The recent incident of overtly racist chants by Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma has sparked some controversy about fraternities. This recent event is just the latest in a string of incidents leading people to debate whether the Greek system is inherently abusive.
The Greek Tradition
Fraternities and sororities are a long-standing college tradition, and many graduates find their memories of frat house shenanigans among their fondest.
Fraternities and sororities can benefit members by providing a supportive social group of peers. However, the exclusive nature of these social circles is arguably exclusionary as well. This can lead to a sense of superiority over others, as evidenced by the recent events at the University of Oklahoma.
A Tradition of Abuse?
Hazing rituals, while officially banned, are a well-established component of the Greek system. Rites of initiation are one thing, but all too often, these rites escalate into behavior that is harmful to the pledges or other people. From forced overconsumption of alcohol to “voluntary” branding of the skin, hazing rituals are sometimes so damaging that many people wonder why anyone would want to be part of such a system.
According to Bloomberg Data, more than 60 people have died in fraternity-related incidents since 2005.
Why then, do students continue to embrace these seemingly abusive traditions? Many young people feel that their membership in the right sorority or fraternity will result in social success at college, and help them obtain their job of choice after graduation. Data doesn’t appear to support this, but the impression remains among many college freshmen.
Should Colleges Ban Fraternities and Sororities?
The growing number of unpleasant incidents is leading some fraternities to end the pledging rituals that lead to many hazing-related deaths, and some colleges have moved to ban fraternities altogether.
What do you think? Are fraternities out of control? Does the system encourage bad behavior and pose a threat to campus safety? Should colleges ban these organizations, or can a strict set of rules be enforced to keep the Greek tradition in place while protecting the campus community? Feel free to sound off with your opinion on my Facebook page.