Anonymous Student: Groupthink and its Consequences

Greek Life is absolutely not worthwhile for an individual to join. I cannot go any further in the paper without disclosing that I am incredibly anti-Greek life. This probably has to do with my upbringing, which was full of beautiful diversity. I went to a tiny quaker elementary and middle school, an all-Jewish college prep boarding high school, and now Elon University. I have always been surrounded with people that are different than me, respect me and my wishes, and accept differences in opinion, dress, and many other things. Everything about my upbringing is exactly the opposite of what it means to be in a Greek organization.

When studying the effects of Greek life on the teenage mind, a concept known as “groupthink” comes into play. Groupthink occurs when individuals who are similar in many respects (clothing, upbringing, native area, et cetera) live together, eat together, and party together. This leads to one way of thinking, one way of dressing, and one way of talking. No one wants to be the odd one out. No one to call another brother out for assaulting someone, no one to stand up to hazing. Groupthink is one of the lesser-known pitfalls of the Greek system.

There should be no justification for a system of organizations that has annual deaths from hazing. This is the most horrifying aspect of Greek life, for clear reasons. No one should be put through so much physical (and psychological) pain and torture that they lose their life, all to join a Greek organization. Many Greek pledges are forced to drink inhumane amounts of alcohol, and many other “foods” (pickles, spoiled mayonnaise) that lead to the detrimental effects on their bodies. Because a student felt the need to sacrifice their own well-being to prove himself “worthy to a group of other students, and for the organization, their mother and father, sisters and brothers, will have to live without him forever.

If annual hazing deaths alone do not show why it doesn’t make sense for a student to join a Greek organization, maybe excessive drug and alcohol abuse will. Almost all fraternity-hosted social events center around drinking. Most parties begin at or shortly after midnight, leaving ample time for attendees to go to “pre-games” where the objective is to get as intoxicated as possible, so they can go right to the event without losing their buzz. Not to mention, no fraternity social event is complete without an absurd amount of alcohol, including kegs, hard liquor, and a disturbing trend known as “party juice” or “bucket”, a mysterious and oft-drugged mixture of juice and alcohol. A typical night for a fraternity member includes binge drinking from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM, then continuing to drink at their event. This does not include the countless hard drugs that fraternities are abusing on a regular basis, a list that includes Adderall, cocaine, and Xanax.

Excessive binge drinking (a redundant phrase that oddly seems correct in this context) causes incredibly dangerous behaviors. These behaviors are largely due to the fact that according to an ASHE Higher Education Report, “the fraternity and sorority housing environment appeared tolerant of hazardous alcohol use and associated behaviors. … Efforts to reduce hazardous alcohol use on campus, such as campus regulations and educational programs, do not seem to affect fraternity and sorority members.” These alcoholic behaviors also lead to dangerous interactions between fraternity men and the females who attend their events.

There have been numerous instances of sexual abuse, that intertwines with excessive alcohol consumption more often than not. Many studies have shown the instances of sexual abuse at Greek social events is much higher than at non-Greek college social events. A study by the National Institute of Justice found that among factors that lead to sexual abuse, attending a fraternity party was a common one. Also, almost a quarter of sexual assault victims were members of a sorority, which is notable compared to the fourteen percent of non-Greek females that reported sexual assault. Along those same lines, and even more disturbing, the behaviors that would be considered “dangerous” red flags by a stranger, when done by an (often intoxicated) fraternity brother are considered playful, expected, or “joking” according to the same study.

My focus on fraternities is not unfounded. I am aware that sororities are different, and the case could be made that these two organizations should be studied independently. However, every sorority, by definition, associates with fraternities. Events are held together, many take part in each other’s annual philanthropy events, and many are friends with each other. Attending a fraternity event comes with every dangerous piece of data I have provided. Deciding to be a part of one of these organizations not only puts your life in danger, but it has monetary, physical, and psychological costs. High costs.