Greek life conjures up a mixture of thoughts and sentiments. Some immediately think of John Belushi in a toga, while others may recall horror stories seen in the news detailing the deaths of young pledges and the many dangers of hazing.
Our nation’s understanding of fraternities and sororities presents an interesting paradox. On the one hand, Greek organizations are glorified in cinema and television. Movies like “Animal House” highlight a popular ideal of what it means to be a member of Omega Theta Pi.
However, this ideal is shattered when you open the newspaper on any given day and discover that the life of yet another 18-year-old has been lost to alcohol poisoning during pledge week.
The issue with this type of organization is that, while intelligent young men and women enter universities with the knowledge of how dangerous it is to participate in hazing, they are enticed by the glory and exclusivity of this particular scene. They abandon all rationale and follow any orders sent their way, so long as they have the chance to become a member of the Greek phenomenon.
I am sure that belonging to a fraternity or sorority comes with many benefits, but I must say Boston College's lack of Greek life drew me in. I remember visiting other schools in the area, such as Tufts, and being a little disappointed in how many members of my tour were infatuated with the idea of pledging.
Prospective students jumped at the chance to pose their questions concerning what it was like to be brother or a sister, or what it took to be a successful pledge. I wasn’t annoyed with the fact that these people were so curious about Greek life; I was more annoyed with the fact that I felt obligated to be equally interested in pledging.
It felt like the choice was beyond my control, as if it were insane to enter the university with no intention of becoming a sorority girl. And this is where I think Greek organizations fail.
How are students supposed to establish a sense of independence if the minute they leave their homes they are placed under the authority of a fraternity or sorority?
At Boston College students are given the chance to become men and women for their community; however, the type of commitments available to us are not meant to encourage exclusive or dangerous behavior.
We aren’t tested based on our willingness to be hazed but rather on our willingness to contribute our time, energy, and thought to intramural sports, campus periodicals, clubs devoted to raising awareness for social issues and much more. We are given the opportunity to seek out our interests, rather than buy into the hype of an organization.
I think that, more often than not, pledges are subjected to joining a fraternity or sorority because they are told that to become a member would be an honor, but this honor is rooted in heresay rather than individual thought. It is important for college students to make their own decisions instead of becoming silent members of a larger entity.
I had the chance to discuss Greek life with an old high school friend who now attends the University of Rochester in upstate New York. My friend not only refused to join a fraternity during his four years at Rochester, but openly states that they are useless.
“They seem pointless. Unless you're talking about minority frats, ‘cause they take their pointlessness very seriously,” stated Neal, a soon to be graduate.
This pretty much summarizes the direction of our conversation. Neal was positive that there were little benefits to pledging other than getting belligerent or making a fool of yourself.
This is just one opinion, I’m sure there are many who would argue that Greek organizations are a valuable component of college life. However, I think that students can make just as much progress within their university career without pledging.
I strongly believe that Boston College benefits from its refusal to allow Greek life because it promotes individuality while preventing unnecessary and excessive drinking, as well as other forms of hazing.
Life at Boston College is made simpler without the pressure of being a part of Greek life. Exclusiveness isn’t really a factor that prospective students must fear because all of our organizations are welcoming.
Let’s leave the toga parties to other universities and continue to excel in our own unique way!