Don't Judge All Greek Life By The Mistakes Of A Few Greek Organizations

Don't Judge All Greek Life By The Mistakes Of A Few Greek Organizations

There are so many great things about Greek life that the media neglects.

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It feels like there's always something about Greek organizations in the headlines, whether it be about hazing, some organization getting kicked off, or some crazy party where someone jumped off a balcony and broke their leg.

However, there are never any headlines about all the positive aspects of Greek life. There are so many great things that are never talked about: the philanthropic aspects, the bonds that are made, the connections that can be achieved through alumni networks, etc. There are SO many positive takeaways from Greek life that never get discussed.

First of all, the bonds you make with your brothers or sisters is a HUGE part of Greek life. I've met some of my best friends through Greek life, and it makes you feel more connected on your college campus. I love my sorority because it's a good balance between social and academic, and there's always a sister willing to help you out. Everyone brings a diverse set of characteristics, experiences, and skills, and while not everyone will be best friends, everyone is willing to help you out and be there for you if they're able.

Additionally, there are so many great connections that can be made through Greek life. I've met the national president of my organization, and that's not something everyone can say. There's also a huge alumni network from people who were previously active in a sorority or fraternity on campus, and it's a talking point in interviews if your interviewer was also in Greek life.

Greek life is also great because you can meet all different types of people. By interacting with different sororities and fraternities, it's a great way to improve your interpersonal communication skills, and you never know who you may meet that could become a best friend. It also prepares you to talk to employers at networking receptions and other similar events because you're used to talking to people your own age, and while the context may be different, you're comfortable with talking to people you don't know.

Greek organizations raise millions of dollars annually for all kinds of different organizations: Autism Speaks, St. Jude's Hospital, Children's Miracle Network, etc. There's so much good that comes out of fundraising, and it's fun to volunteer for something bigger than yourself with your sorority or fraternity.

While some organizations do make mistakes, and these events are normally what we hear about, the mistakes of one organization shouldn't reflect badly on ALL members in that organization or all Greek life. There should definitely be a shift of priorities, but overall, most Greek organizations are fantastic and do a lot of good on campuses nationwide.

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Greek Life Does More Harm Than Good And It's Time We Canceled It

Greek Life is considered an almost essential part of campus culture, but do we really need Greek life?
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If you are a college student in the United States, you will be affected in some way by Greek life.

It doesn't matter whether you want to join or not. When you go to school, you will hear about it all the time. You will hear about which frats throw the best parties, be asked which sorority you are rushing, and see them hosting charity events. And of course, you will hear the criticisms.

It is impossible these days to not hear about the criticisms surrounding Greek life, the most common one being the high rates of sexual assault. There are also the criticisms that it promotes binge-drinking and partying, it fuels nepotism, the hazing, and there have been numerous racist incidents involving fraternities.

If you ask anybody in Greek life though, they will usually tell you these criticisms are overblown. Yes, occasionally there might be some racist jokes. Yes, sometimes a sexual assault might occur, but they will assure you that these are just a few bad apples. Then they will wax poetic about the various benefits of Greek life, how it fosters lifetime friendships, instills good values such as serving the community, and grooms young adults for professional life.

But there is another question you should ask. Who reaps these benefits?

In a study conducted by Princeton University, researchers found that at their school 77% of fraternity members and 73% of sorority members were white, despite making up 47% of the student body. Additionally, 30% and 19% of fraternity and sorority members were legacy admits, meaning they were children of alumni. Obviously, this is only one school and not necessarily reflect the entire United States. Fraternities and sororities do not publish statistics on their demographics, so it is impossible to tell exactly how pervasive this phenomenon is. Nonetheless, it is worrisome and is surprising, considering that the first fraternities were founded by the people that have always been most privileged in our country: white, upper-class men.

You do not need an extensive, university-sponsored study to understand that it is difficult for students of lower incomes to join Greek life. Not only must you maintain a certain GPA, but you must pay monthly dues in order to stay in. These can range in cost from $250 to $775, and that is not counting “new member fees" or “badge fees" that may be added to the overall cost. Additionally, members must attend regular meetings and functions. If somebody comes from a low-income family and has to work in order to make it through college, it will be significantly harder to join Greek life.

Some organizations offer payment plans, but many potential pledges still say this is not enough. This begs the question: is Greek life really creating new leaders, or is it just fostering a culture of nepotism and providing a pathway for those born into privilege to access high-paying jobs more easily? This is not to say it is impossible for someone of lesser means to join, but it is significantly harder.

In recent years, excessive drinking and hazing-related deaths have also caused Greek life to come under fire. It is not uncommon for college students to abuse alcohol, however, members of Greek life are significantly more likely to abuse alcohol. One study by Harvard found that 4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge-drinkers in comparison to 2 out of 5 overall college students.

Another study at Brown University found that fraternities are often opposed to alcohol education and intervention because they view it as an impediment to their social and sexual goals. Again, this is not to suggest that only Greek life-affiliated students binge-drink. Many college students engage in binge-drinking while they are in school, but they are much more likely to do so if they are involved in Greek life.

These are only some of the problems associated with Greek life. There are many, many more, which I will discuss in next week's article. But for now, I want readers to sit and consider the facts they have been presented with, and ask themselves the kind of mentality that Greek life promotes through its culture of exclusion and binge-drinking.

Cover Image Credit: Stephen F. Austin State University

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I Didn't Join A Panhellenic Sorority

It's okay if you don't join a panhellenic sorority. Sometimes a different organization can turn out to be the best thing.

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Before going to college I was faced with a dilemma, should I rush? I wanted to rush just for the social aspect, I thought it would be my best shot at making a bunch of friends. However, deep down I knew that greek life really wasn't me. I didn't want to do something if I wasn't one hundred percent behind it. There was a part of me that did want to be in a sorority but the other part of me really didn't want to rush. Let me be clear, I don't think Greek life is bad, I just think it wasn't for me. I talked to my brother and sister-in-law about this because they both were in Greek life at the college I attend now; they told me that they didn't think I would like it either.

What my brother and sister-in-law told me that I might like was, a Christian sorority called Sigma Phi Lambda. When they described it to me it seemed like exactly what I was wanting. As soon as I got to college I sought them out; and I went to their recruitment nights. I loved it! It was exactly what I was looking for. I ended up joining. This sorority brought me an amazing group of friends! Most importantly, I have joined the perfect sorority for me! A few things I liked most about Sigma Phi Lambda was the people were so welcoming, it was more low key and laid back, I was still able to have a big and a "Pham", we still did lots of sorority things whilst also having activities that strengthened us on our walks with the Lord, and I gained so many sisters that I now have strong relationships with. Sigma Phi Lambda gave me so many friends and something to be involved in on campus. They gave me somewhere to belong and I am so glad I chose to join them.

Rushing may be exactly what you need when you go to college, but if it's not that is okay. Just join something that makes you happy. Join an organization that helps you grow and surrounds you with people that you want to be around. I promise when you get to college that there is an organization for just about everything, find the one that fits you. No matter what you choose I promise it's good. Just make sure you choose what is right for you.

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