The Whittier Miscellany

The Pros and Cons of Greek Life in College

Emma Landis & Cecilia Ergueta, Entertainment Writer & Columnist

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Do WFS students intend to participate in Greek life in college? The results from a school poll are in: a nearly exact three-way tie between “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.” Read Columnist Cecilia Ergueta’s and Entertainment Writer Emma Landis’ cases for why students should– or should not– consider going Greek.

 

Case For Greek Life

Emma Landis

 

Greek life is one of the most criticised parts of many colleges. While many people hold reservations about greek life, it also brings many advantages and can heighten any person’s college experience. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but there are many common misconceptions surrounding greek life.

Nearly ⅓ of Wilmington Friends’ current student body answered a survey saying they were planning on participating in greek life once at college. However, these test results must be taken with a grain of salt. Drew Pittenger ‘16, who attends Penn State and is in ‘Triangle’ fraternity, commented on frat life, saying “I never thought it was for me, I thought it would be a distraction from my schoolwork and I was worried about hazing”. Although this is many people’s first impression of greek life, there’s a lot more to it– Pittenger then said “I changed my mind when I saw my fraternity at the involvement fair… I went to the house for an event and saw that it was really just a bunch of good friends hanging out. Some of the other guys rushing turned out to be some of my best friends, and it turns out greek life isn’t as scary as I thought it would be”. Pittenger clearly loves being involved in greek life at Penn State, and believes that it can be for many types of different people.

While Pittenger enjoys his frat, he is also aware of the toxic parts. He explained his experience like this: “There’s some chapters at every school that are full of people who exclusively party and haze, and they’re definitely a big problem… The media likes to grab onto the bad parts of greek life– which are rare– and it gives everyone a bad impression of greek life as a whole. Most of the time it’s a group of friends who enjoy spending time with each other and helping each other out”. Pittenger seems to have a good grasp on the common ideas of greek life, and is a big fan. Moreover, often times fraternities and sororities are the biggest fundraisers for causes that their school is involved with. While greek life can be exclusive at times, many schools have a wide range of groups in which everyone can find their ‘people’.

Case Against Greek Life

Cecilia Ergueta

 

To the one-third of WFS students who “maybe” want to engage in Greek life in college: Don’t! Before you roll your eyes, listen why some of the apparent reasons to go Greek lead to good reasons not to.

“Going Greek is all about charity and service” True; each year, fraternities and sororities raise millions of dollars for worthy causes. At the same time, they perpetrate crimes against their own members. From the beginning, many Greek initiation rituals center around “hazing”, or activities expected of new members which are degrading, abusive, humiliating, or endangering. This could be seniors “punching and kicking juniors and covering them in urine, feces, pig intestines, fish guts, coffee grounds… [shooting] juniors with paintballs and [forcing] meat down a vegetarian’s throat.” It could also be one of the many stories in which hazing literally becomes deadly, as has been the case every single year since 1970. This only covers initiation. Throughout the rest of the year, men who join fraternities are three times more likely to rape, while women in sororities are 74% more likely to experience rape than their non-Greek peers. Clearly these abuses are not single-instance cases, but systematic. But after each new incident explodes across the media, Greek life retains its grip. How? National Greek organizations have devised a legal and financial framework that allows them to blame the recurring problems on a few “bad apples”, who are expelled, and sometimes go to jail, while the national organization simply starts a new chapter and everything continues as before. The Greek system condones and perpetuates an often criminally dangerous mentality.

“Pledging means joining lifelong friendships.” Let’s define that “friendship.” “Rushing,” the period in which fraternities and sororities select who will join their houses, often consists of a scrutinizing selection of “pledges” based on how much money they’ll be expected to give the house, their attractiveness, and their compatibility with existing members. The end result is frequently a house exerting crippling social conformity on its members: to dress the same, look the same, act the same. Katy Shannon ’17, current freshman at College of William and Mary, attests to the emphasis on appearances in “rushing”: “All of the girls I know who rushed spent a full hour before leaving getting dressed up in full faces of makeup, elegant hair (not an easy feat in the humidity of the swamp) and beautiful expensive dresses, every single day.” Unsurprisingly, sorority girls are more likely to suffer from body image issues and dysfunctional eating behaviors than peers. Some critics, like Mary Agne ’18, reject Greek life on the basis that “it’s basically paying for your friends.” Beyond the substantially higher lodging fees, the deeper cost may be in your self-esteem and individuality.

“Greek connections will be the most important ones for your future career.” The networking benefits are undeniable. Already half of the top 10 Fortune 500 CEOs are fraternity men; brothers/ sisters are scattered among all rungs of the professional ladder to lend a helping hand. But let’s return for a moment to the Greek recruitment process, which selects its members based on “compatibility” with the house. How do you detect  “compatibility”? One way is by the designer labels on a pledge’s clothes, suggesting a fat bank account. Or by his family name, which bespeaks power and influence. Or it could be by his religion, or the color of her skin. One white sorority at the University of Alabama has only ever knowingly pledged a single black student. “I see Greek life as a way for those with the time, money, and dedication to have access to a unique college opportunity, that not everyone wants or can join despite what some people may say,” shared Shannon ’17.“Generally it’s rich and white people who end up sticking with it.” Powerful Greek connections can help young graduates rise professionally, but at the cost of perpetuating socio-economic divides. To the undecided 33%: many of you could profit from this system. But do you really want to?

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The Pros and Cons of Greek Life in College