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The Greek System: Ought to School College students Join Fraternities Or Sororities?

Since I began writing and speaking about increased schooling in preparation for my forthcoming e book, Learn how to Succeed at School and Beyond: The Art of Learning, I’ve been asked about my views of the Greek System. While fraternities and sororities are quite wonderful experiences for some, we need to inquire whether or not on balance they have outlived their usefulness.

Men's Desgin Batten down the hatches Short Sleeve T-ShirtI. The Greek System in 2015
I start with a query: Were the Greek system proposed right now as manner of improving campus life for faculties and universities, would it be approved? I’m satisfied that at most colleges and universities, the answer can be “No.” At Cornell, where I teach, with over a thousand further-curricular and service activities and a plethora of how to seek out a comfortable group of pals, what would be the explanation for approving such a system? Would anyone imagine the necessity of the Greek system in 2015 were it not here already?

Fraternities and sororities date to an period of campus parietal rules that governed men’s interaction with ladies living in residential facilities. These guidelines have lengthy since disappeared. They also date from a time when there have been far fewer other activities on campus. The fraternities and sororities supplied a social community and held the promise of precious future enterprise–largely for males in the early days–and social contacts with those who belonged to chapters at different colleges of the same house.

Sooner or later, major universities and faculties that nonetheless retain the Greek system will need to contemplate whether or not the Greek system, on balance, nonetheless serves a helpful objective or is an anachronism from a distinct time. This is particularly relevant at these universities and faculties that supply many opportunities for social interplay, neighborhood service, and leadership, all of which draw upon varied scholar abilities and fulfill diverse pupil curiosity and needs.

I consider fraternities and sororities have outlived their usefulness. Had been they proposed at this time, directors, professors and hosts of students would agree that leadership may very well be developed in hundreds of current groups. These groups include athletics (varsity, membership, and intramural sports), student government, religious organizations, and political clubs, in addition to campus publications, musical teams (band, orchestra, a cappella singing, etc.), and dance and theatre teams.

Fraternities and sororities tend to breed homogeneity and conformity within the type of shared social, ethical and political attitudes and conduct. Most of them encourage alcohol consumption, including underage and illegal drinking. Lastly, they absorb time that could be higher spent on tutorial work and extra-curricular activities, together with community service. Because of those elements, Greek organizations may at times cut back scholar innovation and creativity. From my observation, fraternities and, to a lesser extent, sororities impose a kind of conformity that stifles development and creates anxiety about being different or not going together with accepted mores.

Here is a fair question for college students to ask: In terms of non-public progress, which includes developing impartial views, is it better to live in a dorm or residential faculty where there is more financial and social variety and where getting along does not imply subscribing to the views of your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters?

Based on Cornell former President David Skorton, “At Cornell, excessive-danger drinking and drug use are two to three times more prevalent amongst fraternity and sorority members than elsewhere in the pupil population.”

In mild of that statistic and my other objections, I doubt that the Greek system is value maintaining and believe Cornell and different universities and schools should a) take the bold step of trying into alternatives; and/or b) use instances of fraternity misbehavior—and sorority misbehavior which occurs much less typically–to completely remove the offending homes one after the other and use the buildings for something like the very profitable Cornell undergraduate residential college system that has been instituted instead. I am a house fellow at one of the residential schools at Cornell; here the students are extra various than those in the Greek system, hazing doesn’t exist, and there’s a rich intellectual life complemented by social actions.

II. Dartmouth
Dartmouth students have grow to be increasingly impatient with the Greek System. Tyler Kingkade, Huffington Submit Senior Editor, experiences: “Greater than 4 occasions as many people advised the Greek system was a problem than those who stated it was not. In addition to the roughly 260 who mentioned it must be abolished, dozens of others called on the school to extend regulation or to require all houses to go coed.”

A entrance web page editorial within the Oct. 17, 2014 Dartmouth Student Newspaper known as for abolishing the Greek system:

Let’s do what needs to be completed, the only action consistent with our principles of group, and abolish the Greek system. . . . For many, Greek life takes precedence over lecturers. It’s an investment (perhaps a risky one), a path to acceptance, mates, sex, medication, love and jobs. Since so many college students’ lives seemingly gun sweatshirts depend upon the system, it is no wonder that administrators have did not abolish it, regardless of the numerous accounts of hazing and abuse that have been documented over the years. . . . The Greek system undeniably permits and institutionalizes harmful behaviors.

No, Greek life just isn’t the root of all of the Faculty’s issues or of broader societal ills. But as a system, it amplifies college students’ worst habits. It facilitates binge drinking and sexual assault. It perpetuates unequal, gendered power dynamics and institutionalizes arbitrary exclusivity. It divides students — the system as an entire separates freshmen from upperclassmen, males from ladies. Membership draws lines among buddies. . . .

