Greek Life’s Exclusivity
As a student of a liberal arts school that does not have Greek life, I can only vouch for the reasons that led me to choose a school without it. I recognize that sororities and fraternities can be wonderful community fixtures at some schools, and provide lasting friendships for their members. However, it would be foolish to ignore the seemingly constant horrifying stories about rushing abuse and scandals associated with Greek life.
Greek life encourages exclusivity. Unlike sports teams, which have also been subject to much criticism and scandal, Greek life has no overarching purpose. Sure there is community service, but this is often mandatory and done begrudgingly. At their core, sororities and fraternities serve to create division on campus. Like sports teams, only some make the cut. However, when rushing, you are not judged on any sort of ability, unless you count social skills.
First, you must be able to pay to live in the Greek life house. This creates another socio-economic rift in the already privileged world of higher education. While many schools aim to promote diversity and inclusion through scholarships and financial aid, many students can feel disenfranchised if they arrive on campus and cannot equally participate in all groups due to lack of funds.
Greek houses also seem to constantly promote harmful stereotypes of masculinity. Without a common goal, it seems that many fraternities focus on sleeping with as many women as possible, and drinking. I can’t help but shudder when I think of the ways these groups contribute to rape culture—remember when a Yale fraternity marched around campus shouting “No means yes, yes means anal?” At a school like Yale you would expect students to be more educated, which makes it even more horrifying. To me, acts like this are the manifestation of the privileges fraternities support: the right to disrespect females (or any minority group for that matter) on campus because you have enough money to join a group with no clear purpose.
As a fitting counterpart, most sororities are examples of harmful internalized misogyny. Most sisters are picked on appearance, and its no coincidence that when you think of the typical sorority girl you think of a skinny blonde. In 2007, the Delta Zeta chapter of DePauw University had to defend itself to the press after inexplicably kicking out African American, Asian American, and overweight members. Countless former sorority sisters have spoken out about the pressures they felt to maintain their appearance.
While I realize that some sororities and fraternities do legitimately care about helping their communities, I cannot divorce them from the privilege needed to join them, and the long history of abuse of such. If you want to make friends for life—as most Greek organizations advertise—isn’t the best way to do so through a group with shared interests, not with shared wealth and appearances?
sources, in case you want to link them