Google any set of words including “fraternity” or “sorority” and you’ll likely encounter endless pages of criticism, ranging from huge lists of campus incidents, like this one from Bloomberg, to passionate denouncements of the entire fraternity system, like this piece from The Atlantic, but you won’t see much written about the positive impact fraternities and sororities have on their members and communities. Some people are even calling for universities across the nation to ban the system entirely.
That’s just how the news works, and I don’t really mind it.
If it bleeds, it leads, and American fraternities and sororities have given the media no shortage of juicy material for their stories. My own university is no exception: UH lost our chapter of Sigma Chi International Fraternity because of a hazing incident in May, the nature of which was the subject of wild speculation among campus Greeks. UH has lost several other organizations to hazing in the past, despite the best efforts of university and national fraternity officials.
Hazing, substance abuse, and sexual assault are real issues with Greek life nationwide, and any criticism we get as a system is unfortunately justified.
Having a national debate about issues surrounding Greek life is an important step in addressing the issues, and people who engage in dangerous and immoral behavior in the name of fraternity or sorority life should be denounced and punished.
At the same time, we should do our best to acknowledge members of the Greek community that truly live up to the values of their organizations.
According to research collected by the National Interfraternity Council and the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity, Greek-lettered organizations donate over $7 million and 10 million hours of volunteer service to charity annually. Fraternity and Sorority alumni are responsible for 75% of all money donated to universities. Members of Greek-lettered organizations are significantly more likely to graduate than their peers.
On a personal level, having the support network of my fraternity has motivated me to keep working towards my goals in school, professional and social development, and even personal fitness. On top of that, it’s made my college experience much more FUN. I’ve had opportunities to see places and do things that would’ve never presented themselves to me without my fraternity.
Despite all the problems, there is a lot of good being done by fraternities and sororities. Let’s focus on developing practical solutions to our problems instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.