Greek Life: Good or Bad?

Hazel Rouse

College is full of decisions, from class choices to parties versus studying. Young adults are forced to make many decisions that will greatly impact their future. One of those decisions is to join a fraternity or sorority. These Greek organizations often are double edged swords. The positive and negative aspects and how they’re portrayed in the media often affect college students’ decisions.

Sororities are a group of women formed by a sisterhood, common goals, and aspirations who make a commitment to each other for life. Sororities cost money. The average cost of new member dues is $1,570. These dues include house corporation fees and initiation fees, among many others. Hazing, humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation rituals, used to take place in these organizations. It often caused death and accidents that transcended into the news, giving sororities some bad representation. For example, the Huffington Post covered a story about a hazing incident on April 16, 2014. The sorority Chi Omega blindfolded two of its pledges, made them drink an entire bottle of rum, dropped them off in an abandoned parking lot and left them to find their way home. Fraternities are like sororities, only they are groups of men. Fraternities appear in the news more often than sororities for things like death, rape, riots, and excessive alcohol consumption. Fraternities cost money as well. The average for someone living in the frat house is $3,300 and the average for someone living outside of the frat house is $2,300. Fraternities are not cheap, and not everyone has that kind of money lying around. Hazing also occurs in these organizations, often told in the news. A member of a fraternity at Dartmouth College wrote about his experiences during hazing. He described events like being forced to eat an omelet made of vomit, forced to chug cups of vinegar, forced to inhale nitrous oxide, and other disgusting things. He described the culture of these fraternities as abuse culture, and wrote that one of his fellow pledges went to counseling. There is also the case of Mr. Deng at Baruch College. He died after a ritual in which the pledges “were strapped into weighted backpacks and blindfolded, then made to find their way across a frozen lawn while others tried to tackle them”, an article stated. Students attempted to hide the evidence from the police about the ritual and are predicted to be charged with homicide.

While these college organizations have their downsides, they also have positive effects and benefits as well. They help college students network. By meeting these upperclassmen, they can help with jobs or clubs, and this extends to the years out of college. Sororities are also becoming more diverse. In the University of Alabama, for example, 190 of the students accepted into the traditionally white sororities were part of a minority. Young adults meet lifelong friends in sororities and fraternities, as many do in college universities. They also work with charities and do a lot of community service. Giving back to the community is a large part of some college Greek life. Like siblings at home, fellow members of the fraternity or sorority can help tutor or give access to information on teachers and classes.

So, maybe fraternities have a worse reputation than sororities, and maybe both have a negative connotation with their names in the media, but they have positive effects along with the negative ones. Personally, I tend to think if there’s more negative than positive that I can find, then maybe the subject isn’t one with many benefits. Nevertheless, fraternities and sororities continue to be a topic of controversy in the media and among conversations.