Another article about Greek life

81
3531

“Our frat isn’t like the others!” said every frat bro ever. This is just one aspect of the absurd communal-denial of the harmful culture of Greek life in which the entire Union community is complicit.

But this article isn’t addressing members of Greek life — most Greek students are so profoundly unable to listen to criticism that they simply aren’t worth addressing (just look at the inevitable tirade of comments at the end of this article). And they know that the Greek lobby is so powerful that Greek life is impervious to criticism.

It’s not that any individuals have genuine malicious intent; rather, the culture is based on such deep insecurity that its weak edifice is simply not allowed to be touched. But more on insecurity later.

This article is for three groups of people: people considering joining a frat, people who aren’t and faculty.

So, you’re thinking of joining a fraternity? I hear ya! You’re a year into college, and you’ve got some good friends, but the friendships don’t feel quite the same as the ones back home. These frats look kinda fun … and all the cool kids do it … and hey, who doesn’t want to be cool? Well here are seven reasons you shouldn’t give in:

1) Greek culture is based on insecurity. In a sentence, the message of fraternities is: Play by our rules and you’ll be accepted. And since it’s such a dominant part of the campus community, it seems like the only way to be truly accepted is to join a fraternity. The trouble is, the rules aren’t always worth following. The rules are often damaging to the individual, moral and intellectual character of students.

2) Fraternities homogenize interesting people. Fraternities haze pledges for a reason: to produce bros who identify strongly with the group. If you go through hell to join a frat, chances are you’re going to convince yourself it was worth it. The result is a group of people who all act, speak and think similarly, and who are totally fine with that fact.

3) Fraternities perpetuate misogyny and homophobia. Studies show that frat bros are more likely to commit sexual assault. Studies show that sorority girls are more likely to have eating disorders. And who can honestly say this surprises them? When has separating groups of people ever led to mutual understanding? In fraternities, girls are objectified. Pornographic posters cover bedroom walls. Who hooked up with whom is the perennial question in the mind of the frat-bro. And dancing is almost entirely a matter of boys grinding their crotches on girls’ behinds.

It’s never boys on boys or girls on girls, by the way. In fact, have you ever seen two guys hooking up in a frat? No? Isn’t that a bit odd? Ten percent of Americans are gay, yet we never see homosexual behavior in fraternities. That’s because of the culture of fraternities. If you’re part of a frat, you talk about which girls are hot; which girl sucked you off; how gay that professor is; you insult people by calling them faggots. Or if you don’t, then you don’t challenge people when they do. Who’s seriously going to feel comfortable being gay in that environment?

4) Fraternities’ exclusivism is gross.

5) Hazing is disgraceful. The U.N. defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering … physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted.” Torture methods include force-feeding, force-drinking, forced sexual encounters and sleep deprivation, all of which are used in frats, and everyone knows it. Sure, it’s not as bad as Guantanamo torture, but is that really a measure that frats wish to be considered by: ‘not as bad as Guantanamo?’

Also, the way ‘pledges’ are treated in day-to-day life shows utter contempt for human decency. They’re ordered about like slaves. And bros just laugh it off: “We also had to go through it.” “They can pull out if they want.” “They’ll be one of us soon enough.” None of these defenses justify this behavior.

Contempt for human decency is a direct result of hazing. Pledges become desensitized to this kind of cruelty. So when they deny that there’s a problem, they’re being sincere; they genuinely can’t see the issue.

6) It costs loads of money. Like hundreds of dollars! WTF?! First of all, why would you pay for this? Secondly, it excludes students who are financially less well-off.

7) The façade of charity is farcical. Criticize the frats and you’ll get the age-old reply: “We raise so much money for charity!” Well, great. No one’s complaining about charity. But if you want to do charity work, join a charity organization. Nobody faults frats for their charity work. We fault them for everything else: the hazing, the sexism and so on. Plenty of charity organizations get on just fine without being terrible in every other respect.

If you’ve decided not to join a frat, there are some things you can do to challenge the norms of Greek life.

First, challenge your Greek friends’ attitudes. Ask them if they think it’s OK to treat pledges as they do? Does the fact that pledges agree to it really make it OK? Or are they just agreeing because of social pressures?

Secondly, encourage your Greek friends to spend time outside of frats.

Thirdly, don’t be afraid to speak up against frats. I’ve spoken to lots of people who agree with me but they think there’s no point saying anything. “The frat lobby is so strong that nothing ever changes.” Well, nothing changes because people rarely speak up. If you think bros objectify women, say something. If you think pledges are mistreated, say something. I know it’s hard to speak up. Every time someone says something, they’re met with a tirade of abuse. I’m sure I’ll get the same. But the more people speak up, the easier it will become.

Fourthly, don’t go to fraternities. By going to frat parties you endorse Greek culture. Plus, there’s a reason that everyone there is so inebriated: because they’re shit parties. I’m no puritan, but it’s worth considering why frat parties are invariably such drunken affairs. It’s because they’re necessarily so. It’s not actually a good time to grind your crotch against someone’s behind while they look sort of awkwardly into the distance, avoiding eye contact with anyone. It’s empty and masturbatory.

The last group of people I’d like to address is faculty. I’ve spoken to a number of professors who agree with me but for a number of reasons won’t speak up. One told me they were warned not to speak up because they wouldn’t get tenure; such is the power of the Greek lobby. If this is true, it’s very damning. It’s unjust and opposes everything for which academia stands.

Other faculty members have told me they oppose Greek culture but don’t know how they can challenge it. Well, here are a couple of ideas. First, be open about your disapproval and speak up. If for nothing else, do so to show support for non-Greek students. Secondly, encourage the deans to do more. They’re the regulators of campus life, and they can affect this culture.

If you’ve gotten this far and you agree with me but think I’m being a bit polemical … well, you’re right.

I don’t think we should end Greek life; it has potential for a lot of good.

The imagined communities of Greek life reach far and beyond college campuses and could be invaluable in the wider world. The only reason frats exist in their current form is inertia. Nobody would propose the creation of a fraternity system like the one we have now.

