CONTENT WARNING: This article contains mentions of sexual assault. Please use caution before reading.
Greek Life has fostered an inherently problematic culture built on a foundation of historical elitism.
I would first like to say that participating in the corrupt system of Greek Life does not make someone a bad person.
While members are complicit in allowing these power structures to continue, they do not inherently perpetuate violence in the way participants in other institutions of oppression do.
Still, fraternities and sororities were always meant to represent exclusivity. The very fact that you must pay to join immediately puts several groups at a disadvantage due to the complicated nature of class oppression.
If you consider the concept of a selection process and rushing, the message is clear: keep certain people out.
Because the majority of Greek Life organizations were created before people of color were even allowed to attend college, the institution is specifically designed for (rich) white people.
Even though higher education eventually began to desegregate, many groups were still legally allowed to have blatantly racist bylaws and “whites only” policies.
Now you have clubs where generations of rich white people are the only ones allowed to join.
Does a change in policy and gradual integration truly undermine the structures at play? What about when those same privileged people are the ones deciding what traits they find desirable in new members?
The result, according to Princeton University, is that 73% to 77% of Greek Life participants are white.
Systemic discrimination at the hands of Greek Life does not end with some groups being excluded from parties and gatherings.
Alan Desantis, a professor at the University of Kentucky, notes in his 2007 book about Greek Life that 85% of the United States Supreme Court once belonged to a fraternity or sorority. Eighty-five percent of fortune 500 business executives and 76% of senators did the same. Only 2% of the US population participated in Greek Life.
This means that because of the social exclusivity associated with Greek Life, minority groups have less of a voice in government. It is but one tributary flowing into the large river of systemic oppression in the United States.
Aside from the toxic infrastructure, Greek Life has harbored a horrific culture of sexual assault and hazing.
We all know there are frats designated as “rapey” or unsafe. It is extremely normalized. There are viral jokes and memes about never taking your eyes off your drink at a frat party. It is ingrained into college life.
Hazing also goes extremely far. There are numerous stories and anecdotes I’ve heard about these organizations (mainly fraternities) forcing their new members to ingest poisonous amounts of alcohol, withstand physical violence and even consume feces.
Some organizations even combine the two, making sexual assault a conquest one must fulfill before they are accepted into the group. To my knowledge, this has never occurred at this university.
There are statistics on these things as well. One in five women are sexually assaulted in college. Fraternity members are 300% more likely to rape someone. The list goes on.
However, there is simply not enough room in The Rocket to list them all.
I conclude by stating that the system of Greek Life is not broken. It works exactly as intended.