After reading the news reports about the hazing incidents that have occurred at universities around the United States I can’t help but think, where did Greek life go wrong? Between recruiting new members and philanthropy events, where did we go wrong?
Greek life has been portrayed in the media as a club that participates in excessive drinking, partying and illicit drug use. Movies and TV shows have portrayed these fictional organizations to be participating in these activities almost everyday of the week. Fictional sororities are shown to be ridiculing their members; fraternities are shown to be beating their members senseless. Although some of the activities that have come to light in the news mirror what has been portrayed in movies and TV shows, not all Greek life systems are the same.
The tragedy that occurred at Florida State University is not excusable; the loss of life due to binge drinking is never something that can be downplayed. In response FSU has suspended all Greek life, sororities and fraternities, until further notice. President John Thrasher said “For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek Life at the university…There must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it”
I agree with Thrasher however, it’s not just the students that have to participate in this “new culture” it’s everyone: faculty, staff, administrators and students need to work together in order to ensure accidents like these don’t happen again. This cultural change means reporting all incidents of hazing and stricter monitoring over Greek activities. But this type of change is something that needs to go beyond the university, society needs to stop portraying Greeks as kids that binge drink and smoke marijuana all day. When sororities and fraternities were founded in the early 1800’s their intention was not to party all day but to make a difference in society and to enrich the lives of others. I feel as though we have lost sight of that and Greek life has become they eye sore of universities across the United States.
There is no new rule or sanction that can create a new culture among Greek life, this new culture needs to be created by breaking down the stereotype of being Greek and actively participating in creating a new relationship between the university and Greek life. It’s very rare to find a headline that outlines the good aspects of Greek life and not the negative. Like how over $7 million is raised nationally by Greeks or how college graduation rates are 20% higher than non-Greeks and over 850,000 hours are volunteered by Greeks nationally.
I am proud to call myself a Panhellenic woman. I am proud to be a part of an organization made up like-minded individuals who hold me to a higher standard and encourage me to be the best version of myself. I understand that there needs to be a change in the Greek life system, but this change is not one sided, it needs to be a community effort.