Talk it Out: Is greek life bad for Texas State?
February 5, 2020
Greek life is a problem
Welcome to bidding season, where girls are degraded because they fail to fit the “look” and guys get drunk and go cow-tipping for fun. It should go without saying sororities and fraternities on college campuses are out of hand.
Greek life has not always been part of the “go crazy, go stupid” party scene. Greek life first originated in the late 1700s after the founding of the second colonial college. However, the first Greek-letter society came after a student had been refused admission into literary society PDA. Instead, he, along with four of his friend’s, formed their own society using Greek letters to name it and Phi Beta Kappa was born. During this time, secret societies were formed to invoke intellectual and controversial discussion. As American culture has evolved, so has the purpose of Greek life.
Greek life is plagued by negative connotations, terrible incidents and a culture leaving a lot to be desired. What first comes to mind may be exclusive parties, expenses, alcohol and drug abuse. Sorority and fraternity members might feel a certain level of entitlement when it comes to their Greek mumbo jumbo name, which allows them to assume they are of higher status.
People on college campuses should not ignore the problems that get such organizations into trouble in the first place. Hazing and alcohol tend to go hand-in-hand when discussing Greek life, as there has been at least one hazing death every year at a school-related event in the U.S. since 1961.
As of 2010, the number of hazing/pledging/rushing-related deaths has totaled about 90 males and 6 females across the nation. A pledge from Penn State died after being forced to consume 18 drinks in less than 90 minutes, later suffering from a traumatic brain injury after falling headfirst down a flight of stairs. This hazing ritual is known to fraternities as “the gauntlet.”
A more recent hazing incident occurred January 2017, involving sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha at Northwestern University, where hazing played a large role in the suicide of a 19-year-old college basketball player. This “alleged” hazing included paddling, verbal and mental abuse, financial exploitation, sleep deprivation and various items being thrown and dumped on her.
Texas State is all too familiar with this pain. Between 2017 and 2018, two students have lost their lives while participating in Greek life events, including Mathew Ellis who had a blood alcohol content of .38 while pledging. While Texas State suspended and revamped its policies, it may only be a matter of time before another student falls victim to the antics of Greek life organizations.
The majority of these incidents seem to occur due to lack of responsibility or maturity. Even as universities crackdown on particular societies, the punishments never seem to last or take full effect, leading to other students falling victim.
As young adults, members of any organization should understand the decision to haze or consume too much alcohol affects outside parties as well, including families that have lost their son or daughter due to lawless actions imposed by mindless rules. Sadly, rarely do Greek life members suffer or change their ways for long.
Additionally, Greek chapters are extremely expensive and time-consuming. The University of Southern California averages about $1,800 in dues per semester. Pledges are expected to pay membership dues, initiation and pledge fees, Alumni grants and fundraise.
Pledges oftentimes remain unaware of the full cost their sorority or fraternity charges until halfway through the recruitment process, which has the potential to change year-to-year. Being a member of Greek life can be extremely time-consuming as well. Parents do not pay tuition for their kids to party, but instead for them to earn a degree.
For some—especially freshmen—the party scene can be extremely inviting. So inviting in fact, pledges or members may be unable to effectively manage their time, leading to poor academic performance. Additionally, members have to allocate time for meetings and social events, or else they face the dangers of getting kicked out, charged or suspended.
Greek life needs a new brand, one that does not include White Claw and Coors all over it. As long as this is mainstream culture, these groups should have no place on campus. Either end the party culture and bring back the focus of academia or get banned for good.
Greek life should not be hated on
On Texas State’s campus, Greek life organizations tend to fall victim to myriad bad views and stereotypes. Whispers of people claim sororities and fraternities are a waste of money, the equivalency of buying friends, have too strict of a “regime” or serve people who do not care about education and simply want to party. Yet, these biases ignore the benefits of these organizations and the positive impacts they can bring to members’ lives.
While a point of contention is often how expensive Greek life can be, there are reasons for the dues, like paying for events where money is raised for charities or outside organizations. Chapters usually have a specific organization they donate to or help fundraise for, such as Autism Speaks, Children’s Miracle Network, Huntsman Cancer Institute and Feeding America, just to mention a few on campus.
Such events and their benefits extend to the San Marcos community as well. Several chapters require mandatory volunteer hours for each member to complete; these are often done through local efforts like working through Keep San Marcos Beautiful, helping at local schools or the Hays County Food Bank.
Additional fees cover fun events, maintaining the chapter house—if applicable—and national dues. While there are differences in prices among different chapters, the money goes back into the members and community.
Chapters encourage members to be their best selves through Greek life. Organizations help prepare for the future by teaching sociability and professionalism, having higher quality of life post grad and often make the transition into college life easier and smoother.
Depending on the sorority and fraternity, there is an emphasis on maintaining academic points, being involved in community service and supporting other local chapters while holding each other to the standard of Nationals. Being part of Greek life is not all parties and getting drunk. There is accountability for maintaining a high standard.
Furthermore, Greek life allows for individuals to establish bonds with members of their same organization. Connections created can be highly useful in the future. One of the best aspects of Greek life is the networking opportunities, not just in local chapters, but at the national level.
People participating in Greek life are not “buying friends,” nor are they wasting money. Members spend money on the social events they want to attend, the fundraising events they contribute to and the investment in their future. Members do not waste their time partying away but rather gather experience by becoming part of a group and having the opportunity to take on various leadership positions.
Greek affiliation is often misunderstood and unfairly stereotyped due to incidents that have occurred but this is not the case for every fraternity or sorority. Not everyone in Greek life is involved to party. To fully understand the values involved, someone cannot simply look at Greek life from an outside perspective to accurately make generalizations based on a few encounters with various organizations or its members. The ones breaking the rules should be chased off-campus, but there is no reason to ban all Greek life.
Sororities and fraternities may not be something everyone wants to be involved in, but that does not warrant organizations being expelled from campus. There are amazing people in fraternities and sororities who are trying to better themselves and those around them. This is the epitome of what Greek life strives to do and why it should remain.