Is Greek Life Worth it?

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UNLV's chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi (left) faces UNLV's chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu (right) in a game of tug-of-war during the 2023 Sigma Kappa Summer Kamp philanthropy event. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/ Abbie Millman)

In Favor: Greek Life is More Than Paying for Friends

While the idea of Greek Life is often correlated with the stereotype of partying and hazing, Greek Life offers so much more than that at UNLV. At a university that prides itself on diversity, UNLV even moved from second into a four-way tie for first in the annual U.S. News & World Report list for “campus ethnic diversity.” 

Greek Life is a significant aspect of that. Multicultural sororities and fraternities, the Divine Nine and more are what provide students with a sense of community that may otherwise be difficult to find at a commuter campus.

Greek Life also provides students with opportunities to be involved in their community. One recent example of this specific to UNLV students would be Greek Life students being given the opportunity to hold the American flag on field at the 2024 Super Bowl at Allegiant stadium and watch Usher perform only a few feet away at the half-time show afterwards.

Andrew Yu, a member of the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, joined his fraternity in spring 2022 as part of the Gamma Kappa class. Yu served as Tau Kappa Epsilon’s Philanthropy chair, social chair, Greek Life Homecoming chair, Student Life chair and at times Rush chair.

“Since UNLV is such a commuter school, I like to tell people if you think about joining Greek Life, don’t expect it to be like what you see in movies, TV shows, social media, etc. Expect it to be different. Greek Life gives you an opportunity to stay busy and be productive. You can be as active or inactive as you want to be,” said Yu.

Awarded the title of “Unsung Hero” during Greek Week (which Yu describes to be known as the “homecoming for Greek Life students”), Yu was acknowledged as one of the most involved members of Greek Life. To him, one of the biggest aspects of Greek Life people who are not in it tend to overlook is all the philanthropic service done.

“There is a negative stigma of Greek Life as a whole. I was a part of that as well, but at the end of the day by going to rush events or COB [continuous open bidding] events you get the opportunity to meet guys and girls alike. If your goal is to make memories in college, this is the best way,” said Yu.

While Greek Life can be associated with social affairs, there are so many opportunities to be taken with Greek Life whether that be academically, socially or vocationally.

“Just having a Greek Life chapter in your resume, whether that be a sorority chapter or fraternity chapter, you get to relate to somebody else from another state, and they will help you out with job opportunities, networking opportunities. I’ve gotten jobs just because I have been in that chapter,” Yu said.

Specifically for out-of-state students, Greek organizations are a wonderful option to explore to find a sense of belonging at a campus where many students opt to drive back and forth for class only without exploring what the campus has to offer, which is why Greek Life is vital to UNLV.

Against: The Toxic Culture of Greek Life

The portrayal of Greek life in our society often carries an alluring charm. When we think of sororities and fraternities, images of beautiful girls dressed in pink or guys cladded in bed sheets at toga parties may come to mind. However, behind this glossy facade lies a reality tainted with hazing, substance abuse and even sexual assault.

An anonymous review posted on UNLV’s Greek Rank, a platform dedicated to rating sororities and fraternities, said “Their [UNLV’s Panhellenic Council] fake slogan is ‘Daring, Diverse, Different,’ but in reality they are tiny, discriminatory and try to make those who are slightly different feel bad.”

Greek Life is saturated by a toxic culture that often normalizes harmful behaviors. According to a sociological review of Greek Life,  these organizations were originally white-male-only dominated spaces. Thus, racism, rape culture and the elements of conservative gender norms became a direct consequence of the system.

The normalization of hazing culture, an initiation process involving harassment, is another example of Greek Life’s toxic culture. A report by NBC revealed that at least 50 college students have died from hazing since the year 2000. Unfortunately, hazing is very prevalent at UNLV. According to UNLV’s Code Violation public records, the sororities Delta Zeta and Gamma Phi Beta were involved in the most recent instances of hazing in 2017. Of course, you won’t see that marketed on their social media or website. 

The allure to join Greek Life becomes duller when you begin to realize the risks involved. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence reported that students involved in Greek Life experience higher rates of sexual assault than those who aren’t. As a woman, the odds of being assaulted are already too high.

Furthermore, substance abuse is often enabled and even encouraged within Greek Life. A study published by the American Psychological Association found that fraternity and sorority members engage in heavier drinking compared to their non-Greek peers, influenced by the perception that their friends endorse excessive drinking habits. 

In my view, individuals who promote harmful behaviors do not genuinely care for your well-being. So, is it worth it? Joining a sorority or fraternity for “friendship and fun” sounds appealing, but is it worth the toxicity of Greek Life? I don’t think so. Let’s prioritize genuine connections that lift us up.

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