By: Nessa Purdy
As many students approach college applications and decisions, the question of whether or not to join Greek life looms among many students. In most colleges with Greek life programs, over one-third of the student population participates, and there are over 9 million Greek life alumni nationwide. While these organizations are becoming immensely popular, the downsides of becoming a fraternity brother or sorority sister are increasingly prevalent.
Most people have at one point or another seen headlines about horrific hazing incidents involved with fraternities or sororities. For instance, one former San Diego State University student, Benjamin Brennan, is suing Kappa Sigma for a hazing incident that occurred in 2021 that put him in a coma. As Brennan explained, members of the frat allegedly forced him to drink alcohol and consume drugs in “amounts that would literally kill most people.” Brennan’s is one of hundreds of horror stories that have resulted from intense hazing practices. In 2021, NBC reported that there have been over 50 hazing-related deaths since 2000. Not every fraternity or sorority is responsible for such serious hazing, but it is near impossible to ignore the implications and dangers surrounding Greek life culture.
Although fraternities and sororities have their benefits, the lifestyle these organizations promote are not only unhealthy, but damaging to student populations. One Harvard study found that four out of five members of fraternities and sororities are binge drinkers. Research further shows that many members of Greek life have higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse, and are at higher risk for alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). One study conducted by The Newport Institute revealed that 45 percent of students who lived in a fraternity house in college showed symptoms of AUD before they reached age 35.
Greek life not only promotes unhealthy relationships with alcohol, it also has clear ties with non-consensual sex habits. In a 2007 study by TIME magazine, men in fraternities are three times more likely to rape a woman than men who are not. Conversely, women in sororities are three times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault.
Not all Greek life institutions are tied to such negative practices, but the patterns simply are too prevalent. Many fraternities and sororities promote charity, offer decreased living costs, and foster a more unified college experience. The issues seen in Greek life are the effects of the habits and lifestyles we allow within colleges. Colleges across the nation need to confront the realities of their Greek life programs, and provide education and support for students in order to lessen the impact of these negative practices.
(Sources: Addiction Center, The Newport Institute,Times)