Greek Life in Higher Education

By Josie Barton

Fraternities and Sororities across Colleges and Universities provide conflicting elements to the overall health and success of affiliated students.

Greek life can offer student development, scholarships and academic improvement. Although it can improve student engagement, Greek life renders many consequences: hazing, sexual assault, binge drinking, and racism.

Some Fraternities and Sororities provide emotional, academic, and leadership opportunities to its members.

“When a fraternity is done right, it provides the premier leadership experience on college campuses,” The North American Interfraternity Conference remarks. Advocates say that Greek life improves interpersonal and leadership skills and encourages community service and philanthropy.

Fraternities alone have skyrocketed in membership from 2005 to 2015. Fraternity integration included 253,000 members in 2005 compared to more than 372,000 members in 2015. Greek life can offer merit-scholarships to students, especially to returning and devoted juniors and seniors.

Student academic development is very prominent in Greek life. Thiel’s own Greek life GPA averages higher than its unaffiliated student average.

Although these factors promote positive reinforcement for Greek life, the consequences exceed the benefits. Hazing is a common tactic pronounced in fraternities. Hazing includes rituals to prove one’s worth to the system. Hazing can include forced drinking, eating, mental tasks, physical labor, isolation, physical acts, humiliation, and illegal activities.

60 fraternity-related deaths occurred between the years of 2005 and 2013, the majority caused by hazing.

In 2013, a fraternity at Baruch College in New York City was disbanded after members forced crude physical and mental acts on a new member, killing him in the act. Members of the fraternity were charged with third-degree murder, aggravated assault, hindering apprehension, hazing, and conspiracy.

Joining Greek life also includes the threat of sexual assault. According to attorneys Lewis and Llewellyn, women affiliated with sororities are 74 percent more likely to experience rape than other college women outside of Greek life.

Fraternity men are 3 times more likely to commit rape than men unaffiliated with a fraternity. Pennsylvania State University Kappa Delta Rho fraternity was suspended after members posted Facebook photos of intoxicated females who were passed out, one of whom was naked.

Along with hazing and sexual assault, binge drinking accumulates as a large part of Greek life activities. Lecturer and researcher at Harvard School of Public Health, Henry Wechsler, guided the “College Alcohol Study” in 1995 on binge drinking in Greek life. The research proved that 86 percent of fraternity residents and 80 percent of sorority residents were binge drinkers. Students unaffiliated with Greek life make up only 45 percent of males and 36 percent of females who were binge drinkers at the time.

Finally, the issue of racism and discrimination factors into problems with Greek life. Fraternities commonly exclude members based on wealth, physical attractiveness, or social status.

The University of Oklahoma shut down fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon after members of the group were caught on video singing a blatantly racist song calling for lynching African Americans.

Although Greek life can demonstrate the ability to aid students in academics and life skills, numerous contradictions-hazing, sexual assault, binge drinking, and racism-factor into a common question: “Should Greek life have a place in higher education?” Jane Friedman, author of the article “Greek Life on Campus: Should Colleges Ban Fraternities and Sororities?” questions the legitimacy and logic behind keeping Greek life a part of higher education.

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