Many attribute increased confidence levels and higher management and management skills to their Greek homes. We don’t search to discredit the positive experiences that many have inside Greek areas. However we cannot let emotional arguments cloud what’s objectively best for our school and its college students. We should look past our short years here and suppose in regards to the Faculty’s future, which implies eliminating an antiquated system. Abolishing Greek life, though not a be-all, finish-all solution, would offer Dartmouth an opportunity to rebuild its social life from the ground up.

Some months later Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon introduced a ban on hard liquor and that Dartmouth was monitoring the habits and role of the Geek system.

In keeping with a 2014 Bloomberg editorial:

Though a majority of school students drink, abusive drinking is much more prevalent in fraternities. One study of 17,000 students at 140 4-yr colleges found that just about ninety p.c of fraternity house residents have interaction in binge drinking (five or more drinks at a time), compared with forty five % for nonmembers. Binge drinking is associated with a host of ills, from neurological harm to assaults.

Alcohol abuse also performs a central function in some of the corrosive points of fraternities: hazing of latest members in initiation rituals that are often brutal and vile….

The anti-intellectualism that dominates a lot of fraternity life–the frat-boy culture of spring-break lore and “Animal Home”–additionally takes a toll on its members’ educational performance. Even adjusting for variations in ability, age, and different elements, fraternity members tend to have decrease grades and underperform compared with their nonmember peers in checks of cognitive skills.

Fraternities additionally are at cross-functions with the goal of promoting campus diversity. As a complete, they’re more homogenous than the general school scholar population.

III. Why Does the Greek System Survive?
The Greek system thrives for a lot of reasons, but an essential one is its emphasis on college partying which–along with other calls for the Greek system makes on its members–results in a substantial decline in study time. (Study time is the inclusive time period for class preparation, homework, paper writing, and exam study.) For some college students, fraternities and sororities change into extraordinarily time-consuming and change a deal with teachers or other actions. The Greek system usually encourages a kind of sectarianism during which membership in the fraternity or sorority takes place over dedication to the larger neighborhood.

Whereas residential colleges and universities have all the time had a social component, that element appears to be larger now, although it of course varies by program and college. Definitely a few of the partying–happening even on weekdays with Thursday being a particular focus–derives from the Greek system, the place beer can be accessible 24-7.

Why has this occurred? Why have some college administrators and trustees allowed faculties to be was get together circuses on weekends and sometimes in the course of the week? Why do they turn a blind eye to underage drinking and every so often use of unlawful substances? Why do they fail to acknowledge that sexual harassment and abuse as well as demeaning and harmful hazing are rampant on campuses? Often these points are generated by the Greek system, particularly fraternities.

One answer to the questions above is that directors and trustees are following the cash. They’re supporting a system that attracts students and, they hope, will flip a number of the wealthy and financially successful students into donors. They believe that this partying culture is what many college students need and why they choose a selected school in addition to in some circumstances why they select a selected Greek system “party home” through which such behavior is inspired.

Many college students attend colleges with social activities–the prospect of “having a blast”–uppermost of their minds. Students spend grant and mortgage cash on bar bills and social activities that have little to do with training. Once rowdy drinking parties revolve around fraternity and sorority tailgating events at football and basketball video games, however at some massive universities these campus-extensive celebrations are held for nearly any event or holiday.

With many much less aggressive schools eager, if not desperate, for college kids to enroll students and to pay soaring tuition, fraternities and sororities serve that goal by attracting some students who may not in any other case be in college. Moreover, a few of these soaring expenses of major universities derive from their aggressive want to show their dormitories, dining halls, and gym amenities into these of a 3 star resort and their athletic amenities into that of an Olympic site, remodeled and new Greek houses can also add to the scholar prices.

As Caitlin Flanagan puts it in her March 2013 cowl story within the Atlantic entitled, “The Dark Power of Fraternities”: “[F]raternities present faculties with limitless social programming of a form that is very attractive to legions of potential students, most of whom will not be making use of to ivy-lined rejection factories, but quite to huge public institutions and obscure non-public schools that are desperate for college students.” I have been told by college students at various schools that they wouldn’t have attended a faculty without a Greek system, however after i ask Cornellians if they’d have turned down Cornell for an additional faculty or chosen not to apply were there no fraternities or sororities, they by no means answer yes to both query.

IV. Points to consider Before You Be a part of the Greek System

A. How Much Does the Get together Tradition, in which the Greek System Performs a major Role, Affect the nature of the School Educational Experience?