Also, fraternities were originally designed as organizations where people discussed books censored by the government. How cool is that?! And Union is the mother of fraternities. So it would be a travesty for Greek life to end. It just needs to change.

One huge step might be for fraternities to go co-ed. It’s happened on other campuses and unsurprisingly, it profoundly undermines the misogynism.

Another step would be to end pledging. To me, it’s obvious that the way pledges are treated is horrible. It’s simply indecent to command other human beings as pledges are commanded. It’s one of the reasons that I think bros are impervious to criticism; if they can’t see that they’re mistreating pledges, they’ve been desensitized to human value in a way that one can’t argue with.

Anyway, let the tirade of abuse commence.

81 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for saying everything you just said. I’ve stayed away from Greek Life for exactly the reasons you outlined. I can say that it’s a better alternative to being in a Greek organization for me, but it is very isolating at times. I think that making Greek organizations more about becoming cultured, well-rounded people who genuinely respect people who aren’t the best looking, the most ripped, the biggest drinkers. (I know there are many in Greek life who would not describe themselves this way either, but this is what everyone that joins Greek life has to judge themselves against regardless).

    So, thank you for this. And to all you independents out there, it might not be as easy as joining Greek Life. But, like me, you’ll probably be better off for it and you’ll do just fine here.

  2. I am neutral on the fraternity subject but there are several flaws in your argument that I feel are unfair, or just flat out wrong. You clearly don’t go to the fraternities because there are several gay people in multiple fraternities, and theyre open about it. The first time I found out my friend in a frat was gay was when he started making out with another guy at a party! Also, you say Greeks lose their uniqueness and creativity, but most campus elected positions are held by Greeks, most athletic teams are made up by Greeks, even the Greek GPA is higher than the rest of campus. The reason I said I was neutral at the beginning is because I am not in a fraternity, but frankly I would be if I could go back. Being a senior its too late, but I too had a view like yours at the beginning, until my friends pledged and I saw what they are really all about and the great things it had added to their lives (not to mention the Schenectady community). I was treated no differently being in their house than a brother, and I loved everything about it. Clearly it is too late for you as well because like you say about Greeks feeling insecure and narrow minded, you are exactly that. So branch outside of your bubble and meet some people before you criticize something you know nothing about.

    • “I am neutral on the fraternity subject” – Yes, I can tell!
      “You clearly don’t go to the fraternities because there are several gay people in multiple fraternities, and theyre open about it.” – You’re right that I don’t go to fraternities any more. But you’re not really going to deny that there’s a problem of homophobia in Greek life are you?
      “even the Greek GPA is higher than the rest of campus” – presumably nothing to do with the fact that you have to come from a wealthier background in order to join?
      “I was treated no differently being in their house than a brother, and I loved everything about it.” – Maybe that’s why you were treated no differently. I was once in a frat house and saw pledging and I complained, and I was kicked out and banned from that fraternity.

      “Clearly it is too late for you as well because like you say about Greeks feeling insecure and narrow minded, you are exactly that. ” – Did you just ‘I know you are but what am I?’ me?

      • 1) Homophobia exists everywhere, all it takes is one ignorant person. And I will deny that cause why would houses accept openly gay people into it if they were homophobic smarty pants.
        2) You don’t need to be rich to join, some people don’t even pay dues and other more well off brothers help them (what fraternity is about). Plus GPA shouldn’t depend on money. If anything, Union accepts people who aren’t as smart if they can pay full tuition so your argument is completely backwards.
        3) No, he was saying that you are claiming that they are insecure, when you are the one who is actually insecure.

        • There is only one fraternity I have heard of that doesn’t require dues, and for those you are claiming don’t, they are more likely paying the same amount but over a longer time span so they can actually afford it.

          if you honestly think that money doesn’t affect GPA than you’re a dumb shit. Regardless of how hard a student tries, if they were given a better early education than that will carry over and affect their work in college more than a student from an impoverished area. Now if the latter student tries hard and studies more then sure they can easily surpass the ungrateful fuck who is wasting their daddies money, but don’t act like a kid who pays full tuition is inherently dumb when in all likelihood it is because they’re loaded and don’t deserve financial support.

          Also everyone’s claim that he is insecure because of what is a very honest view about greek life is unfounded and has no foundation. you making that statement highlights the fact that you can’t even produce a coherent thought to try and combat this idea about how bros and sisters are pressured into it and eventually think that there way of life is the most valid.

          • National private college statistics: 64% of those receiving aid have above a 3.0 GPA, while only 52% of those paying full are above a 3.0. Enough said.

            The dues comment was not that it isn’t required, because how does a house function without being able to pay nationals, philanthropy, brotherhood events, etc.? It is was that it is not a requirement to pay full dues, but instead pay what you can afford. if that means nothing, which has happened multiple times in my fraternity while I have been there, more fortunate people have helped pay for gaps in the budget if necessary for an event.

            After everything said, we come back to the issue of knowing your facts before you start speaking. Clearly you make it apparent that you are not involved in fraternity life, so don’t act like you know the inner workings of a house.

          • You aren’t tearing down his argument because of numbers. kids on support still could have had the opportunity to go to a decent school.

            effort doesn’t play into numbers so don’t act like a kid who is on support is gonna try the same as a kid who is wealthy enough for a full ride when they will probably work harder because they need to in order to keep their scholarships. dumbass

          • Please enlighten me on the scholarships at Union that depend on your grade? Oh yeah, they don’t exist. I know cause I made sure they couldn’t take it away and keep me here come Junior and Senior year where I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

        • “Homophobia exists everywhere, all it takes is one ignorant person. And I will deny that cause why would houses accept openly gay people into it if they were homophobic smarty pants.” – holy crap you’re so dumb it hurts. Take an anthropology or sociology class asap before you hurt someone (you’ve already hurt yourself by saying something so ignorant in a public forum, albeit anonymously). “Homophobia exists everywhere” is not a justification for a group to be homophobic. Also–just because you let someone into your group doesn’t mean homophobia is magically gone. I garuntee you a gay mans experience of frat life is full of microaggressions and “no homo’s”. It’s not okay and you can’t just brush it off with a poorly thought out, shitily constructed, and logically unsound comment ending with “smarty pants”. It’s pathetic and reductive. Grow the f*ck up. I’m a recent alum and expect more of Union students.

