Going to college is often regarded as one of the most developmental periods of a person’s life. It’s where they develop connections and acquire knowledge and experiences that they will always reflect upon. One of the most important aspects of university is the social experience.
One of the most rewarding ways to have the social experience during your undergraduate career is to join a sorority or a fraternity. Greek organizations provide students with a consistent social group, as well as a lifelong brotherhood or sisterhood that is constantly growing. However, the social aspect of Greek life, the aspect that is most often presented on the media, doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the benefits Greek life presents to students.
It provides them with opportunities to volunteer with people they’re comfortable with, introduces them to wonderful national philanthropies and provides guidelines that will assist them in developing professionalism and character traits they wouldn’t have been exposed to outside of Greek life.
As a brother of Sigma Pi, I can say the organization has impacted my life in an astounding manner. It has taught me the benefits of being a member of an international organization that offers countless opportunities both inside and outside of the fraternity itself.
Being a member of Valpo’s Greek life as a whole has also given me memories I will never forget, whether it be social events with other Greek organizations, philanthropic fundraisers and events like Greek Olympics. All of these occur on campus and are hosted by fraternities and sororities. They show Valpo’s welcoming Greek community.
As someone who has had nothing but positive experiences in Greek life, it breaks my heart hearing that Greek organizations across the United States are receiving a negative image based on the actions of the few Greek organizations that choose to act irresponsibly. The recent examples are the fraternity life at the University of Michigan, which has had all social events put on an indefinite suspension, and Florida State University’s entire Greek life, which has been placed on an indefinite suspension. The suspension at UM happened after several drug and alcohol incidents, sexual misconduct and hazing allegations, while Greek life was placed on suspension at FSU after a fraternity member died.
My qualms don’t arise from the organizations that were found guilty having to face the consequences of their actions, they come from Greek life as a whole being punished for the actions of a complete minority. And as a cause of this, hundreds of students are missing out on the plethora of benefits that come along with Greek life.
From the time people are kids, they’re taught to admit when they’re at fault so others don’t have to face the same punishment, yet even when the organizations who are guilty of these atrocities own up to their mistakes, all of Greek life takes the blame. This isn’t fair to the students who have given 100 percent of their effort to improve either their sorority or fraternity at their respective universities and haven’t committed crimes. This brings up the issue of college students who compose and view themselves as young adults, yet are still often viewed and treated by others as if they were children.
The students who are a part of these suspended organizations won’t be the only ones impacted by the Greek life suspension. The communities in which they live, the philanthropies they donate to and the alumni of these fraternities and sororities will feel the impact as well.
According to the North-American Interfraternity Conference, fraternity men alone served 3,800,000 service hours in their communities and raised $20,300,000 for philanthropies during the 2013-2014 school year. This doesn’t even take into account the amount of money donated or the service hours performed by sorority women. When universities choose to place the consequences intended for the few on all of the Greek community, they aren’t the only ones who are impacted, it’s our society as a whole.
The stigma that surrounds Greek life isn’t perpetuated by the organizations themselves--it’s pushed by the media, which only chooses to report on the very small amount of fraternities and sororities who reinforce the stereotypes the media has cast upon Greek life.
Rather than reporting on events such as a sorority’s philanthropic event or a fraternity’s intramural season, the mainstream media only desires eye-catching stories that are gruesome, rather than “Greek organizations unite for a good cause.” This negative press that is being set possibly hinders the recruitment future of Greek organizations and the future of Greek life itself.
My fraternity has changed my life for the better, and I know it also has for the millions of people around the world who have been and still are a part of a fraternity or sorority. Greek life molds men and women into professionals that are well-rounded in character and values that they will carry on into their future career. Brothers and sisters of fraternities and sororities all over the world are shouting for just and fair treatment, myself included, and only time will tell if these shouts are heard.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.