It can be unfair to place the predominant blame for the decrease in examine time on the Greek system. However the demands of the Greek system–together with the pledging interval and, later, compulsory meetings in addition to varied actions and expectations—could contribute to the decline in research time.

Even if the evidence isn’t clear about whether Greek students research much less or get lower grades–and I have discovered research each professional and con–the cost in hours is extreme. Some of the Greek social actions, like making by hand foolish required gifs by older sorority student for their youthful or “little sisters” and vice versa, are usually not solely time consuming, but seem more appropriate to 12 12 months olds than to mature younger adults. Different required gifts are simply financially expensive.

All too few school college students think of their schooling as a full-time job requiring an investment of day trip of class equal in hours to twice the credit hour. This formula for research time was once considered the essential rule of thumb for school success; certainly this was true in 1959-sixty three when I used to be an undergraduate. Two hours per credit continues to be the usual I use for impartial examine programs.

Based on Richard Arum and Josipa Eokas, “[T]here has been a 50 p.c decline within the variety of hours a student spends finding out and making ready for courses from a number of many years ago.” They speculate that “[O]ne attainable motive for a decline in academic rigor and, consequentially, in writing and reasoning expertise, is that the principal evaluation of college efficiency comes from scholar evaluations at the tip of the semester. These evaluations, Arum says, tend to coincide with the anticipated grade that the scholar thinks he or she will obtain from the instructor.”

In one 2011 research mission, school students averaged 15 hours every week of research time, with engineers averaging 19 hours, and those within the social sciences and business averaging 14 hours. A 2014 examine puts the typical at 17 hours. I have seen numbers as low as 10 to thirteen hours. Some faculties still advocate 2 hours per week for each credit score hour, but this recommendation appears to not be taken seriously by most college students at most colleges. The truth is, I’ve found that the majority current students have by no means heard of it.

B. At Many Colleges, Important Social Issues are Associated with the Greek System.

In some locations, as Flanagan observes;

[F]raternities are now mightier than the faculties and universities that host them. . . The organizations elevate tens of millions of dollars for worthy causes, contribute hundreds of thousands of hours in community service, and search to steer younger men toward lives of service and honorable motion. They even have an extended, dark historical past of violence towards their own members and visitors to their homes, which makes them in lots of respects at odds with the core mission of faculty itself.

Hardly per week goes by and not using a report of an alcohol related death or a story about date rape or different abusive misbehavior taking place at a fraternity, and sometimes nothing extra occurs than a ritualistic announcement from the college administration about “deep remorse” and “looking into the incident.” Outrageous misbehavior happens, in part, as a result of many fraternities demean girls by objectifying them as sexual objects, and that stereotyping can lead at worst to non-consensual sexual habits. Now we have ample proof that fraternities and sororities are sites of more frequent anti-social conduct than is the case for any other sites the place college students live.

Let me cite some information:

In line with the U.S. Division of Training’s Greater Schooling Middle, seventy five% of fraternity members engaged in heavy drinking, in contrast with forty nine% of different male students. Likewise, sixty two% of sorority members engaged in binge drinking versus forty one% of non-sorority members. . . . .Extra college students engaged in drinking at fraternity and sorority houses than another on-campus venue or residence corridor. Based on the Harvard School of Public Health’s School Alcohol Study, 75% of students dwelling in fraternity and sorority houses were heavy drinkers, compared to forty five% of scholars who lived in non-Greek housing and 35% of the overall scholar inhabitants.

We also have evidence that extra sexual assaults happen in fraternities and that the victims are more likely to be sorority members:

Fraternities’ group norms and attitudes toward women and intercourse have led to this rape tradition environment. In line with research from the journal Sex Roles, particular person fraternity men are more likely to show objectifying images of women in their rooms, . . . and imagine women want to have interaction in tough sexual acts even in the event that they act disinterested.

IV. Other Greek Life Issues
Before becoming a member of the Greek system, you also need to consider the monetary and personal costs. In “Greek Letters at a Value,” Risa C. Doherty provides an interesting perspective on the hidden prices of joining a sorority. Not only are there month-to-month or semester dues, but there are house fees and numerous social expenditures incurred by social activities and huge sister (or brother) relationships with incoming little sisters (or brothers); these expenditures for both younger and older college students can be within the lots of of dollars. One parent claims to have spent over $3200 in the student’s first 12 months.

Since fraternities and sororities tend to choose members who’re like themselves, they are likely to contribute to campus ethnic and socio-financial divisions. They often become enclaves the place related political views, social codes, and economic standing prevail. Often the fraternities and sororities focus more on social events–mixers–than on serious issues. Hardly ever do campus protests against social injustices originate within the Greek system. Traditionally, fraternities have been less than tolerant of gays and at worst have inspired homophobia.

