Greek life has long been a subject of debate. While most acknowledge the historic abuses the system has allowed, there is disagreement about how best to remedy systemic issues. Some say reform can bring about a more equitable Greek life, while others believe the only answer is to dismantle fraternities and sororities.
Zurowski: Reformation, not abolition
Greek life offers so much to students. Chapter houses become a home away from home and members become like family. Greek life offers students a community that supports, encourages and challenges them throughout their college career and after.
A lot of challenges have arisen for me during my college experience that would have looked drastically different without my sorority sisters. My sorority provides me with love, grace and support throughout the ups and downs. The point of Greek life is to provide a loving community that supports students through all that comes with being in college.
Greek life also supports the community by mandating that members perform community service and chapters sponsor a nonprofit organization. Each chapter holds philanthropic events every year to raise funds for their chosen nonprofit.
It’s no secret that Greek life has been and continues to be problematic. It has a deep and ugly history of elitism, racism and sexism. However, many fraternities and sororities recognize their place in perpetuating these ills. They’ve therefore committed to fixing the broken system by updating regulations at the chapter and national levels.
I believe that any individual organization that ignores their part in perpetuating discrimination and refuses to fix it now must be abolished, but Greek life as a whole is not beyond redemption; it isn’t perfect, but most chapters are committed to fix what is unjust and discriminatory to continue building communities for students based on shared values of respect, friendship and philanthropic service.
Aghel: We no longer need Greek life
We must remember what Greek life was born out of; it was an institution designed for White males to lavishly party while institutionalizing systemic advantages in higher education. Predicated on Black exclusion, White men were able to socially and economically benefit and protect this legacy as rich alumni.
Today, regardless of fraternity or sorority — though we should acknowledge that the issues of sexism and abuse are far less prevalent in sororities — the institutionalization of privilege persists. Of course, we all know that Greek life does philanthropy, but no one joins Greek life to volunteer — there are better ways to do that. They join for the camaraderie and the revelry. While inside they are brotherhoods and sisterhoods, there are certain barriers that prevent many from participating. People of Color and those who cannot afford the astronomic costs are generally unable to participate.
If we acknowledge these foundational issues, then the institution has no place on campus. Sexual assault, hazing and overdoses continue to plague Greek life despite the small slaps on the wrist universities administer. These unlimited instances of abuse belie Greek pledges to remedy systemic problems.
Of course, there is a need for groups and events outside of campus for students to engage and participate in — that is a part of the college experience. But that no longer needs to be Greek life. It could be a more inclusive and accessible design that is not rooted in oppression. Other schools have begun the process of abolishing and replacing Greek life. It’s time we do so too.