Greek life: the good, the Bad, and the ugly

Anna Oluyomi , Contributing Writer

Our campus is known for its core curriculum, beautiful campus, and solid liberal arts program. Nonetheless, one of the main components of student life at Bucknell is the Greek system. Since 1855, with the creation of the first fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, the Greek system has continuously grown in size. There are currently 11 fraternities and nine sororities on campus. Although these organizations have different names, they share similar goals and principles.

The common pillars of many Greek organizations include leadership, service, academic excellence and sisterhood/brotherhood. However, there lies the question of whether Greek organizations are up to par with their national guidelines and mission statements. There is news about the various service events championed by the fraternities and sororities. There are also positive stories about students having a sense of community and togetherness within the Greek system, but these stories are shrouded with issues ranging from sexual assault to alcoholism to drug use. Underneath the so-called camaraderie, there lies one question up for debate: should we do away with the Greek system? If we shouldn’t, how can we reform it?

Coincidentally, it’s the “pre-rush” season—when students are going to information sessions, exploring the fraternity houses and sorority suites, and familiarizing themselves with the “frat bros” and sorority sisters. When asked why they are interested in “going Greek,” many students respond with two main reasons: 1) to expand their social circle and 2) to gain a community of sisters or brothers who will serve as their core group of friends. In addition, it fosters a sense of pride to be part of something generally accepted within the campus apparatus. This pride is noticeable from the amount of people who wear t-shirts with their Greek letter symbols on them. For the students who love to party, it is much easier to get into the fraternity parties once you enter the Greek social circle. There are also exclusive social gatherings called “mixers” which allow for collaboration between fraternities and sororities. Judging from its benefits, it is understandable why the Greek system is so popular and prevalent on campus.

Nevertheless, certain flaws exist within the system that can negatively impact the social atmosphere on campus. These flaws are typically grounded in excessive partying. One of them is well-known: the ratio-system. This involves the commodification of women in order to get into a party. Many males, typically first-years, need to have up to five ladies with them in order to be allowed entrance into a party. This, of course, does not happen across all fraternities, but it still is an overwhelming problem. There is also the issue of excessive alcohol consumption, which becomes a gateway for more serious problems like sexual assault and hospitalization. Although the magnitudes of these issues vary, they serve to give the Greek system a bad reputation not only within this university but within the college system more broadly.

The Greek system itself is not the problem. The problem lies in the culture surrounded around partying and drinking. The problem lies in students feeling the need to make questionable decisions in order to fit in. The problem lies within the ignorance surrounding drinking and sexual relationships. The way to fix the flaws is not to get rid of the system but rather to educate the members and proactively tackle the underlying issues that constitute those core problems before they manifest in negative ways.

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