This article has been really tough for me to write. Matthew Cunningham (Campus Liberal) and I usually try to write about something that’s related to current events. However, this week we wanted to try something a little different and expand our horizons while focusing on something that’s college related. With this in mind, Matthew came up with the idea to write about the role of Greek life in a broad sense, not just here at Stevens (especially after what happened last time we published a piece on Greek life). With this in mind, it’s also important to note that, at least as of now, I am not affiliated with Greek life in any way. I have many friends who have chosen to join Greek life and have told me about their experiences, but I can not personally comment on how Greek life affects me.
The way I see it, Greek life has both its pros and cons. In terms of the pros, Greek life promotes a sense of unity and friendship while at the same time, it also supports many charitable events. From what I have seen, many fraternities and sororities require their pledges to meet with a majority of their current brothers or sisters. There is no other organization that even comes close to doing something like that. I can say from my experience in clubs here at Stevens that I talk to very few people once I am outside of those clubs, and even while I’m there, I only know a few names (The Stute being an exception to this in my case). For the most part, although it may seem like a daunting task for new pledges, it appears to be worth it in the end because in doing this you have had the chance to meet and talk with people who you otherwise would have ignored. It can help you in terms of guidance from those who are older and also give you a sense of mentorship towards those who are younger. I’m sure that there are many other great aspects of Greek life, but I am unfortunately limited in terms of space to write.
Here at Stevens alone, there are multiple events held every semester to either raise money or volunteer that are sponsored by fraternities and sororities. I even remember the Greek community coming together last year to serve food and drinks to first responders at the Hoboken Terminal. This charity and goodwill are brought to you by the wonders of capitalism. This is one of the few political points that shine through here. It is the little things like these that really give me a sense of hope that the Greek community is changing from the versions of it that have been seen in the movies for decades. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I would recommend watching the classic film “Animal House.”
Although I have hope for this, I also understand that this nice picture of fraternities does not hold all over the country and internationally. Unfortunately, many schools are known for how their fraternities and sororities haze their pledges to no end, and in many cases, this has lead to people having some sort of physical or psychological damage. Just last year, a student at Penn State was killed due to pledge hazing. Although the fraternity was suspended by both the school and its international fraternity, it does nothing to resolve the larger issue at hand. Penn State claims to have implemented stronger anti-hazing regulations, but will that really stop anything from going on? Many schools turn a blind eye to these atrocities and try to act like nothing happened. Some schools, like Stevens, have implemented training to ensure this doesn’t happen, but that begs the question, is this enough? From an outside perspective, I cannot answer this.
There is also the issue of alcohol and drug abuse as well. Although I do not drink or do drugs, I do not need to in order to understand the effects that they can have on one’s life. Aside from the weight gain and general laziness that they cause, it can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction, and ultimately, the destruction of one’s life. Now I understand the occasional drink, but I will never understand those who drink to get drunk. By doing this, you make yourself vulnerable to doing stupid things. Unfortunately, many Greek organizations condone this behavior. I felt it important to note that this does not reflect my feelings of medicinal marijuana because that has a practical purpose.
I understand many will not like this opinion, but I’m basing everything here off well-known facts. I cannot speak to if any of this has been carried out at Stevens because I do not partake in Greek life as I mentioned earlier. However, it is well documented across college campuses, and it has led to nothing but bad things. At this point, all we can do is hope that changes are made to prevent this destructive behavior and only promote the good aspects of Greek life.