The North-American Interfraternity Conference, or NIC as many fraternity members know it, began a movement to expand the knowledge regarding fraternity involvement and its impact in undergraduate members. They devised the University Learning Outcomes Assessment (UniLOA) an assessment that would measure the learning and growth of fraternity members during their undergraduate careers. This assessment would also help in cementing the arguments that many fraternity life advocates use when encouraging young men to seek membership or when fighting misinformation and stereotypes associated with fraternity and sorority life.
Respondents were asked to self report behaviors in seven key areas: critical thinking, self awareness, communication, diversity, citizenship, membership and leadership, and relationships. In summer of 2009, Dr. Mark Frederick of the Center for Measuring College Behaviors at Indiana State University contacted the NIC wanting to discuss the data that had been collected through UniLOA. Upon further analysis of the data, the NIC and Dr Frederick were able to find trends suggesting a clear and positive impact on fraternity members relative to their time as members of their organizations.
The UniLOA assisted the NIC in creating The Case for Fraternity Rights a compilation of their findings which highlights the growth and impact that is observable once a college male decides to seek membership. Upon reviewing their data, the UniLOA concluded that fraternity members experience personal growth more rapidly than do non-fraternity men. This means that fraternity men experience a spike in personal development from the moment they join and that builds from there throughout the rest of their undergraduate career.
This finding is particularly important because it is empirical in nature and can be used as an argument against deferred recruitment, a tactic which allows institutions of higher learning to block students from joining fraternities and sororities in their early days as undergraduates. This act will definitely pose a problem for the first finding, limiting the growth and impact that the fraternity has on a potential member.
One finding that was resonated with the researchers was one which stated that fraternity life builds better leaders and more active citizens. This meaning that fraternity men are far more actively engaged in their civic responsibilities and duties and are more likely to be leaders in their communities and at their places of employment than are non-fraternity men.
The fraternity experience has been under a magnifying glass in the modern era due to the negative stereotypes and negative media coverage regarding hazing allegations. The NIC’s UniLOA, however, has reaffirmed the far more positive impact that fraternity life has on its members. The NIC’s UniLOA and its empirical evidence may help change the minds of many men who are on the fence of seeking membership in a fraternity and may be the first step in changing the skewed and negative stigma that comes along with being a member of a fraternal organization.