Are college fraternities and sororities a good thing?
- The terms ‘fraternity’ and ‘sorority’ comes from the Latin ‘fraternus’ (brother) and ‘soror’ (sister). Fraternities generally have male members while sororities have female members.
- Some of the most well-known (or notorious) Greek organizations include Alpha Phi Alpha (first African American Greek fraternity), Phi Mu, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Kappa Alpha, Delta Gamma, Alpha Kappa Delta Phi.
- Fun stats: There are 123 fraternities and sororities nationally with 9 million total members. 43 of the nation’s 50 largest corporations and 40 of the 47 US Supreme Court members since 1910 have been fraternity members.
- The first American social club, which later turned into a fraternity, was the Phi Beta Kappa Society established in 1776 at Yale.
As universities start the beginning of the new school year each fall, this is normally the time fraternities and sororities engage in their annual Rush for new members. One of the major questions is why. Why are college fraternities and sororities considered such a good thing?
There are several key points on why an individual would want to join a fraternity and sorority. Unfortunately, fraternities and sororities get a lot of negative press, but they do a lot of good for the communities they live in while members attend college. All Greek Life organizations provide community service, plus they have philanthropic organizations they support. Throughout the year, they are fundraising or providing hands-on service for these organizations. Bottom line is community service is at the heart of fraternities and sororities.
It is common to build lifelong friendships within Greek Life that last a lifetime. By joining Greek Life, members extend their family. And in this new extended friend and family group, members share a unifying set of values, goals, dreams, and interests. Plus, these groups are made up of a diverse group of individuals from all over the country or perhaps the world.
Another benefit of the Greek system is learning new skills (such as leadership), which help members build their resumes as employers see Greek Life as an extracurricular commitment. So, as students start their college journey, they shouldn't believe all the stereotypes shown in movies. Being apart of a community which not only gives back to the community but supplies lifelong friendships and connections needed for the real world is a priceless opportunity all undergrads should consider.
College fraternities and sororities, collectively the 'Greek system,' are deeply rooted in exclusivity, holding historically racist and classist practices. Although no longer enforcing racial segregation, 'legacy' recruitment gives preference to relatives, upholding a lack of diversity. Moreover, membership dues often reach well into the $1,000s per term, excluding students of lower socioeconomic status. This maintains a strong economic divide, granting the already advantaged additional resources and networking opportunities with established alumni.
Involvement in these organizations can lead to immoral, illegal, and dangerous practices, with members engaging in 'more risky health behaviors.' Fraternities and sororities have a negative impact on academic performance, as well as a higher rate of academic dishonesty (cheating). 'Greek life' has demonstrated a strong association with a 'higher prevalence of sexual assault.' Research shows fraternity members 'are more likely to endorse rape-supportive attitudes' than students outside the Greek system. These behaviors and their campus-wide influence may contribute to 'a culture conducive to rape.'
Perhaps most harmful to members themselves, hazing is a persistent, often life-threatening tradition within the Greek system. Hazing-related deaths have been reported annually for decades, with 70 students' lives lost to the practice since 2000 alone. Grieving family members often cite the young scholars' desire for camaraderie while mourning their children's 'friends'' direct involvement in their child's loss of life.
The tragedies often involve alcohol and binge drinking, which, along with the established association of Greek Life with increased violence and sexual assault, have resulted in numerous lawsuits brought against the organizations, along with the colleges and individuals involved. Clearly, the damage caused by the behaviors and practices perpetuated by these organizations extends far beyond the walls of their Greek Life housing.