Friday, December 15, 2017

On Greek Life

Greek life is toxic.

That's the joke I throw out every now and then when discussing the many negative aspects of Fraternity/Sorority life with friends. The list is long: it's heteronormative, promotes gender roles, and acts as a nesting ground for extreme alcoholism, drug abuse, sexism, racism, homophobia, you name it.

This is a joke when I say it because I am part of Greek life. I joined a Fraternity in the middle of my freshman year because it seemed like the natural next step and all of my friends were rushing. I knew about all of these elements going into it but mostly brushed them off with some cute ideology that we would "be better".

Every time a kid is forced to drink himself to death while pledging his fraternity or every time privileged frat bros commit a hate crime or sexual assault, my chest feels hollow and I am inclined to reflect on what this institution is and why it can be so damn terrible.

I try to think of the positives when overwhelmed with the negatives, especially when I consider my place in Greek life. As advertised, Greek life is supposed to provide an instant social life/party scene, lifelong friends, philanthropy events, and just general... I don't know popularity? Like we're in middle school. 

So we have those few positives (which are only more or less accurate) combined with the wall of negatives. You have kids dying and people getting raped balanced out with... brotherhood. That doesn't sound worth it. When you look at it like that, abolishing Greek life seems like the easy solution. 

I don't think joining a fraternity makes a person ignorant or hateful. I do think that ignorant or hateful people can find Greek life attractive, just by its inherent structure designed to benefit the privileged. If every school everywhere banned Greek life, nothing would really change. If anything, these organizations would operate underground or in another way in which they would be less regulated/overseen by the schools. 

So what is there to do here? The easy solution isn't really a solution at all; it's simply a rebranding and displacement of the same issue. The best thing, to me, is to work with the organizations as they are: educating students, eliminating bias and any lack of understanding regarding sexual consent. Progress can be painfully slow but progress is progress. My hope in Greek life lies in the people who are aware of the flaws of our respective fraternities and sororities. 

-- Rudolph

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