well as financial opportunities to make timely payment of membership fees»
After a lot of equally dressed young girls go around all the houses, they have to make their choice or, in English, “beat”. At the same time, makes a selection and the Sisterhood, and in the case that the preferences of both parties coincide, the girl enters the next stage.
The second round consists of a process resembling matchmaking or a beauty contest. The candidate is invited to the selected sisterhoods, where she is told more about the goals and objectives of the community (usually associated with charity and organization of events). Both sides look at each other, get acquainted more closely and then make the final choice. It is announced at the official magnificent ball. However, admission to the Sisterhood does not always mean participation in it, not everyone can afford it. Membership in the community costs each of the girls about $ 1200 annually. This includes paying community taxes, recruiting, keeping a home with a personal chef, and of course participating in almost daily parties.
The first two or three months the girl passes the initiation, helping the community is particularly active. Her assistant and mentor is appointed by one of the older sisters, the so-called “big sisters”, selected specifically on the principle of similarity of characters with the candidate.
The male community
As for the brotherhoods, their functions and tasks absolutely coincide with the sisterhoods. The only difference is the process of joining these organizations – it is accompanied by the so-called “hazing”. In order to get a pass to the brotherhood, you need to go through a lot of humiliating tests organized by senior students, ranging from doing homework for the rest of the members, ending with all sorts of immoral acts.
The main task of the student community is to unite students, because the campus of an ordinary American University is home to about 15,000 young people. A support system based on participation in parties and entertainment events is being formed. Even in the middle and end of the last century, the attitude towards people who became members of brotherhoods or sisterhoods changed only in a positive way: it was a pride to communicate with such a person, to be friends, to spend time. In the current situation, every student who attempts to get into this kind of community does it not for the sake of changing their status in the eyes of fellow students, but for the sake of, for example, a line in the resume. This is primarily because universal equality for American youth and society as a whole is now one of the primary values.
“In order to get a pass to the brotherhood, you need to go through a lot of humiliating tests organized by senior students, ranging from doing homework for the rest of the members, ending with all sorts of immoral acts»
Fraternities and sisterhoods exist independently of universities, which do not interfere in the internal Affairs of communities before situations arise related to the crime of the law. But there are also University-controlled organizations or so-called RSO – “recognized student organizations”.
RSO – professional organizations, for entry into which the student is interviewed, presents a resume, demonstrates his professional competence. If a student becomes a member of such a community, he gets access to professional seminars, as well as a chance to improve his skills, meet with sponsors and employers. A similar process is waiting for those who expect to get into the student Council, which performs the function of administration and organization of the educational process at the level of student initiatives. To join the sports section must have the qualifications and experience. There are also communities in which you can join by making a fixed amount or even for free, without having any professional skills, but having the desire to get them.
As for the internal organization of such communities, almost all of them have a single, two-stage: there is a leadership team (President, Vice President, their assistants) or “exec boards” and the rest of the participants. “Exec boards” are selected among the members of the community once a year by voting.
“Every student who attempts to get into this kind of community does it not for the sake of changing their status in the eyes of fellow students, but for the sake of, for example, a line in the resume»
In General, participation in any University organization is not necessary, but it, firstly, directly affects self-identification, and secondly, contributes to the development of professional skills, as well as broadens the horizons of students and fills their leisure time.
The system of American student organizations follows many modern trends typical for this country. The popularity and number of sisterhoods and brotherhoods varies from University to University, but communities usually have no shortage of participants. The same can be said about other organizations, which are closer in structure to modern Russian optional communities.
The embellished reality of cinema, of course, does not allow us to fully understand the life of us students. But behind the often grotesque images are real events that are characteristic of the University traditions of America.