The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that Greek life is a controversial subject. Fraternity members have a history of committing sexual assault against female students. Hazing in fraternities has ended several young men’s lives. The organizations have a racist past. There is no denying that these issues deserve more attention and change must be made, but that does not mean the actual system needs to be abolished.
As a former member of a sorority, I have seen firsthand the advantages that these organizations can provide for members. Greek life has plenty of benefits, which is why I do not think it should not end. For one, it boosts your networking and social skills. During my time at the University of Connecticut, I heard stories from sisters who got jobs or internships simply because they had our sorority listed on their resume and automatically had a connection with the person hiring them because they were alumni of our sorority.
There are plenty of leadership opportunities as well. Members can be elected for the executive board or executive council, which has multiple positions that can allow you to develop new skills. One of these positions is vice president of philanthropy. This role allows the student to set up events that help the organizations fundraise for their national philanthropy. In Greek Life, each chapter has its own charity that they raise money for. During events for these charities, members can earn service hours which is another important benefit.
Another leadership position is the academic chair. Academic chairs monitor each sister or brother’s grades and can create incentives for members to earn high GPAs. Greek organizations also provide academic support through tutoring and they establish a minimum GPA all members have to meet in order to not be placed on academic probation.
In regards to reforming the system, there are several different policies colleges can put in place to change the current problems within organizations. For one, universities need to be stricter about their policies regarding hazing and sexual assault. While many have educated their students about speaking up as a bystander, bystanders are usually not present in the majority of instances regarding sexual assault. At AU, incoming undergraduate students attend the Empower AU program to learn about sexual behavior and risk reduction. There needs to be an increase in programs that teach students about situations where the perpetrator is an acquaintance or friend.
Another potential reform is bringing in more advisors to live in the Greek houses. Time Magazine states that there is only one supervisor for 750 students on average. Finally, another potential reform for all national chapters to put in place are policies that make the organizations more inclusive. For example, organizations can end the preference for pledges that have family members in the sorority or are alumni (otherwise known as legacies).
Some colleges have already begun to make reforms. At Cornell University, they have implemented a new policy where a security team checks on and off-campus properties for any violations. In addition, they have adjusted their recruitment to be inclusive and focus more on philanthropy. Pennsylvania State University has increased the amount of historically black fraternities and sororities on campus. They also have removed several fraternities that have violated their policies, while becoming stricter on hazing.
In regards to AU, while small changes have been made in one chapter on campus, all fraternities and sororities at American should make some policy changes and reflect on their reputation held by students. Chapters will struggle to find members and participants for their events if their current reputation remains the same. As a now outsider to the system, those within Greek life at AU should work towards making it a supportive environment.