Disclosure: I was in a fraternity in college. Further disclosure: It was one of the best decisions I made in my four years on campus.
The common reaction to my fraternity membership is to dismiss Greek life as at best a childish indulgence and at worst a semi-destructive force. The latter view took center stage in a recent Bloomberg View editorial with the blunt headline “Abolish Fraternities.”
There’s no doubt that there are bad things happening at fraternity houses across the country. At least one hazing death every year for the past 43 years is very scary statistic, and one that needs to be addressed. But what seems to be the core of Bloomberg’s argument — that Greek life is at odds with a college’s “mission” — is a simplified and partial view of the undergraduate experience.
Not only that, but the Bloomberg editorial often presents misleading and sometimes flat-out wrong information. Greek life has some amazing benefits for students that choose to join a house — moreso than just easy access to parties and booze — although it is crucial to note that this may not be the right social outlet for every student.
That said, here’s why it’s important to have fraternities and sororities on campus:
Fraternity culture is actually less hostile to women
Contrary to the popular view of frat boys as, well, frat boys, a recent study from Loyola University New Orleans found that non-affiliated students actually had more threatening attitudes toward women. “Hypermasculinity — defined as ‘an exaggerated adherence to traditional male gender role beliefs’ — was generally a predictor of sexual aggression for all men except those in fraternities,” Inside Higher Ed reports.
According to IHE, this may be due to sexual consent, assault, and alcohol abuse education that many fraternity chapters make mandatory for members.
Greeks on average have higher GPAs
In the Bloomberg View editorial, the authors write “fraternity members tend to have lower grades … compared with their nonmember peers.” This is wrong.
As this helpful guide from Total Frat Move shows, frat boys actually have higher GPAs than non-affiliated students at a majority of schools across the country. And that’s not just for the men — here are a few schools where the overall Greek community is getting higher marks.
More specifically, a study at the University of Nebraska found that “Greeks were more likely to have High than Low GPA’s and Independents were more likely to have Low than High GPA’s.”
Greeks are also considerably more likely to stay enrolled and graduate college
Another academic advantage for Greeks is a higher retention rate — students are more likely to stay enrolled at their college. A study from a group of Harvard University and Syracuse University professors found that joining a Greek organisation “had a dramatically positive effect on persistence to graduation.”
“90% of fraternity/sorority members compared to 70% of non-affiliated students were enrolled during their senior year,” they write.
Additionally, Greek students have a much higher graduation rate compared to their peers. According to USA Today, “college graduation rates are 20% higher among Greeks than non-Greeks.”
Greek life is becoming much more diverse
A common argument against Greek life — one that appeared in the Bloomberg editorial — is that fraternities and sororities are homogeneous, a claim that may have been true in the past but is actively changing now.
Probably the best example of this is the Greek community at the University of Alabama, whose racial segregation was uncovered by student newspaper the Crimson White last semester. After a series of revealing reports from the paper and student protests, several black women were offered — and accepted — membership into previously all-white UA sororities.
For another perspective, check out this great guest post in BroBible from a self-styled “Gay Bro,” who notes, “A lot has changed in the past 10 years.”
Joining a Greek organisation can help fight loneliness and depression
For many students, leaving home to go away to college can be difficult because you’re separated from your family and close friends for the first time. To combat this, experts suggest socializing as a means to avoid depression.
As the Nebraska study cites another paper that found that “students that entered the Greek system had larger support systems and more friends than students that chose not to. This can impact a student by preventing feelings of loneliness.”
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