      • I wonder if you were kicked out because you were expressing opinions such as the ones in this article. I know I wouldn’t want to be associated with you now that you have belittled people that have done many great things for the campus community as well as the Schenectady community. You are no better than the ignorant people spreading homophobia and racism.

        • “I wonder if you were kicked out because you were expressing opinions such as the ones in this article.”

          You don’t need to wonder, he said that’s what happened. He was saying he didn’t like the pledging and that’s why he got kicked out.

          “I know I wouldn’t want to be associated with you now that you have belittled people that have done many great things for the campus community as well as the Schenectady community.”

          He’s not complaining about the good things, like charity work, that members of Greek life do. That’s addressed in the article. It’s #7 on the list.

          “You are no better than the ignorant people spreading homophobia and racism.”

          I don’t think you can really think that.

        • It isn’t charity work if you are forced to do it. don’t act like greek life is a saint because they raise money for something they barely participate in. If you care then actually join a non-for profit as a volunteer. Also I have heard that many students find ways out of it

          • Oh really, cause it’s not like a house event has to have 90% participation in order to say it is a house event and not a bunch of individuals. Also, nothing is forced on anyone. There is nothing that says we must do charity work.

            Plus, there are several brothers with extra time who do more volunteer work than just the house events. For christ sake there’s a sorority strictly based on community service smarty pants who knows everything. By the way, this is someone who has accumulated over 600 hours of community service work since beginning at Union. So take your bullshit and shove it right back up your own Ass!

  3. To the first GDI senior, there is a fraternity for everybody. The fraternities you’re referencing are the sports ones who of course are jacked and in shape. However, more than half of Greek life here cares about who you are as a person and what you do for the campus community. We don’t care what you look like because that is not what a fraternity is about.

    • More than half of what is available to the campus is often run by greek life itself and no GDI will feel comfortable trying to participate in something when they are clearly being excluded from the pay-to-play bros. Sports teams? Better man up and join the brotherhood. Student government? there is a whole section just for fucking greek life.

      Individual members are fine on their own, I have friends that are in greek life, but when the hormones rush and the music bumps I am more than ashamed to say that I know some of these people based on how they treat women and their fellow male students. As a senior why should I have to wait outside of a party for 20 minutes when women walk in as easy as butter on hot toast? The most likely case is because the brother at the door knows that 1 in 10 will probably get too drunk and be taken advantage of easily enough to suck someone off or get fucked. It is disgusting and disgraceful.

      Greek life makes me ashamed to be a man.

      • also if someone takes that 1 in 10 as an actual statistic then you don’t understand when someone is clearly trying to make a point about something of which there is no hard evidence for

      • No shit there is a specific section of the student government devoted to greek life. If there are rules, there has to be an entity there to enforce them and punish those who break them. Let’s just get rid of campus safety too if you think the greek council shouldn’t exist.

        Also, you have to realize that girls are also in sororities. Therefore 1 the party is with them, or 2 we know and are friends with them because of past parties. The same things happen when guys show up who are friends with people in the house. Don’t be so narrow minded and cry rape rape rape. Saying you’re a senior and not getting in to parties just shows that you are not involved on campus or even talk to people in class, both of which would lead to having friends in the houses you are going to party. I have at least one friend in every greek entity, and not because I am greek. I just meet people around campus.

        • You guys really do a great job enforcing your own policies when there are still plenty of sexual assault cases across campus and the country.

          And if you need to have friends to get into a party then that immediately plays into exclusivity, especially if you don’t want to befriend anyone in greek life just for the sake of benefits. So many classes with greek life kids, including trips abroad, lead to clique formation

  4. Mathew, while I agree with some of your argument, less than 2% of Americans identify as gay. I don’t understand how this demographic was supposed to add to your argument.

  5. “Every frat bro is the same!” said every non-frat bro ever. This is just one aspect of the absurd criticism those in Greek life face here at Union.
    Most students who participate in Greek life are not profoundly unable to listen to criticism, rather they are tired of listening to criticism coming from those who do not fully understand, and thus generalize, the organization they are criticizing. That is what your opening line does, it generalizes every fraternity, and every fraternity man at Union.

    1) To say that Greek culture is based on insecurity is not only a fallacy, but it is also very insensitive. Members of Greek life are strong, independent, they gain support from other members just as families gain support from each other. Greek students hold leadership position in almost every facet of the Union community, are leaders in class, athletics, and clubs. To say that Greek students are insecure is simply not true. It is insensitive to all of Greek life students to propose that our organizations are based on insecurity. Insecurity is a fact of life, especially when entering college, moving away from home and all you friends. Greek life is a great way to meet people, to make college feel a little less big, a way to give students a family away from home. If that gives students a little more security while they’re at school, then why is that a bad thing?
    2) Fraternity pledging is unique to every organization, I can’t speak to what they do as I’m not a boy, but I know that its’ not all the same, so once again you are generalizing every fraternity and every fraternity man on this campus. I’m not sure what fraternity brothers you have had long, meaningful conversations with, but as someone who knows a brother in every fraternity on campus, I can assure you that none of them are homogenized. If anything, they feel more comfortable being themselves as friends that have seen them at their worst surround them. Insecurity leads to homogenization, as people try to fit into molds that they think will make them feel more comfortable. As Greek students feel more secure at school, they are more comfortable being themselves.
    3) Now this topic. While I won’t argue that these statistics exist, I will say that at Union, this is not necessarily true. As a woman, I have never felt unsafe at a fraternity. On top of that, a lot of relationships at Union are Greek to Greek students. It is hard to argue when there are instances of sexual assault involving Greek life at other schools. However, this is an issue that exists on college campuses whether there is Greek life or not, thus it should be addressed as such. To generalize that every rape happens in a frat, or that every fraternity brother is a rapist because rapes have happened in fraternities, is a farce. This applies to homophobia as well. Homophobia exists, it exists at Union, and it exists in America. Ten percent of Americans are gay, but are ten percent of Union students? As someone who came from a school that was as open as it could be to LGBTQ students I am very sensitive to instances of homophobia. I’m not saying that fraternity brothers are perfect, but neither is the rest of the Union community. This, again, is an issue that the entire Union community should address.
    4) Organizations are exclusive in nature. There are exclusive organizations that exist on campus other than Greek life. Life is exclusive, we are adults, this is a fact of life and getting over feelings of exclusion is the first step to a happy life.
    5) Hazing is terrible, and Union has taken tremendous strides in ensuring the safety of its students. Once again, I cannot comment on the happenings of every fraternity, but considering the fact that to the best of my knowledge none of our students have died, been hospitalized, or been seriously injured, we are doing okay.
    6) The money issue quite honestly is unfortunate. However, just like any other organization, there are bills that need to paid, there are expenses. There is no income requirement for rush, they don’t tell you how much it costs before joining, and no Greek organization wants finances to be a factor in a student becoming a member.
    7) Greek organizations participate in philanthropic efforts, not charity, there is a difference. A lot of non-profits rely heavily upon donations from Greek organizations. Here are some organizations our Greek students help: Delta Delta Delta – St. Judes Children Hospital, Sigma Delta Tau – Prevent Child Abuse America, Gamma Phi Beta – Girls on the Run, Sigma Chi – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. To belittle the efforts made by these Greek houses is to belittle the organizations themselves.

