Greek life, philanthropy a valuable university experience

Eric Pollitt
Guest Contributor

Is Greek life the most successful way of life on campus?

Since 1825, all but three U.S. presidents have been members of a fraternity, according to USA Today. Nearly eighty-five percent of Fortune 500 executives were part of Greek life. The first female astronaut and U.S. senator were Greek affiliated. College graduation rates are 20 percent higher among Greeks than non-Greeks. What’s more impressive is that less than three percent of Americans are or were part of Greek life.

Does being in a fraternity or sorority increase your chance for success?

Nine million American college students are members of a Greek organization. Students join for various reasons: to make friends, to build their resumes, to go to parties or to learn leadership skills. Greek life rewards members with a unique opportunity to meet hundreds of peers who share the same values and principles as themselves. Other student organizations are not even close to providing the same number of participants, which makes Greek life unique.

But what makes Greek life any different from other on-campus organizations, like a debate team or a sports team? Organizations like as the Model UN and cooking club don’t have a 200-year history with more than four million alumni across America. Greek organizations provide camaraderie, love and support for its members. Greek life is supposed to advance the individual in every aspect of their life to prepare them for the professional world. No other college organization has produced as many congressional representatives or CEOs.

One way of increasing the attention of Greek organizations is the weeklong philanthropic event known as Greek Week. For the entire week, teams are given a particular event they must participate in or objective they must meet. Greek Week supports causes like fighting childhood cancer, domestic violence, animal abuse and human trafficking. Most importantly, Greek Week is about giving back to the community itself, while each and every year it becomes more and more successful. Greek organizations nationally raise over $7 million annually, with 10 million hours of volunteer service.

Recently, Greek chapters at VCU have been spotlighted as they restructure their pledging procedures and accusations of hazing. There are two forms of hazing: incidents that are reported and the ones that are not reported. Hazing is a task that makes an individual feel any form of discomfort. Isn’t college supposed to remove you from your comfort zone and challenge you? A coach on a sports team telling a player to take a lap after a tough day at practice would technically be hazing, it just isn’t reported. Each situation is a choice; the individual doesn’t have to deal with the coach or organization. They can always leave.

Shooting an automatic paintball gun at a new member repeatedly or making a new member eat raw liver is hazing, and unacceptable. Asking more out of a new member in a constructive method and challenging them to do their best and reach their potential is not hazing – it’s what makes those in Greek life succeed later on in life.

Although a minuscule amount of individuals within the Greek community create negative stigmas through immature actions better known as hazing, the negatives are outweighed by the benefits and that those who join for the right reasons will go far. Students who join solely for the partying are deservedly criticized for it, and usually end up disaffiliating without much benefit. How society sees fraternities and sororities says more about individuals than about the actual Greek system and it’s important to recognize the difference.

1 Comment

  1. I was in a sorority once and although it does offer some benefits with the philanthropy chair and volunteer experience, I realized early on that I would rather invest my time in something that would directly benefit me in the future. For example, The CT. Instead of going to chapter meetings every Sunday and pointless meetings throughout the week for initiation and recruiting new members, I would rather do something closely related to my major.

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