6 November 2012
Greek Life: The Negative College Experience?
Most people do not have the ability to think of college without thinking of some sort of Greek life organization. Whether that thought is negative or positive may vary, but it is rare to think of any time in a college of any sort without thinking of a fraternity or a sorority at all. This is to be expected because most of these groups have somewhat dominated their campuses for hundreds of years, or since their particular chapters were formed. Supporters of Greek life, especially of fraternities, argue that being involved in Greek life organizations encourages brotherhood, the development of leadership skills, and the participation in philanthropic organizations throughout the students’ collegiate career.
The bonds of brotherhood within fraternities have proven to be some of the strongest bonds among young men across the country. When it comes to supporting each other, it appears that the young men of collegiate fraternities are masters in the field. Whatever problems are faced by one brother can easily be backed up or even repaired completely by another, and the massive amount of time that the members are required to spend with each other due to meetings or rituals or any other function for the particular fraternity does nothing but strengthen the bond that was already set by initiation into the group. It is rare among college campuses, especially at Sam Houston State University, to see a member of a fraternity walking alone or spending any amount of downtime doing anything but socializing with the other members of their organization. This type of bonding can most certainly be considered to be a very positive aspect of participating in a fraternity, especially when the ability build relationships and work together as members of a team is one of the main concepts behind the organizations in the first place.
These organizations may seem harmless enough in the settings that are viewed by the public, but if a closer look is taken at specific time periods of brotherhood, especially pledgeship for the newest members of the fraternity, it is obvious that these groups are anything but innocuous. There have been many reports of underage binge drinking at the parties for all different fraternities and requirements of the pledges to consume extremely large and ultimately unsafe amounts of alcohol, all in the hopes of acceptance into the organization and done out of fear of rejection. For example, it has been observed for many years that the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Sam Houston State University requires their pledges to finish an entire handle of Jägermeister liquor among themselves within a small window of time, and if they fail to do it properly, they are handed a new bottle and forced to start again. This activity is done on Bid Day, the very first day that the young men announce their desire to join the fraternity. Another example of this type of encouragement of binge drinking would be the two deaths of the pledges of completely different fraternities and two different college campuses during 1997. The first, Scott Krueger, an “18-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology freshman honors student” who died after a party that was thrown off-campus by the “Phi Gamma Delta fraternity” that Krueger was in the process of pledging (Scrivo 1). His blood alcohol level was a determined to be a “.41,” which is “more than five times the legal limit” (Scrivo 1). The second is Benjamin Wynne, a pledge of the “Sigma Alpha Epsilon” fraternity at Louisiana State University (Scrivo 1). His blood alcohol level after death was reported to be “.58,” a level that is “nearly six times the legal limit” (Scrivo 1). This type of strict enforcement and fear of rejection by the pledges must be taken into account when discussing what constitutes “brotherhood.” The definition of the word itself is “the feeling of kinship with and closeness...