    Healthy conversation is great; it breeds change and makes the community a better place. Your tirade against Greek life is rooted in the fact that you are vehemently against it. I don’t think anyone is going to change your opinion on that. However, I do have some questions.

    Why would you come to a school with 7 fraternities and 3 sororities to serve a 2,200 person campus? A school that is literally referred to as “The Mother of Fraternities” if you are so against them? Is it because you didn’t realize your hatred until you already arrived, or is it because the school administration heavily downplays the prevalence of Greek life on campus? If it is the latter, do you think that this is a benefit or detriment to Union? If they made it more well known that Greek life is a big part of the campus community, would people who hate Greek life still come here, or go to a school that doesn’t have Greek life at all?

    Your ending argument is correct in a sense, Greek life does need to change. There are obvious flaws in the system. However, a great way to change the system is to become a part of it, to take on leadership roles that enable you to make change. In my opinion, this is already happening, and the evolution of Greek organizations on this campus will be tremendous in the coming years at Union.

    • Speaking for myself, I never joined a Greek organization, and I never knew how prevalent Greek life was on campus. In hindsight, I wish someone had told me on my tours or overnight stays because I may have chosen a different school. But you really can’t know about the culture here unless you’re here or someone who knows tells you about it.

      It just feels like having so many Greek organizations on campus really divides the student population into groups that can’t really welcome in new members easily after that one sophomore fall. Anyway, I’m glad that those of you in Greek life loved your experience with it, but it is difficult for those of us who hoped to attend a college with a more connected community feel to it. Again, this is my perspective as a non-Greek who would have picked another school if I had better information coming in.

    • You’re opening argument literally states that a GDI can’t understand greek life if they do not join greek life itself. Take some responsibility and actually learn to evaluate what you are being criticized for so you can make real positive change.

      I have also never known a family that gains support by raping, sexual assaulting, and demeaning its own family members. When Greek life is 60% of the college campus you can’t use the argument that they are leaders in academics because those same people should be capable of doing the same things without having to have support from individuals they fuck over on a constant basis. In other words, it is completely incidental that they do what they do and are in greek life; it is not an argument capable of being used for or against it.

      Exclusiveness shouldn’t come at a price tag.

      Your dues go towards nationals because lord knows you can’t find a job on your own after you graduate and need the networking, and they also go towards the alcohol that will inevitably be used to sexually assault one of your sisters, so please tell me how the money thing is unfortunate.

      If you care about charity and non-for profits how about working at the Kenney center instead of doing some asinine outdoor activity to raise money for something you have no personal connection with. If you ever actually talked to someone from the organization and went on more than one occasion on your own time I applaud you, until then just be quiet.

      I also shouldn’t be choosing a school based on the social life present when I am purely interested in the academics. I wanted small class sizes, conversations with my professors, and the ability to express myself as I am and be heard. To think that I should have to take into account that Union is the “Mother of Fraternities” is ridiculous and also strengthens the argument against them because Union is actively trying to get rid of them in favor of the Minerva system. No one tells you how shitty greek life is until you get there, and while Union may be better than most schools it does not excuse anyone’s behavior.

      • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Nobody tells you how shitty greek life is until you get here? and the Minerva system is trying to be favored???? Try wording that the other way around buddy. Plus, if the Minerva system was trying to be supported, why cut their funding to 66% of what it was and reduce the impact they have on campus?

        Where does the whole raping and sexual assault thing come from. I have seen multiple confrontations where non-greek men try to go home with girls clearly drunk and brothers have intervened. In these cases, the girls were either sent home after finding her friends or personally being walked home by a brother (to be a gentleman). And get your mind out of the gutter and notice I said walked home, meaning get home safe and to to get with her themselves.

        Also, when do greeks screw over non-greeks on a regular basis? It doesn’t even make sense, I’ve never seen someone seek out and thrive on taking things away from another student, let alone a GDI.

        Don’t even dare say that we pay for networking. I got my job on my own, without knowing anyone, with parents who make less than 50k a year combined, 2.5 hours away from my home, at a company that is responsible for defending your life every day. Good thing my college experience and my dues went towards boozing, raping, fake charity work, and belittling people huh? That is what gets you good jobs I guess.

    • 10% of Americans are gay? Where on earth did you pull this statistic from? Sexuality is MUCH more complex than a binary label (gay-straight). And because of homophobia, a significant percentage of the population does not feel comfortable disclosing their honest sexual identity.