Another significant draw back of the Greek system is that college students who do not get chosen by the extra prestigious homes usually question their self-worth, and people not chosen in any respect feel ostracized. Moreover, the choice course of usually does not measure intellect, social maturity, or ethics, however bodily attractiveness, economic status, and “fitting in” to the present house culture and mores. After all, one might argue with some cynicism that not getting all the things we want when we want it is nice preparation for life, but that doesn’t alleviate painful disappointment.

Abusive hazing polices associated with initiation have at instances resulted in accidents and even deaths. But, we do have to keep in mind that hazing is just not restricted to fraternities and sororities. Varsity teams, especially males ones, and school bands have also been implicated in abusive incidents and unacceptable conduct that jeopardize the health of students.

My recommendation to college students: If anyone asks you to do something that’s abusive, compromises your dignity, or negatively affects your physical or emotional well being and sense of self in the name of pleasing somebody or creating dedication to a group–whether it be a fraternity, sorority, workforce or other group–stroll away instantly.

V. The Counter-Argument (and some Responses)
Let us flip to causes proposed for becoming a member of the Greek system, and in addition consider their validity.

Travis Apgar, Associate Dean of students, and the individual straight accountable for Cornell Greek Life, claims: “The leadership, self-governance, integrity, and interpersonal expertise that are developed, mixed with the outside of the classroom educational experiences resembling group service alternatives is what makes belonging so particular.”

I’ve realized from students is that the main benefit of membership in the Greek system is that belonging overcomes a sense of loneliness and provides students a sense of being part of a neighborhood that cares about them. In a sense it breaks down the campus–specific that of a large university with many lecture courses numbering within the hundreds– into smaller manageable items. Many members form lifetime friendships.

Many college students and alumni imagine fraternities and sororities do enrich the lives of young adults. They supply a neighborhood and will give students a chance to take on a management position within the group. Proponents of the Greek system believe that fellow fraternity and sorority members from different schools and universities provide an essential networking base and will probably be extra probably to hire them or advocate them for membership in prestigious social and neighborhood groups. While native networking will be found not only in other additional-curricular campus actions as well as numerous different residing arrangements, these networks are limited to particular person campuses and graduates and the Greek system’s network extends into the a lot bigger social and enterprise world of graduates of all chapters of a selected sorority and fraternity. Nonetheless, in at the moment’s world, with its emphasis on advantage, expertise, and diversity, I am undecided this “outdated boy” community is as essential because it as soon as was, particularly for employment.

Another argument I hear is that fraternities and sororities do worthwhile philanthropic work and community outreach and such outreach can add to a resume. In recent years, notwithstanding the robust place of the Greek system on some campuses, many other organizations have developed to contain students in the neighborhood. In truth such involvement in other organizations has turn into a vital half in resume constructing. Furthermore, Greek members have advised me that in reality little time is dedicated to neighborhood outreach and claims of philanthropic activity are largely window-dressing.

I’ve often been informed by college students–including by some who excelled academically–how a lot the fraternity and sorority system meant to them, particularly in the second time period of their freshman year and their sophomore 12 months. Nonetheless, I’ve been instructed by many juniors and seniors in the Greek sysytem–and in my view some of the easiest college students–that they feel that fraternities and sororities are a tad claustrophobic and that they now search a wider variety of friendsand actions. My recommendation: When you do be a part of, make sure you take part in not less than one other campus exercise, gun sweatshirts and don’t let your fraternity or sorority grew to become the focal level of your school life.

Figuring out of my skepticism in regards to the Greek system in 2014, my honors thesis pupil Christian Kinsella, Cornell ’14 observes, “I appreciate [your] acceptance that fraternities do work for some. I agree that they are not essential and even ideally suited, but my diverse group of mates from Cornell would have been non-existent without Zeta Beta Tau (I do know that is opposite to the norm, where fraternities perpetuate separatism).” Camille Finn ’15 provides:

[T]he most worthy factor I have gotten out of my sorority experience has been the lifelong pals that I have made. My first semester at Cornell was very laborious and i didn’t have many mates; I felt fairly lonely at times. After i joined a sorority second semester I started to really feel a sense of belonging right here, and the enjoyment that I received out of the sorority [was] reflected in my general happiness and success at Cornell. The network of people who a sorority gives you consists of ladies from totally different backgrounds who share your identical values and interests, and alumni who really care about growing a personal connection with you and the sorority. You’ll be able to definitely discover this stuff by completely different organizations and venues at Cornell, but my sorority has given me many irreplaceable experiences which have shaped my development as an individual at this faculty and beyond.

