Fraternity culture is deeply ingrained in college campuses across the nation, dating back as far as the 1800s. Its ties to universities have captured the interest of all types of people, most notably sparking controversy. One of the most prevalent arguments brought up time and time again is that fraternities are pointless, empty endeavors. They provide no positive connotation to a college's name, instead sometimes offering horrific scandals including hazing schemes, racist, sexist, or ableist materials published in the university's name, and occasionally, death. The following is a deep dive into the culture and drive behind these operations and why universities believe fraternities (and sororities) are a crucial part in the operation of an educational establishment.
Organized brotherhoods have repercussions, no matter how pure the original intention. There is a philosophy behind having a culture ingrained within an educational establishment; it provides a sense of family and brotherhood while also maintaining the promise of freedom. Colleges also use fraternities as free promotion for recruits. At times, students see frats as a chance to be free from college’s educational prowess and take the opportunity to cut loose. When you mix newly minted adults with the promise of fun, what you get is a lack of self-control and an abundance of group polarization.
The abolishment of such organizations will affect all parties, whether or not they are directly involved. Here’s one question that remains unanswered: why don’t campuses just get rid of frats all together? They drain money and resources, and they often result in the extreme deterioration of the university’s name. Unfortunately, the answer varies. For some campuses, frats attract and lure in potential new students. For others, it’s financially beneficial—frats do bring in some revenue each year. The most significant answer is perhaps a sad one. The frats are just too big a part of life on campus. Some universities have frats dating back to their founding. A high percentage of students belong to frats and sororities, and it’s wholly ingrained in their lives; if a college were to eliminate its Greek life, there would no doubt be a huge uproar.
There is a specific mold you must fit into to gain access to the brotherhood, and in making the choice to fit that mold, you risk not only yourself, but your future as well. Students who join a frat seem to follow the same guidelines: they are usually white, their parents are wealthy, and their GPAs are usually average or lower than average. (This statistic varies, as some frats require a certain GPA to be admitted.) Both fraternities and sororities require a flat fee to even be admitted into the rushing process, and the fee is usually not low.
There is no way of determining whether removing frats and sororities will reap positive or detrimental effect, and colleges just aren’t willing to take the risk. The culture and philosophy behind campus brotherhoods are rooted deep in the history of American universities. Redacting a fraternity or sorority is not as simple as it seems. Let’s compare it to legalizing marijuana in all 50 states. It seems easy and effortless, until the questions and debates begin to surface: what will happen to the sentence time for people who’ve been jailed for possession and dealing weed? How will recreational use be moderated? How will the economy be affected, and how will exportation laws change because of the legalization? It's never as easy just saying fraternities will be banned, just as the legalization of marijuana isn’t one-dimensional. There will always be outcry from both the public and within the universities themselves.