      You are suggesting “life is exclusive, just face it, you’ll be happier that way.” So says every hegemonic injustice doer to every minority group in history (African-Americans, women, Jews, LGBTQ, Irish, CEOs on Wall Street, Donald Trump…etc.). You may not have realized it, but what you stated is very fascistic and shows privilege and an ignorance of history. Social exclusion is only necessary for those in positions of power over others who want to maintain such position of power over others.

  6. Wow you sound extremely, extremely insecure. I hope you find yourself one day, so you could focus your attention to the ACTUALLY important things going on in the world. Greek life should be the least of your worries. You sound pretty heated about all things greek, but you simply don’t know what goes on inside of a house, so your opinion is automatically invalid. Your thoughts in this article are shallow and based off of stereotypes. Sure, individuals do decide to fuck up in school. But the thing is, you find fuck ups everywhere, and they aren’t necessarily in Greek life. Problems like sexism, misogyny, or homophobia do not exist because fraternities are around; they are deeply rooted societal problems that you cannot blame on greeks. Can you honestly say that independents are perfect?

    Greek system here already has been reformed a great deal here in the few years I have been here, but you wouldn’t know that.

    Oh an uh. I’m gay and in a frat AND the whole world knows it. And I’m happier than I have ever been. No, it’s not cause of being “brainwashed”; I’m my own goddamn person and make my own happiness. I suggest you try to get over yourself.

    • honestly your argument relies on the only one able to talk about greek life in a constructive manner is someone who is already in it. ” but you simply don’t know what goes on inside of a house, so your opinion is automatically invalid”. You’re going to have a hard time with empathy your entire life and will surely do worse at any job involving people skills if you are this ignorant and unable to actually have a meaningful discussion.

      When the people in fraternities are the white rich kids of the word they bring all the societal issues with them because their parents never taught them how to be respectful and get along with others. If you think yourself to be different then great for you, but how would even know.

      Also greek life is so talked about by everyone that even I could tell you how it has been reformed if you gave me 10 minutes to text a friend.

      • There are all sorts of people involved in fraternities, even at Union which is predominately white. Not to mention that there are multi-cultural greek houses as well (plural). Plus you fail to see what we mean by saying you don’t know how the fraternity’s inner working functions without being in it. It the same as saying you don’t know what the Mason’s inner workings are unless you’re in it, or how you don’t understand/appreciate a skill until you try it yourself (like curling, golfing, competitively biking, anything that looks easy and you make fun of until you try it).

      • It’s ignorance against ignorance; if the article actually presented points worth discussing, then they will be discussed in a constructive manner. you rely on your own opinions about greek life from an outside perspective, so how can you have a reliable argument?

        If you haven’t looked around you, rich white kids have such a strong grasp of the world, so is your critique on society itself, or just against a group of kids who have a social life in this school?

        your response isn’t even worth the time due to your ignorance, but ill give you the time of day just this once.

        And also, yes, tell me how it’s been reformed. Go text your friend pls

  7. Your argument is so brutal to read I don’t understand how you were allowed to write. This is essentially a rant of your point of view on something you have little knowledge about.
    Your first argument about insecurity is just flat out not true and based on no analysis. Joining a frat is a pretty confident thing to do. If someone is insecure they are worried about themselves and don’t have the confidence to meet new social situations. Yet joining a fraternity where you both know and don’t know people is pretty tough task. Going out on a limb to ask a group of people to join their organization represents confidence.
    Your second argument states that every frat bro goes through a pledging or hazing process and is essentially brainwashed to like it. However let’s take the pledging process as a test and training like BUDS when training for the Navy Seals. It’s a process that only you and your brothers get to experience and share the expierience with each other. In essence, in a conmrodery tool for newly formed friendships.
    Your next argument states that frat bros are more likely to commit sexual assault and all these negative things they do. Or how they put pornographic photos of women on their wall. Or how they are homophobic. Or how they just insult peopgle with homophobic rhetoric. And that all they do is grind their crotch on women. However walk into a fraternity party and many people doing this “grinding” aren’t in a fraternity. Walk through any non Greek members male room and the same amount of people will have women on posters in their room. As well homophobia is an issue that plagues much more of their entire country in the United states then in a frat. On top of that, people in that community are more welcome in this campus and Greek scene then you seem to think. I can go on all day and prove your awful arguments wrong. This article was a waste of time and me writing this was as well. I don’t know how one becomes qualified to write for the Concordy, but it sure seems that nothing is looked over or given consideration. Before you berate something, take part in it and see it from the other side.

    • “Mr. [Frat Bro] what you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things i have ever heard.
      At no point in your rambling incoherent response were you even close to anything that could
      be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this [forum] is now dumber for having listened to it.
      I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul”

      • I disagree. While it was a rant, he did make many good points. He actually had more true facts than the actual article. HAHA

          • It’s not hard to beat an article in a facts competition when it contains none; just a bunch of rambling venting opinions. By the way, don’t act like you’re on a high horse with your psychology major.

    • This is in the Opinions section which means anyone with an opinion can submit something. Concordy is simply the platform the author has chosen. If you would like submit an opinion article, feel free to do so!

    • the oxford comma is not necessary and is a aesthetic choice. He went to Cambridge so give him some more credit than that.

      • In that case it is necessary because without it, it would be including faculty in the group with “people who aren’t”. However, the “faculty” are a different group.

  8. Phi Betta Kappa is a Greek Letter society which I believe you are a member of. Technically you are member of Greek Life.

    • Phi Beta Kappa is a Greek organization that is true to what the original meanings of frats and sororities were supposed to be: academic organizations. Besides, you can’t get in until you’ve proven yourself as a person — academics, character, service, and friendship. I bet N/A equals your chances at getting into Phi Beta Kappa, smart ass.

      • Yeah. . . not like I’m already in it or anything. Plus proving yourself through academics, character, service and friendship is exactly what pledging is smart ass. Hazing is a stereotypical accusation about pledging, so don’t be counterproductive and play the hazing card.

  9. The faculty you speak of also most likely base their opinions strictly on the instances they see in the news. I can guarantee none of them are currently active in a greek house, have been to a greek party, or even been around a group of greek people hanging out together. Therefore, they are just as unqualified as you are in making your assumptions and comments.