I have indicated in the previous pages why I am skeptical that the experiences she values could not be discovered elsewhere.

Another argument in favor of the Greek system that I typically hear is that main alumni donors would be offended if the Greek system have been abolished, partly because their allegiance is as much or extra to their fraternities and sororities than to the university. Nevertheless, I’ve recognized and know many of the key givers to Cornell, and I am most doubtful that their curiosity in Cornell derives from fraternity affiliation. Were Cornell to abolish the Greek system, there could be some alumni dissatisfaction and grumbling, but I might argue that the lengthy-term gain in civility and prestige would greater than offset the loss in funds, and that loss would come not from the foremost givers but from secondary ones. Many of the trustees and principal donors consider themselves as representing Cornell and never their fraternities and sororities, if they belonged to at least one. To an extent, these individuals and households consider themselves as custodians for the life and future welfare of the college as a complete.

Yet one more argument against abolishing the Greek system right here and elsewhere is that such a move would depart schools and universities without enough housing, especially since they don’t own many of the buildings housing fraternities and sororities I have looked into this at Cornell. Of the 39 fraternity residences at Cornell, about a third are owned by Cornell. The remainder are owned or rented by the fraternities and sororities. But, if the Greek system had been abolished, to whom might the fraternities and sororities that own their homes promote them besides to Cornell which might then use most of them as residences and perhaps a number of for another function.

Landlords who rent homes to fraternities or sororities could simply as simply rent them to the college or particular person students–or promote the homes to Cornell. That homes on campus cannot be bought to a industrial enterprise and that those off campus are zoned as residential would limit if not stop the possibility of gross sales to businesses. Cornell could buy people who they don’t own and turn them into faculty residences or websites for tutorial programs, although housing wants most likely would demand the former.

VI. What Occurs When the Greek System is Abolished?
Travis Apgar, the aforementioned Cornell Affiliate Dean of scholars in control of the Greek system, argues that it will take less effort and money to enhance the Greek system than to abolish it, but I am undecided.

Schools which have abolished the Greek system, corresponding to Middlebury, Amherst, Williams, and Colby, are hardly immune to such social issues as excessive drinking and sexual harassment. However the directors of those colleges do assume they’re higher off with out the Greek system.

Apparently, a small quantity of scholars at among the aforementioned faculties could belong to so-referred to as underground fraternities. Certainly, Amherst as of July 1, 2014 threatened to expel or suspend all the 90 (of a scholar physique of 1800) college students who belong to underground fraternities.

VII. Conclusion:
Whereas not dismissing the positive function that fraternities and sororities have played and do play for some students, my advice to college students is to be wary of the Greek system and alert to the alternatives by way of residing arrangements and sources of friendship, I’ve recognized many students whose preliminary enthusiasm waned and have been afraid to deactivate lest they would be ostracized by their former brothers and sisters. Don’t join a fraternity or sorority just because just a few associates are becoming a member of; if they’re real friends, you won’t lose them. If you are enthusiastic about becoming a member of, consider “dry” houses where alcohol just isn’t permitted. For some students, ready till their sophomore yr to rush gives them time to suppose extra maturely about joining fairly than simply following the herd as freshmen. Ask your self whether or not your student life might be richer should you strive just a few terms without the Greek system; you could find by your sophomore 12 months that you’ve found other assets and do not want that system in any respect.

Author of the current Studying the European Novel to 1900 and the well-obtained 2012 book Endtimes? Crises and Turmoil at the brand new York Occasions (Excelsior Editions of SUNY Press), which appeared in an up to date 2014 new paperback version, Daniel R. Schwarz is Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University where he has gained Cornell’s main instructing prizes. He also writes on increased training, including his e book In Protection of Studying: Instructing Literature within the Twenty-First Century, and a guide in press on the undergraduate experience entitled How to achieve School and Beyond: The Artwork of Studying.

Daniel R. Schwarz is Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell College the place he has won Cornell’s main educating prizes. He also writes on greater schooling, together with his book In Defense of Studying: Instructing Literature in the Twenty-First Century, and a ebook in press (late Feb. 2016) on the undergraduate experience entitled How to achieve School and Beyond: The Art of Studying. (Hardback:ISBN 9781118974841; Paperback: ISBN 9781118974858).

Among Schwarz’s other books are the current Studying the European Novel to 1900 and the nicely-obtained 2012 book Endtimes? Crises and Turmoil at the brand new York Occasions (Excelsior Editions of SUNY Press), which appeared in an up to date 2014 new paperback edition.

He blogs on greater schooling and the media for the Huffington Post. He could be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter at and

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