The Sample Group
This section introduces the 12 individuals who participated in my research via interview. It lists their position at the fraternity, the amount of people belonging to that fraternity, how we met, and other vital information. I gave each participant the opportunity to remain anonymous. As a result, readers have paid a lot of attention to their highly unusual selection of a pseudonyms, which gives great insight about the psychology of the sample group.
The sample group was selected using convenience and snowball methods. Anticipating a low rate of fraternity response, I utilized several different means to locate fraternity members who were willing to participate. I started by mailing a letter to each fraternity house president, explaining my research and requesting that fraternity members get involved. I also met with Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) representatives to let them know of my research and to ask if they could connect me with participants. Furthermore, I broadcasted on the internet to various OSU groups that appeared to host many fraternity members. Finally, I became acquainted with many participants through word-of-mouth, a mutual friend, or a chance encounter, i.e., a shared classroom, an overheard party conversation, and even by their accidental eavesdropping as I wrote my project at the university computer lab. Of these methods, most interviews were set up by either chance encounter or with IFC assistance.
The majority of participants were located in Corvallis, Oregon. Corvallis is a small agricultural college town located in the Willamette Valley of Western Oregon. The city population is 46,195 citizens. The total university enrollment was 14,161 students in 1995 and, of this, 18% are fraternity men. This research includes only a small, mostly localized fraction of the United States fraternity system. The Greek letter system is a very large institution therefore many different communities are involved. I set about understanding the larger picture by including as many different perspectives as possible. There are limits to how much generalization can be made from this small-scale study. A different sample size or geographic location might lead to different results. Nevertheless, similar fraternity patters and cultural themes might be present at fraternities across the United States.
Given the size of the United States fraternity system,. I wanted this research to include as wide of a sample as possible I opted to avoid interviewing members of the same fraternity house so that the results wouldn’t be tipped towards any one particular fraternity culture. I also struggled to incorporate non-OSU fraternity members so that geographic differences might be represented and to limit participants from coaching responses among themselves. There is a wide diversity in those who chose to participate in this study. I interview fraternity members from OSU, the University of Oregon, a Southern California university (name withheld for confidentiality), and two from the New York area. Participants also came from varied backgrounds such as race economic class and sexual orientation. Informants came from different fraternity positions, e.g., alumni, pledge coordinator, president. In addition, participants naturally differed in terms of academic major and parent occupations. In terms of age, participants ranged in age from 17 to 22, with the exception of one 28-year-old alumni member. Furthermore, participants also varied in terms of how active they were with their fraternity.
The following list of participants gives more detail about house position, size of fraternity, fraternity status, interview background, and other relevant information. The list is provided so that each participant’s response can be placed in the context of his fraternity background. Unfortunately, for reasons of confidentiality, I do not reference participants in terms of race or sexual orientation. Avoiding this narrows the scope of what can be observed and discussed. However, such actions are necessary to prevent identification of a participant in this small campus community. It is important to note that none of the names listed in full are real. Most names are pseudonyms based on humor or personal choice.
Table 1. List of Participants
Aaron (Former Kitchen Manager) — From a fraternity with 30-38 live-in members and a total membership of 70. He still lives in his fraternity after three years. Met through E-mail and interviewed at his fraternity house.
John Blutarski (Pledge Educator) — His fraternity has 30-39 live in members and 60 total members. He still lives in his fraternity. Met through the IFC and interviewed at his fraternity.
Bob (Former House Manger) — From a fraternity with 83 live-in members and 125 total members. He lives in his fraternity house and is active with the IFC. Met through IFC and interviewed on campus.
Chris (Position equivalent to Vice President) — From a Southern California fraternity with 22 live-in members and around 90 total members. He is a graduate student and the only real representative of alumni in this research. Met in a classroom and interviewed at a coffee shop.
Jack B. Dalton (Social Coordinator) — From a fraternity with up to 50 live-in members and around 100 total members. He resigned from his fraternity under hostile circumstances, however he still maintains a positive relationship with some fraternity members. Met through a mutual friend and interviewed at my house.
John Deere (Executive Vice President) — His fraternity has 50-60 in house members and 85 total members. He lives in his fraternity house. Met through the IFC and interviewed on campus.
FishKiller (Held no formal position) — From a fraternity with 30 live-in members and an uncertain amount of total membership. He is a freshman and lives in his fraternity house. Met through the IFC and interviewed on campus.
Lance (Present and former Rush Chairman) — His fraternity has 72 live-in members and over 100 total members. He lives in his fraternity house. Met through written correspondence and interviewed at his fraternity.
The Owl (A Inter-Society Council Representative) — From a New York private college fraternity with 35 in-house members and over 50 total members. He is a senior living off campus, and plays an active role in fighting a fraternity related lawsuit. Met and interviewed at an Eugene cooperative.
Hugh G. Rection (Held no formal position) — He is from New York fraternity with 30 live-in members and 65 total members. He was a senior living off campus at the time of interview. Met and interviewed at a Eugene cooperative.
White Sail (Held no formal position) — His fraternity has 82-89 in-house members and 120 total members. He lives in his fraternity house and is active with the IFC. Met through the IFC and interviewed on campus.
World is Mine (Held no formal position) — From a fraternity with 60 live-in members and 90 total members. He quit membership shortly after initiation. Met randomly and interviewed in Eugene.