(Greek life images: WWW.Google.com )
Everyone has their own opinion about sororities and fraternities, from simply to join them or not, to if they are a problem on college campuses, or if they truly leave an impact on those who join. Coming into college freshman year, everyone like myself, asks the big question to join Greek life or to not join, followed by making the decision to choose which chapter you would fit into best? Many people can build opinions based solely on what they hear from the news or stereotypes that social media and movie portrayals create. My personal pros and cons list took me two years to finish because I did not originally want to join Greek life. After learning more about it and met more people involved in it, I decided to join as a junior. This really allowed me to give information on both sides of Greek life. Some pro and con topics that come to mind are the costs, benefits, short-term and long-term effects as well as effects on daily life.
The first thing people think about Greek life is that you are buying new friends. Yes it does cost a pretty penny but it ranges differently at each university. Many people do not realize that some sororities and fraternities differ in cost greatly from school to school and from organization to organization. The University of North Carolina says that the average dues are $1,631 per year for members not living in the house, and $2,970 per year, for members living in the fraternity house. At The University of Alabama dues cost $3,381 including housing and $2,304 for students who do not live at the fraternity house (http://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/527DA3CF/How-Much-Do-Fraternities-Cost/). This doesn’t include the individual cost of spending money on Greek lettered shirts, philanthropic events, and social events. Sorority bills are normally higher because most come with a meal plan with a chef.
Now what are all the benefits for spending so much money? In short-term it’s not just about making a bunch of new really good friends but a network of people to work with to help yourself. All of these new friends will help you out in any way they can such as what teacher/classes to take, how to get involved on campus, as well as put in a good word for you at a potential job. In meetings we say who the “Brother of the week” is and we nominate someone who helped out another brother and vote on it. We come together as brothers no matter from what university or organization, every sorority and fraternity supports each other without hesitation. That being said, recently, a member of my fraternity’s mom just passed away and we are all going to her funeral to be there for him. Another benefit is the philanthropy events that help out people in need or do something for the university itself. For example my fraternity just raised $10,000 for children’s hospital at the Cincinnati Dance Marathon. This year we happened to raise a large amount but every Greek organization was involved in the event and rose many thousands more, signifying the impact students can have on communities around them. Someone said “you can’t do much with $15 but if you and 60 people each had that then that could make a difference”.
Now that I am in a fraternity I get to join in activities that I would not previously have been a part of and I have a bunch of brothers to share the experience with. Additionally, it is often times cheaper to pay for rent when living in a fraternity house than most apartments and houses. This is because costs become lower as you add more and more people to a house. With the money you save from rent, it seems many students logically conclude that living with a group of friends and paying a bit extra to have consistent activities, events, philanthropies, and just general good times is an exciting idea. Lastly, many Greek communities are useful for networking. Chris Chipman wrote, “according to William Hageman of the Chicago Tribune, joining Greek life can connect you with “the network of former fraternity or sorority members in the business world”” (http://www.videtteonline.com/index.php/2013/08/21/anti-rush-think-before-you-go-greek/). Many influential people have and still are a part of Greek life at various places. For this reason, many students want to have access to this type of networking for jobs and career advancement after graduation. According to thefraternityadvisor.com, “Of the nation’s 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity men. 85% of the Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity. 40 of 47 U.S. Supreme Court Justices since 1910 were fraternity men. 76% of all Congressmen and Senators belong to a fraternity. Every U.S. President and Vice President, except two in each office, born since the first social fraternity was founded in 1825 have been members of a fraternity. 63% of the U.S. President’s Cabinet members since 1900 have been Greek” (http://thefraternityadvisor.com/greek-life-statistics/).
Most people think that the life of Greek students is all about drinking and partying. Some Greek communities live up to those poor views. According to Chris Chipman, “On the other hand, joining Greek life can have disastrous effects on a student’s confidence; sense of self-worth; individualistic morals and beliefs; and bank account. Most people have heard at least one horror story of Greek life hazing. Hazing can include verbal and physical abuse, forcing hopeful members to use mass amounts of drugs or alcohol or participate in unwanted sexual acts and many other disturbing punishments in order to gain “trust” (http://www.videtteonline.com/index.php/2013/08/21/anti-rush-think-before-you-go-greek/). So there are obviously Greek organizations who allow themselves to be infected by drugs and bullying. Common problems for such Greek organizations range from alcoholism and trips to the hospital for drinking too much to getting in trouble with the police and setting things on fire. I am in criminal Justice and we sometimes refer to fraternities and sororities as gangs. Almost every year you hear something in the news about someone’s getting in trouble with rape or a death involving lots of drinking and often times the stories are connected with Greek communities fraternities or sororities.
The main long-term benefit is when an alumina is already in a great job and they can help brothers get a foot in the door. Some bosses might not like having someone that was in Greek Life but some might have been in it themselves of even the same fraternity or sorority. Greek life isn’t just about the drinking and parties it teaches you how to work and communicate with people and better yourself by forcing you to be independent, responsible, and grow as a person. Some fraternities or sororities are social ones but there are some you can join that are academic related like a business fraternity, medical fraternity, or ethnicity related Greek community. Whichever someone may choose, they are trying to better themselves. The constant support that a Greek community provides in the forms of connections, scholarships, as well as just moral support, contributes to a person’s happiness. By creating an environment of support, progress, and striving to be better can bring out the best qualities in each Greek student.
As I stated before, I have been on both sides of the topic; starting off not liking them to now liking them and seeing how helpful they really can be. Greek life, just like anything else, has its pros and cons that effect how the campus looks and how well the student body can be represented. Sometimes it’s just one bad fraternity/sorority or even one bad person mess up the image of Greek life for everyone.