Last month, Wesleyan University announced that all of the school’s fraternities would have to accept female members, or be forced to close.
The move towards gender equality in traditionally all-male national fraternities is not unprecedented. While many schools have simply removed Greek life from campus if it becomes a serious enough problem, Wesleyan is following in the footsteps of fellow Connecticut school Trinity College, which in 2012 ordered its fraternities and sororities to go co-ed.
Although progress has been less concrete than initially anticipated — the original plan called for 15% of the minority gender in each organisation by October 2014 — the college still hopes to remove any gender disparity from their Greek houses. However, all seven of the school’s single-sex Greek houses remain as divided as they were before the co-ed mandate in 2012.
A wide-ranging report in 2012 from the school’s Charter Committee — which had been charged to imagine what Trinity would look like in 2023, its 200th anniversary — found that “when we look at the fraternity and sorority population at Trinity in isolation, it is apparent that they stand apart from their Trinity peers.” The distinctions were predominantly negative.
Here’s three reasons why Trinity pushed their fraternities and sororities to go co-ed:
Reputation And Retention
Trinity’s Greek culture may have affected both the students applying for admission and the school’s ability to keep its best students. According to the report, evidence from the Trinity admissions office suggests “there is a link between Trinity which is represented in the social media as having a party school reputation, and the decline in the quality of our applicants … With respect to quality, the proportion of applicants given the highest ratings by the Admissions Office has declined over the past ten years.”
Additionally, the report states, there is a declining yield in top quality applicants, especially female students — “Not surprisingly, Trinity’s student body has a lower proportion of females than comparison schools.”
The top rated applicants who do end up attending Trinity are more likely than other students to transfer out of the school, according to the report, citing “the lack of academic seriousness among other students and an uninspired social scene.”
Greeks Get Worse Grades
While the report notes that this does not apply to every member of Trinity’s Greek system, “the cumulative grade-point average of fraternities and sororities is consistently below the College average,” with a notable negative effect on GPA connected to pledging a house during a student’s sophomore year.
“Once an individual pledges and experiences this dip in GPA, on average, they never catch back up to their peer group GPA at Trinity,” according to the report.
In the chart below, you can see how Trinity Greeks’ GPA diverges from the rest of the student body:
Drugs And Alcohol Are More Of A Problem For Greeks
While the Trinity report notes that alcohol and drug use is increasing among students over the past decade, the problem is “far more severe among members of fraternities and sororities.”
According to the report, “The average member of a fraternity or sorority is disproportionately more likely to drink and use drugs than the average Trinity student.” High levels of drinking and drug use, the report found, leads to “risky behaviour” such as “blacking out (i.e., being unable to remember what they were doing), drunk driving, assaults, fights, harassment, ambulance transports, and sexual assault.”
Trinity Greeks’ lower average GPA — noted above — may also be linked to the high levels of drinking for fraternity and sorority members, according to the report.
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