Greek Life has taken on a new set of characteristics after appearing in news stories, social media, and pop culture. Though the vast majority of fraternity and sorority members will graduate from college relatively unscathed, there are extreme examples of neglect and bullying. The most common form of bullying in Greek organizations is hazing, which is particularly prevalent during the new member period. Hazing is defined as “ any act that, as a condition for group membership, humiliates, intimidates, abuses or endangers any person — regardless of the person’s consent to participate.” In the past couple of decades, campus and state authorities have worked hard to identify and cut down on hazing. For instance, police are currently investigating if hazing played a role in the death of a Pennsylvania State University fraternity member in February 2017. The Beta Theta Pi pledge passed away in the fraternity’s on-campus house after he drunkenly fell down a staircase and was not given medical attention for twelve hours.
News stories like this leave students questioning whether or not it is worthwhile to join Greek organizations, but the decision is based off of much more than news reports. Each campus culture differs from the next, and within each campus, each organization differs as well. While there are fraternities and sororities that do haze, there are plenty that do not condone hazing. Additionally, it is important to disclaim that fraternities’ and sororities’ operations vary greatly from one another. Men and women respond differently to joining Greek Life because they have their own distinct recruitment processes, traditions, and membership experiences. This can make the topic of Greek Life involvement difficult to study because every organization on each college campus fosters a unique sense of community.
The Greek Life system at Elon University is special in the sense that potential new members (PNMs) do not rush until the spring, meaning first-year students have time to learn about the different communities that each organization fosters. Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) at Elon consists of approximately 40% of the student body. Three of the five us are sorority members on Elon’s campus, but all five of us have had first hand experiences and interactions with FSL. Therefore, we have chosen to keep our responses anonymous. The decision for anonymity has been reached because we feel uncomfortable exposing our true reactions if they associated with our actual identity. Anonymity allows us to tell the truth without fear of hurting our organization’s reputation or offending peers that are both affiliated and non-affiliated. The responses below are based off of factual evidence, but we also incorporate our own experiences which can be sensitive information to publish. Elon University is progressive about handling FSL issues, but it can be difficult to speak up, either for or against these organizations, when the campus is so polarized on the topic.
The palpable polarization on FSL has inspired us to cover the topic of joining Greek Life. A PNM in college today will often see two sides of Greek Life: the shiny, surface-level pitches by organizations, and the vicious rumors that tend to circulate behind closed doors. Based on these presentations of fraternities and sororities, it can be difficult for a PNM to decide if joining Greek life is the right decision. The responses have all taken unique stances on whether or not an individual should join Greek Life in hopes of providing clarity to future PNMs.
Anonymous Sorority Member: Potential Members Must be Informed
Anonymous Unaffiliated: The Cost of Greek Life
Anonymous Sorority Member: Analyze the Facts
Anonymous Student: High Costs
Anonymous Sorority Member: Greek Life Breeds Leaders