The Problems with Greek Life

We are coming off a hard year for sororities and fraternities in the news, but that hasn’t seemed to stop students at the College from taking the pledge (if they’re offered one, of course).

Numerous articles and videos showing a darker side to fraternities and sororities have recently been surfacing, and while they have caused a stir within the general collegiate population, it doesn’t seem like the point is fully getting across. Let us explore. A 2007 study (actually, the third to show similar results) reported that fraternity members are 300 percent more likely to commit rape than those not involved in Greek life. Indeed, a Harvard School of Public Health study indicated a link between living in a sorority house and a three times higher chance of being a victim of rape.

At the risk of totally offending the substantial portion of students who participate in Greek life, I will say that the organizations are the epitome of exclusivity at any university. For one, the rushing and pledging processes include weeding out those who don’t fit into the established group for superficial reasons. And it’s difficult to escape the  fact that fraternities were started by a group of white guys – what good ever came from an origin like that, I silently wonder. Still worse, many fraternities and sororities have been known to literally segregate themselves by, among other socially constructed categories, race.

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Fraternities and sororities are frequently segregated along skin-deep lines, like race.

When people begin to discuss the idea of rushing, there is always that one guy or gal who pulls out the “So…you’re paying for friends?” card. And it is true that students have to drop thousands of dollars to be a part of the club. This is a fee that not only includes recruitment and semesterly fees, but also formal clothes and shoes, alcohol, and housing costs. On top of the already ludicrous university fees (did you know that you’re charged for science labs?), I can’t seem to understand why one might accept or even opt for more.

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Media portrayals often depict the pledging and partying of Greek life as essential to the college experience.

I do get why students might want to be a part of an exclusive club, though. Leaving home for another country, state or city can be admittedly daunting, and pledging might seem like an ‘in’ to the fun-filled experience depicted on millions of college brochures. However, I also think that experiencing some persistent level of awkwardness is a beneficial part of growing up.

I’m not trying to say that everyone involved in Greek life is a spoiled, rich, criminal, or even that every fraternity or sorority is involved in practices such as these – that would be ridiculous. But a house filled with “chosen” college-aged, hormone-filled, alcohol-fueled, young people is usually not a great idea.

Granted, there are solid advantages to both participating in Greek life and to having Greek life on campus. They can provide a support system for those students needing it, either academically or personally, they are often cited as the most important experience in participants lives, they contribute millions of dollars and hours to community causes and there are many networking opportunities. All of this is undeniably good. But we have to ask if it’s worth accepting the other baggage that comes along with it.

Greek life can serve to perpetuate pre-existing tensions within the community and has put many into dangerous, and even deadly, situations. Sororities and Fraternities describe themselves as family – but family exists outside the frat house too.

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'The Problems with Greek Life' have 2 comments

  1. November 27, 2015 @ 1:16 am John

    Frankly, this is an ignorant argument built primarily on the ethos side of persuasion. You also rely heavily on the slippery slope method when forming your claims. If you knew anything about fraternities and sororities you would know that a couple of your arguments are desperate dung flinging attempts. Paying for fraternities and sororities isn’t “paying for friends” it’s paying for a place to live. Just like any community living arrangement (like dorms) you need to pay for things like rent, utilities, and food. Also much of Greek life doesn’t have a “skin deep exclusivity” policy on selecting members like you imply. They have sets of ideals that set out a framework for being a good individual, not “hot or not” guide lines for bidding. The pledge process isn’t about superficially weeding out the kids you don’t think are cool it’s about weeding out those you don’t think are good, moral people; and as far as the stigma that surrounds the rigor of the pledge process, there are no free rides in life. If you want something you should have to work for it, greek live doesn’t want people that are involved just to party and get girls, they need to be interested in doing the positive aspects of Greek life. like philanthropy too. No one is entitled to anything other than a basic level of respect and the basic rights all men and women share. As far as the ever so subtle hint at racism you left, you know what was also founded by a group of white people? The United States and many European countries that existed in a time where they were primary dominated by a white population. So is the U.S. An awful establishment because of this? No, history is unavoidable, and seeing as most fraternities and sororities were founded more than a hundred years ago, it’s not that “outrageous” that they were established by white men and women, the population that unfortunately dominated universities at that time. So please, next time you want to write an article do your research and write like a professional.

    Reply

    • December 6, 2015 @ 10:32 pm Kye Toscano

      I’m so sorry that you took such a strong dislike to my article! I would like to start out by saying that you’re correct in saying I’ve clearly never been involved in the Greek system. I do, however, believe that there are a few structural problems with it that anyone could see — some of which have led to some very grave outcomes. For your first point about “paying for friends,” I do think that the payments involved go further than simply paying for a place to live. Plus, as I understand it, not everyone lives in the given house, correct? Also, I’m so sure that you’re correct in saying that the pledge process isn’t supposed to be about “superficially weeding out the kids you don’t think are cool,” but I think that it sometimes goes awry. To me, the problem exists at the source: allowing college students to pick who fits best in a group of people often has to do with superficial reasons, no? I don’t think anyone is necessarily setting out for that to happen, but it does all the same. The U.S. is certainly not entirely bad! I did not mean to leave a “ever so subtle hint at racism,” I actually meant it to be fairly blatant, so I’m sorry if it didn’t come off that way! Here’s an article with a bunch of examples you might be interested in: http://college.usatoday.com/2015/11/11/racist-incidents-raise-questions-about-sae-culture/

      I don’t mean for my analysis of Greek life to come off as “all frats/sororities are evil,” or anything along those lines. I definitely do see many merits with Greek life. But I also see many drawbacks, some very serious. The statistics I included were not there by an accident — here is the study I got them from if you’re so inclined to read it: http://archive.sph.harvard.edu/cas/Documents/rapeintox-pressRelease/
      Thank you for the response and I hope this cleared some a few things up!

      Reply


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