It’s All Greek to Me: the Positive and Negative Benefits to Fraternity and Sorority Life in College


Mira Constantino, Junior Staff Writer

Frat boys and sorority girls: just about everyone knows what they are and what they’re known for. The stereotypes surrounding Greek life organizations, better known as fraternities and sororities, are infamous, but are they worth joining? More often than not the organizations have been around since the time the school itself was founded, and are more common in larger schools. So this is something positive to consider–these are long established “institutions” on most college campuses. 

Fraternities and sororities coined the term, ‘Greek life,’ because each group was named after a series of letters from the Greek alphabet. For example, some of the more common of these are the largest fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and the largest sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. 

As high school students graduate and enter the college acceptance process, they are introduced to many different extracurricular opportunities. Many are tossed into an adult or “real world” environment without much of a comfortable transition. This is where Greek Life finds its appeal. 11th grade student, Sophie Murphy, says, “I would join a sorority because it would make the transition into college easier. It would also give me people to lean on if I needed help with anything.” Truly, friendships are formed through these societies that can last a lifetime. 

Each and every Greek organization is different, but their main goal remains the same: to create a close knit and family-like community to aid students in all situations throughout college, mold young adults into civilized citizens, fabricate a ‘family’ for the students, and assist in giving them an advantage in their careers and in society. Each of the fraternities and sororities instill the idea of brotherhood and sisterhood very strongly, and expect all members to keep these bonds even after graduation. These bonds between undergraduates and graduates give the current members a leg up in creating important connections and paving the way towards a successful career. 

There are two different types of Greek Life organizations: social and academic. Academic fraternities and sororities have a more studious focus for the members. It’s a great opportunity to join an organization that helps students meet like-minded others and create bonds. Social fraternities and sororities are more commonly represented throughout the media. They are built to focus more on extracurricular activities. These groups hold many different charity events, volunteer opportunities, parties, and other social gatherings. 

To be recruited into either type of organization, students must attend what is called, ‘rush week.’ This is where students go to different fraternities or sororities on campus and become acquainted with the current members. Once the week is over, each sorority and fraternity gathers to decide those to whom they want to extend a bid, or invitation to join. Then the new members choose which organization’s bid to accept, and they join the pledge process. This process can range from a couple weeks to an entire semester. During this time, newbies become accustomed to the values, traditions, and events while getting to know the members better. After this, they are initiated through different traditional rituals held by each organization. 

Each fraternity and sorority also offers a house for the members to live in. Dues, and in some cases rent, is paid annually both for the house and to be a part of the organization. Costs and expenses are a large factor of what must be accounted for when considering joining.

 The overall costs for undergraduates with a Greek membership are more expensive than students without. The dues for the membership itself average at about $20 to $200 per semester, states online sources. Some of the more prestigious chapters (chartered fraternity or sorority) can cost up to five figures in dues. There are also added costs after joining. Members are expected to buy Greek life apparel, formal wear for mandatory dinners and social events, and the cost of tickets for these events is also expected to be paid for by the students. These expenses can definitely add up, but some groups offer financial plans or will even waive the fees for students who qualify for financial aid or scholarships. When it comes to housing, students do have to pay rent and tend to the upkeep of the house, yet the majority of the time this housing option is cheaper than on campus living. 

While living in a fraternity or sorority house, every member is expected to follow certain rules and regulations. This is partly traditional to keep an upstanding reputation for the organization, and also for the safety of its members. Some of the most common and important rules shared by every organization are: members’ social media is monitored and a modest online presence must be maintained; sororities are not allowed to throw parties, and no illegal substances are allowed in the houses; all members must maintain a 2.5 gpa; each member must memorize the Greek alphabet, etc. These rules are strict and can result in harsh punishment or fines if broken. The particular reason for this circumstance is that the organizations intend not to be taken lightly. Contrastingly, Greek life has been directly linked to substance abuse and reckless behavior. This generalized idea of joining a fraternity or sorority sounds like it could only be beneficial, but that can be deceiving. 

Overall, college students in general are considered to be a subculture, which deviates from societal norms yet still remains culturally acceptable. The newfound independence that comes with going to college is expected to result in processes of trying new things and sometimes even acting out. Some of the defining views and values of college students that differ from the rest of society include: excessive drinking, partying, and a peak in experimenting with drug paraphernalia and even sexuality. Yet Greek life organizations have been classified on their own as a separate subculture, beyond just being in college. These differing ideals have the ability to be both discouraging and encouraging when asking oneself if joining Greek life is really worth it. 

A Harvard University study showed evidence that, “4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers.” A substantial majority of 97% of fraternity members admit to drinking avidly, and 64% would label themselves excessive drinkers. These statistics not only affect those who are partaking, but the other fraternity or sorority members in their household as well. An approximate 83% of members report suffering as a result of a Greek brother or sister drinking. A study by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service reported more data proving, “Fraternities and sororities make headlines constantly for rape. 1 in 5 women experience rape or attempted rape in college, but among sorority sisters, 2 in 5 experience such trauma; incidentally, fraternity brothers commit rape at a frequency of 300% more than their non-fraternity peers.” About 50% or more of members were forced through hazing and other dangerous activities as well. This same study reported 70,000 cases of assault committed by fraternity members annually. While this data can be quite disheartening for incoming college students, the organizations do still have a number of benefits. So this leaves the question, is joining Greek life worth it?

Altogether, fraternity and sorority life isn’t for everyone. 11th grade student, David Williams says, “I personally wouldn’t join a fraternity because I want to focus on my degree instead of the inevitable partying.” The statistics linked to the infamous reputation of Greek life being a constant party are a logical reason to decide not to join. however, most students in college will come across this sort of lifestyle regardless, and to some students, partying can be a direct benefit. In some ways, Greek life does create a community to surround this lifestyle, rather than having to figure it out alone or with unreliable peers. The costs and expenses account for another large factor. Just about everything related to the college process is about the best fit for the student. College is designed to be a person’s opportunity to grow into him or herself as an individual. Students can still be doubtful of Greek life and give it a try. Rushing without ever pledging to a chapter is very common, and created to be an open place for exploring a new possible experience. 

Greek life is full of great traditions and can be a substantial opportunity if you see yourself aligning with the overall values and basis of it. Still, if it doesn’t sound suitable, college has millions of ways for students to find their niche and a group of people with similar interests. It is a place for students to personally customize their experience, so whether or not you decide to partake in Greek life, make sure to enjoy all that college has to offer!