  10. Are you really surprised that there is a correlation between being in greek life and committing sexual assault? Generalizing (as you are), members of Greek Life are typically more social. I think the actual correlation is between people who are social and sexual assault. Also Greek guys are more likely to sexually assault Greek girls, just from who they know. These girls are more likely to be confident (again generalizing) and have a HUGE support system. Therefore, they are more likely to report (and thus Greek guys are more likely to be reported on).

    I really hate people like you who take a serious issue like sexual assault and use it as a pawn in your game against Greek life. Please respect sexual assault for the crime it is.

    • I said I wasn’t surprised.
      There’s no evidence that members of Greek Life are more social. Pretty patronising to us independents too!
      There is however plenty of evidence that Bros objectify women in a way that can easily explain higher levels of sexual assault.
      If you really care about sexual assault, then you should be concerned with the higher levels of sexual assault amongst Greeks and not so quick to dismiss the correlation as causally irrelevant.
      I suspect, however, you are more interested in just defending Greek Life.

      • This is where you are started to reduce your credibility. While I do think you have done a decent thing in expressing your opinions in the article and are trying to spark reform, you are straying from your goal and starting to degrade people and say all they care about it defending greek life. This person actually has a good argument, and clearly respects the issue of sexual assault, and yet you are treating him as if he were a assaulter or rapist himself.
        Also, there is plenty of evidence that greeks are more social. They hold more leadership positions on campus than non-greeks (35% of population is greek, but they hold 65% of campus positions). They get involved in every club, activity and sport heavily. The whole process of rushing is about being social and meeting people.
        Also, 95% of sexual assaults by greeks were someone they knew and like everything, it is more easy to report when you have support, which is a great thing. For the opposite group. only 78% knew who their offender was.

        • “This person actually has a good argument.” – but they don’t. They’re point scoring. It’s transparent.

          • And also, I am not trying to degrade this person. And how on earth am I treating them like they’re a rapist?

  11. As a GDI, who opted to maintain independence because I didn’t receive a bid from the fraternity of my choice, I am a strong advocate of Greek life. Unfortunately your understanding of Greek life is minimal. Not saying that mine is very strong, but I encourage you to go to other schools with strong Greek scenes and see the incredible differences.

    I’ve been around Miami University of Ohio enough to see how much more open, accepting, and giving Union’s greek system is than theirs.

    Let me give you a great example, at Miami if you’re guy, you’re not getting into a house except your own. If you’re a GDI forget about even going out. It’s incredibly exclusive. Other big schools are similar. At Union, we take no cover charges for granted. That is a rarity.

    Our dues here are super reasonable. One fraternity at the University of Texas has dues of around six to seven thousand per year. Union’s are far lower.

    Our Greek organizations are giving back to the Schenectady community in one for or another on a weekly basis.

    All in all, I am a GDI and while I am excluded from certain events and activities, I have retained the same friends since freshman year and have great friendships with Greeks in nearly all organizations. You are blaming your lack of social mobility on the Greek system, but rather the problem is you.

    Again, I encourage you to look at other Greek systems and truly see how welcoming Union’s is.

    • In what sense do I lack Social Mobility? I’m an international student. That’s just about the most socially mobile thing that someone can be. And since when is ‘lacking in social mobility’ an insult?
      It seems like you’ve confused ‘social mobility’ with ‘sociability’.
      And lol, that’s the first time I’ve been described as quiet and awkward. People normally go for words like ‘loud’ and ‘egomaniacal’ when insulting me. But I guess that doesn’t suit your ends!

      • Social mobility as your ability to navigate Union’s social scene. It’s not an insult by any means. Social mobility as in your ability to integrate yourself into Union’s social culture. Clearly your dislike for the Greek system stems from that.

        I never described you as quiet and awkward.

        In fact, I studied in France and at this particular university, there were plenty of “exclusive” social clubs. Quite frankly, there are social clubs in every country/culture. No blame should be put on the Greek system because clubs of these nature exist everywhere.

    • Well, just comparing Union’s Greek life to other campus’ Greek life doesn’t really add anything to the conversation. It’s like saying there’s no racism in the Northeast because, look at the South. The Author is talking about Greek Life at Union specifically.

  12. Well, the tirade of abuse certainly didn’t take too long. But really, I think all of us should be able to admit that Greek organizations are not perfect and that because they’re such a prevalent part of campus life they’re obviously going to be targets for criticism. That’s okay. That’s what open dialogue is about. That’s what improvement depends on. I’m rather disappointed reading these comments, actually, because when I came to Union I thought I was joining a community of intellectuals, but this blatant attacking of ideas different from ones own shows me perhaps I came to a community of selective intellectuals. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect those who are defending Greek life, which is obviously something important to them, but the amount of ad hominem on display makes it difficult for me to listen to their point of view (didn’t you all learn how not to use logical fallacies in school?). Greek life does many good things, and I appreciate all the charity work they do and how integral they are to the campus community, but frats also do less than savory things — I have been sexually harassed at fraternities, I have seen friends narrowly avoid sexual assault, and I have also seen them narrowly avoid being drugged. Again, these actions, I have no doubt, come from only a small percentage of fraternity members, except maybe the catcalling, which seems to be pretty universal.
    But the problem is that people accept this kind of behavior in fraternities as normal. Since when did harassing and attempted drugging of women become normal, excusable behavior? Since when did the cancellation of a day party during a weekend celebrating our college’s rich history and alumni become the thing to focus on that weekend? Again, these are not complaints against the individuals in Greek life, I have many friends in Greek life and they’re wonderful, it’s just a complaint against the groupthink and overall culture associated with Greek organizations.
    So Greek members: you don’t like what’s being said about you in this article. Understandable. But attacking the author is not the way to get your opinions heard. Instead, calmly discuss it or go out and prove him wrong about your organization. If you do so much good, why are you so worried about one dissenting opinion? You have nothing to worry about then! Just don’t attack your fellow members of the student body. That is incredibly disrespectful and immature and behavior I would expect at a middle school level and would hope not to see at a college one.

