This past week, Ohio State University suspended all non-essential activities for social fraternities--including social activities and recruitment--at least until January 7th. This is just a further example of a much broader trend across the country of big-name universities suspending or outright ending Greek life.
The universities involved include Florida State, Michigan, and now Ohio State. Following the much-publicized Atlantic article about the death of a pledge due to hazing, Penn State has also instituted vast reforms to their Greek life. The Boston Globe even ran an op-ed calling for the end of fraternities as a whole.
While I share many of the concerns about Greek life on college campuses, namely dangerous binge drinking, potentially harmful hazing processes, rape culture, and a dangerous lack of administrative oversight, I also know that many chapters of Greek Life are great sources of friendship and meaningful relationships, as well as having genuine philanthropic goals.
The solution to the problems that arise in conjunction with Greek life is, then, not to ban them but to lower the drinking age.
At first, this might sound counterproductive: How will legalizing alcohol help with binge drinking and other dangerous events which often occur while people are under the influence?
Young people under the age of 21 are going to drink regardless of whether or not it is legal; to think otherwise is to be entirely and absurdly ignorant. If the drinking age were lowered, however, there would be less chance of young people choosing not to get help for themselves or their friends if too much drinking occurred, for fear of punishment.
Meanwhile, there could also be more regulation and oversight by the university, hopefully preventing against hazing and other dangerous practices because fraternities would not have to worry about possible repercussions related to alcohol.
It is time to set aside the utterly absurd drinking age of 21 (which serves no real purpose anyway, given the vast number of young people who drink--and drink a lot--before they are 21) and move forward with a safer fraternity life for everyone.