Sorority and fraternity life has become a major part of the college experience. With over 750,000 members and around 9 million alumni, Greek life continues to thrive at colleges around the United States. Membership varies around the U.S., depending on the region that the college resides in. Southern schools often have a higher percentage of students in sororities and fraternities and a more competitive recruitment process.
Greek life has been portrayed commonly by Hollywood and by the media as a negative experience full of hazing, bullying, constant partying, ruined academics and sexual assault. Due to this inaccurate portrayal, sororities and fraternities have been ostracized and criticized by the public. However, there are many positive outcomes from joining a sorority or fraternity.
Greek life can offer many important experiences and opportunities to its members and alumni. In terms of career aspects, over 50% of alumni said they had a job two months after graduation compared with 36% of unaffiliated graduates. This is due to factors such as experience in leadership roles, developing necessary people skills and a support network within their chapters. Members also obtain experience in building resumes, volunteering, social networking and learning how to maintain balance in their schedules.
This is not to say that there are no issues within Greek organizations. In fact, acknowledging these issues is an important part of Panhellenic reform. As stated before, membership varies at different colleges throughout the U.S., which also means Greek life differs based on the college. Certain governing bodies and councils, specific to individual colleges, have the responsibility to oversee and maintain positive aspects of Greek organizations. Because governing powers vary from college to college, Greek life does as well.
Taylor Andrews, a current member of Alpha Chi Omega at Arizona State University, has also witnessed issues in Greek life at her university. “Rape culture is still a serious issue. I know girls who have been drugged at fraternity parties,” Andrews said. There is a double standard, she believes, in which sororities rely on fraternities for social gatherings due to the fact that sororities have stricter rules while fraternities are more lenient.
“It's old-fashioned,” Andrews states. “Fraternities then have full control over what goes in their drinks.”
Kayla Hoffman, a former member of Alpha Omicron Pi at Illinois State University, has also had her share of struggles as a member in Greek life. She went into the sorority rush process with an open mind and open heart, hoping to find her home in an organization. However, during a pandemic and a presidential election, her simple political opinions caused a stir. Members of her chapter ostracized and bullied her.
“You would think that an institution that supposedly runs on ‘fairness’ and ‘inclusion’ wouldn’t have treated me in such a way, but they did,” Hoffman said. She watched other members get treated the same and saw minimal diversity in her chapter. She left her Greek experience feeling like inclusion and diversity in members was a false advertisement.
In contrast, Ohio University Greek life has done an amazing job promoting diversity, inclusion and safety, while creating positive experiences within the community. OU works through many different governing bodies to make sure its Greek members have a positive experience. OU also has the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life, who claims they work in partnership with students to “foster a positive, ethical, healthy and equitable social values-based experience for all members of our community.”
Due to the work of the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life and the organizations it pairs with, OU has made its Greek life one of the best in the country. The resources that OU gives its students in Greek life provides a positive and important experience, which in turn, leads to better job opportunities, life skills, and social networking. OU Greek life is one of the best ways that students can advance and improve their future.
There are many different organizations around the country that work to promote safety, inclusion and an overall better experience for students who are in sororities and fraternities. For example, the National Panhellenic Conference declares itself an advocacy and support resource for women in sororities, while the Interfraternity Conference works to maintain an inclusive and safe environment for men in fraternities. The Anti-Hazing Coalition works in tandem with the NPC and the IFC to eradicate hazing in Greek life, and the ALFV exists to progress sorority and fraternity values and to end sexual assault within the panhellenic community.
Before joining Greek life, it is important to do research and make sure your college works with these resources. Greek life has the potential to advance a student’s college experience and set them up with important life skills. Ultimately, colleges have the power to influence change and progress in terms of inclusion and diversity while ending rape culture and hazing within the Panhellenic community. It is important to end common misconceptions about the community while acknowledging that there is still room for reform work.
Katie Trott is a junior studying creative writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Katie by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.