    • Greek members are being attacked by him based on stereotypes. If I posted an opinion that Asians are bad drivers, I wouldn’t whine when they defend themselves with a little hostility

      • The point is that just insulting Matt doesn’t defend Greek life at all, so it’s counterproductive to insult him if you’re trying to defend Greek life.

          • I have not really seen any personal attacks on Matt in this comment section. A lot of bringing up the issues with his argument yes. He had not only attacked us on stereotypes, but also attack us when we comment anything against his beliefs.

          • @ “Open your eyes”

            Most of the personal attacks and insults have been removed by the Concordy. But there are still a bunch around.

    • Thank you for the one neutral and sensible post in this section. I do want to say that cat-calling however is not universal to fraternities. 1) 2 years ago, we banned cat-calling by brothers, resulting in a house fine (cleaning etc.) if you violate that rule. Since then, I have never experienced this at our house, although one brother was heard and punished when it occurred at an off campus party.2) walk down the street in Schenectady and see how many cat-calls you hear (non-greek obviously). It is just a horrible fact of society right now, but it cannot be put on fraternities. Once again, I am not saying it is not bad, but you can’t blame something on a group when in fact it is an issue for all of society

  13. I’m a faculty member. I recognize that Greek organizations provide community and support that is very important to people. I would want to have these kinds of “families” available for students who want them.

    But I don’t think these organizations should be single-sex. I think that during one’s college years, living in a same-sex group is likely to lead to 1) more pressure to conform to sex-role norms (e.g., to act “macho” for guys, meet feminine ideals for women), and 2) lack of intimacy and familiarity with other-gendered people – not a good basis for adult life!

    Moreover, the national Greek organizations perpetuate really archaic and damaging sex-role stereotypes — like that men can throw parties, but “ladies” can’t — or that men can get to know each other casually to choose their brothers, but “ladies” have artificial, brief “Miss America contests” to choose their sisters. By following these norms, I do believe that Greek organizations at Union continue to promote male dominance.

    So — not insensitive to the values of Greek organizations, but

    — We need co-ed Greek organizations!! and
    — We need women and independents hosting parties and creating social life, and
    —Union students (and all students) need to stand up to Nationals and get with the 21st century!!!

    P.S. One of the main goals of the Minervas was to give women and independents space and funds to have parties/create social life — not sure why people aren’t taking and advantage of it…?

    • Thanks Prof. Benack. As I said in the article, it makes a huge difference to feel supported by faculty. Please encourage your colleagues to speak up too!

    • I am not looking to start an argument, as I know the author will even though this comment is merely pointing out a fact. Parties are joint hosted by both the sorority and the fraternity. Everything is split evenly and the parties are labeled are designated/registered with both organizations. The reason the fraternity hosts them it is illegal to host a co-ed party at a house with a 100% female residence of six people or more. I am not agreeing with it, because I think it is a dumb rule, but it is the case and is why they cannot host parties.
      The reason people don’t take advantage of the Minerva system is because of the many restrictions on the types of events. In order to host am event with alcohol (to get it outside of the fraternity atmosphere), we still need a fraternity to co-host the event. Not to mention that the funds don’t support alcohol.
      I also believe that a co-ed fraternity might be a good idea. But like all other fraternities and Sororities, a group of people need to step up and found the organization. Things like that would be great for people who want to pioneer change. Instead of attacking the organizations that the author disagrees with, he should have focused on such opportunities. That would be the best way to offer new options for people who don’t agree with the current greek life.

  14. Bravo Matthew. Thank you for expressing your opinions in a clear, coherent fashion, and for bringing to light the many issues that surround the overwhelming Greek culture here on campus. I agree with all of your points, and am proud to be the friend of someone who had the courage to state them to an audience that was certain to fight back in an unkind fashion. I never, ever considered the possibility of going Greek and would never second guess that decision, but I do know people who have benefitted from their decision to join and that’s great I guess. But, in general, why join a group that guarantees a sense of sameness when you can instead make your own choices and be more interesting and individual for it? I’d encourage anyone thinking of joining next year to consider your other options, and make the decision to be an individual rather than just another face in the sea of Greek letters in reamer on any given day. If you don’t think you have a place in this community yet, make one. That’s what I did, and I am a more individual, self-sufficient person for it. I love Union, and the four years I’ve spent here have been the best of my life so far. I will be very sad to leave in a few weeks, but I will not miss the overwhelming Greek culture in the slightest.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas! I support them all.

    • Lizzy, you are a contradiction to Matt’s arguments. You’ve have done very well and have excelled in this campus. According to Matt, you can’t do this because apparently greek members control everything and exclude everyone not greek. With that being said, I applaud you, but you are exactly what Matt is saying cannot exist at Union. Clearly he is wrong.

      • I don’t think Matt said anything like that… I just skimmed it again and I didn’t see anything saying that non-Greeks can’t do well.

        • Including the comments section as well. He said several times that since the campus is run by greek members, we make the different non-greek areas of the campus community exclusive to greeks as well such as clubs, committees and such. This would mean that the non-greek student would not be able to get involved and therefore excel in these areas, which is definitely not the case

  15. Your article was a very refreshing change of pace from the usual drivel found in the Concordy. Having read the Concordy for four years at Union, I found it to be an excellent opinion piece, which many of these commenters seem to take as a personal assault on them and their organizations. While this article reflects the opinion of one man, this opinion resonates with hundreds of others on campus.

    In my time at Union, I witnessed horrendous instances of hazing, sexual assault and misogyny perpetrated by members of Greek organizations on campus. Often these instances have been brushed aside or downplayed in a fashion that I find unbelievable and despicable. Matthew has properly addressed these issues, bringing them into a public forum so that they may be discussed in a constructive manner. Instead he has been attacked in this very comment section for expressing his opinion. While not surprising, I hope that we can rise above our inflamed emotions to work on this issue, for the betterment of the campus as a whole.

