Sororities and Frats: Don’t Join Them

Mary Houser, Contributor

Drugs, alcohol, sex, oh my! Greek life is a big attraction for many prospective college students, but behind the blur of fun and the lure of ready made friendships lies a darker side: under-age drinking, illegal drugs, sexual assault, and hazing. As high school juniors, we are in a unique and powerful position to affect change in not only our own lives, but in the lives of students who will follow in our footsteps. 

While you might be lured by the perceived benefits of Greek life such as parties, ready-made friendships, and “fun,” fraternities create objectively dangerous environments where you, and your peers, will get hurt. Fraternities perpetuate and normalize aberrant behavior such as sexual assault and unhealthy gender power dynamics. Studies conducted by the NASPA Journal found that “women in sororities are 74 percent more likely to experience rape than other college women”. Alright girls, let’s think about that. And guys, think about this: studies also found that men in fraternities are three times more likely to commit rape than other men on college campuses. Wow. Regardless of who you are and how you identify, this is terrifying. According to Rita Seabrook and her colleagues at Rutgers University, “spending time with peers who are accepting of sexual violence leads men to be accepting of sexual violence themselves”. Gender equality issues already threaten our society and the presence of this culture in fraternities only makes the problem worse. You may not think that this will apply to you, but the facts show that it probably will. Is this really the culture you want to be a part of? 

Hazing is a requirement for membership at most fraternities and sororities. Hazing itself is often dangerous; some fraternities have their pledges take drugs or drink toxic amounts of alcohol as a test. At least one person dies each year because of activities directly related to hazing despite the fact that most schools ban hazing and it is illegal in most states. In sororities, hazing more often comes in the form of body shaming, which enforces negative stereotypes and increases depression among females on college campuses. A standard form of this body shaming hazing is forcing girls to stand naked on top of washing machines and circling the parts that jiggle. Talk about toxic. Sororities can also have “appearance guidelines” designed to keep girls who don’t fit their beauty standards out. Is this environment of mental and physical abuses, that can lead to death, one that you want to enter into? And is it one you want to foster for others?

You might think one of the benefits of Greek life is the potential connections between recent graduates and potential employers who are members of the same fraternity or sorority. What you might not realize is that such connections are facilitated by your college or university just as, or more, effectively than by a Greek institution. Moreover, there is less exclusivity in the college based process, which makes it more equitable to all students. You can find the networking and opportunities through your college itself, without all the added danger of Greek life.

College is expensive as it is. You and your parents are already probably trying to figure out how to pay for it. Greek life is also expensive. Do you really want this added burden? The financial barriers Greek life creates can also make it highly exclusive. Many fraternities and sororities collect annual dues of about $600 a semester from their members to pay for internal costs and to fund favored charities. In addition to these dues, sorority members may have to buy specific clothes or items for their “littles”, new sorority members, or their “bigs”, their mentors. These costs can be prohibitive for some students and lead to economic stratification, or at least economic stress. Is it really worth it?

You might want to get involved in Greek life because it is a way to make friends. And it is. The beginning of college is hard for most students because they are thrown into a new and stressful environment with no one to support them. They lean on frat parties as a means to join the social scene. But, these parties are not the only way to figure it out. The drinking at frat parties is detrimental and dangerous for students. It undermines real relationships, both platonic and romantic. You will form healthier relationships if you look to different, safer, ways to connect. You can bond with dorm mates or make friends from clubs or teams. Getting involved also gives better things to put on a resume than “frat partier”. And not to stress you out, but your college resume does actually matter. 

It might seem like a given that all colleges have Greek life, but they don’t. Prestigious universities like Notre Dame University, Rice University, and Amherst College do not have fraternities or sororities. Furthermore, it is always an option to not join Greek life. College is a time to be free, but it is also a time to learn self control. Parties will always exist, but the culture would be different and healthier if they didn’t take place at frats. It is also never a bad thing to be a little more focused on the real reason why you are at college: academics or athletics.

So, fellow juniors, vote with your feet! We have the power to affect changes in colleges and universities that will benefit ourselves, future students, and institutions of higher learning. You know what Greek life can do to you and you can stop it. Greek organizations only exist because new students rush every year. By choosing to not, you take that power away. Don’t let your self respect be diminished in the hazing process. Don’t be a hazer. Don’t drink your college years away. Don’t encourage others to. Protect yourself, as much as you can, from the dangers of sexual violence. Don’t be a rapist. Don’t join Greek life. 

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