  16. I would like to thank you, Matt, for expressing the thoughts trapped within this bronze shell I sit in day in and day out. Since the late 19th century I have been present on campus, observing, but never able to express my feelings. In this large block of time, I have witnessed the gradual decline of the fraternity. The fraternity was once a respected organization, based on principles. I remember when the fraternities would host a formal dinner once a week for the president and other students, taking responsibility for the entire process from beginning to end. The fraternities took responsibility for their actions, ad were self governed. These days, the fraternities rely heavily on their “administration” for discipline. This “administration” is often a member of the faculty paid to make sure the ridiculous things that happen go away quietly. I will give you just a few examples. Exact years and dates are nearly impossible to prove as all digital records of these events have been purged from public record. In the years before 2008, one of the fraternities on campus was kicked out after the brothers were caught throwing live piglets out of second and third story windows. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the brothers were storing additional dead piglets in their freezers. Around the same time, brothers from a different fraternity were throwing fluorescent light tubes out of 2nd story windows. One of said light tubes struck another student at the base of his neck and paralyzed him from the neck down. What happened to the accountability? Why can’t the youth of this institution be held to a higher standard than the rest of the country? Before attacking this opinion piece, I urge you to do your research. Fraternities did once stand for respect, order, and a higher standard. Please Union, do not let this school plunge into the black hole that consists of cover ups and denial and address theses problems. As the “mother of fraternities” you have the obligation to discipline your child when it misbehaves, and as far as I can tell, you have been doing a terrible job. Again, fraternities can be and are often a good influence and do things that better the community, but at the moment, there are many more negatives than positives if you look underneath the rug that is Union College’s fraternal facade. I rest my case and will return to the silence of my bronze prison.

  17. You’re a brave man! I appreciate someone putting words to the experience of so many past and present Union Students. I graduated a little while ago and it seems little has changed.

    I will say during my time there, Union systematically held Greek students to a different standard than others. The Director of Greek life at the time aided and abetted disgusting behavior, helping his “bros” to avoid punishment when issues came up. He could also be found at Greek events on the weekends heavily partaking in the festivities if you know what I mean. This is just one example of how Union systematically perpetuates a corrupt system of institutional favoritism. Quiet frankly, its disturbing.

    Union is simply a representation of the world beyond the gates of a small college community. Through the Greek system, Union replicates the exact hierarchies of oppression and exclusivity that everyone will face after graduation. Maybe we can thank Union for preparing us for the real world at least?

  18. I was a student at Union who eventually chose to transfer, largely because of the impact of the Greek system. This article was brought to my attention by a friend, and while my response is rather late, I thought individuals may be interested in the perspective of someone who left Union primarily as a result of the very problems Matt’s describes.

    If you’re like most of the 2,000 bros and lady-bros on this campus from the Massachusetts/Connecticut/NY area, you’ll undoubtedly go Greek. If you’re a student with little interest in drinking or “typical” college festivities, you may choose to stay independent, and find a surprising wealth of activities offered to satisfy your needs (Minerva events, the Webster niche, etc.). However, if you’re in-between like I was – someone who enjoys going out, someone who wants to drink, but someone who also came to college with high hopes of engaging in other activities and meaningful friendships – you may find yourself at a depressing and confusing loss. This was precisely my experience with the Greek system and it left me so unhappy and lonely (despite many both Greek and GDI friends) that I eventually chose to leave Union. This was an incredibly difficult decision as I truly believe Union to be a wonderful institution with so many good intentions.The unfortunate reality is that it was never enough.

    Believe me, I made every effort to have the traditional Union experience before coming to this conclusion. I was on a sports team, joined clubs, and frequented frat parties throughout my first year. Matt is right to call these parties abysmal; I couldn’t understand why I was never having fun until I drowned myself in enough liquor to find them bearable. No one makes an effort to talk or get to know one another. It is merely a drunken orgy of guys and girls rubbing against each other, hoping to get lucky. And I am in NO way condemning casual hookups – I indulged in them myself, and they are a very natural element of college for some people. Yet the way casual hookups are framed and normalized at Union is incredibly problematic and is perpetuated almost entirely by the Greek system. I can personally attest to the fact that frats teach their members to perceive women as disposable trash. They come to believe that “casual hookups” are synonymous with treating women like dirt, and there is absolutely no excuse for this behavior regardless of whether you plan to sleep with a girl once or befriend her for a lifetime. They normalize coerced sex (something I watched many of my girlfriends experience) and other bullshit like hazing and generally acting like a drunken douchebag. The problem was that I wanted involvement in many of the elements that Greek life (and college, generally) offers – going out, making friends, hooking up, blah blah blah. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting both an intellectually-stimulating college course load as well as a fulfilling social life, but it felt impossible to achieve this at Union. When I chose not to go Greek, I felt essentially ousted from social life on campus. There are so few real house parties or even a music/concert scene outside of the Greek system. Things like Minervas and theme houses are rarely taken seriously, and in many cases are even perceived to be “uncool”. It is HUGELY problematic and blatant misrepresentation for Union to downplay the existence of Greek life as much as it does, when it realistically consumes about 75% of campus life. The only true solution I can think of is to reduce its presence substantially, by a third or even half. Perhaps if frats and sororities were forced to be more selective, weighing factors like interests and campus involvement, they wouldn’t produce such a homogeneous group of people that serves to consume and whitewash the entire campus.

    Before the flood of angry responses emerges, i want to make it clear that I do not condemn all Greek life at Union. I had plenty of friends in frats and sororities, and the ones who enjoyed it most were in those that truly prioritized fostering meaningful friendships – the POINT of Greek life to begin with! Many Greek students will argue that their respective frats/sororities do exactly this, but it is hard to see when these organizations are essentially ranked in prestige according to the attractiveness of their members/representative sports teams. Big surprise that baseball, football, and blondes take the lead.

    Anyway…point blank: By the end of the sophomore year, all of my friends had either succumbed and gone Greek, or stayed independent like I did and suffer a LOAD of serious depression of intense feelings of seclusion. I was sad to go, and I would really love to see this change.

  19. I’m happy to hear of all your expertise on the subject seeing as you were never Greek yourself. Can’t possibly be biased, right?

Leave a Reply