The dark side of greek life: shedding light on the humiliations that await prospective pledges

On the surface, participating in Greek life seems to be an innocent and quick way to network and make lifelong friends. What people often fail to notice, however, is the dark history associated with these organizations. Everyone wants friends and some people are willing to pay for them, but all too often those people don’t realize what they’re funding. Despite the evidence presented to the public, the option of joining a chapter is still a tempting one. Popularity and a sense of belonging can be a difficult addiction to shake. 

Greek life chapters have been around since as early as the 1800s and some have disturbing connections to rape. A quick Google search on the history of sexual assault within the UC system alone yields dozens of articles citing instances of assault that have occured within the last decade at almost all of the UC schools. Nationwide, “Frat brothers rape 300% more. One in five women is sexually assaulted on campus.” 

The very first Greek letter social society that was considered an all-male fraternity was founded in 1824. When comparing the history to the statistics, one can only imagine the number of men and women who have fallen victim to these barbaric crimes of sexual assault over the last two centuries.

To make matters worse, even if one wanted to join these groups, they have to go through the grueling process of having their self-worth measured out in front of them. “Rushing,” which is the act of putting yourself on display for a chance for these groups to “bid” on you, is especially demeaning to young women as it includes hours upon hours of interviewing just to see if these girls have the right look to be a part of the chapter. Due to this shallow ritual, many girls don’t make it to bid day, meaning all of the friendships they’ve built up to that point were meaningless because they didn’t make the cut.

If these groups want ideal women, they shouldn’t judge prospective members by their appearances. Candidates should be judged based on the contents of their brain. People with their own individual personalities are forced to assimilate to the culture of the chapter, oftentimes abandoning their morals and innocence. New members are groomed each year to uphold these superficial standards of appearance and behavior, only continuing the cycle for future generations.

As if tearing down someone’s self esteem was not enough, Greek life makes many young men and women pledge their loyalty in distasteful ways. The topic of hazing is a very touchy one on many college campuses, but in the world of Greek life, hazing is a mandatory rite of passage required of anyone who wants to enter the chapter of their choosing. Humiliation is Greek life’s weapon of choice when it comes to instilling loyalty in people.

Girls and boys will get down on their knees in front of everyone at a party and chug alcohol to the point of vomiting. It seems like as long as no one gets killed, anything goes. It is often assumed that excessive hazing is a thing of the past, but people fail to recognize that there have been deaths as recent as last year. In 2018, a pledge from UCR’s Alpha Phi Alpha fell victim to hazing. Although the frat was officially dismissed from the UCR campus, they are still organized and have parties frequently, putting so many other young adults in danger of meeting the same unfortunate fate. The risks aren’t worth growing one’s social group and doing philanthropy twice a month. Many of these organizations hide behind philanthropy in order to conceal their main goal of living out their party lifestyle and maintaining a high social status.

Many people will argue that Greek life is not in and of itself bad, and that it was just a few bad apples that ruined it for everyone, but the frequent accusations of sexual assault and the numerous reports of hazing casualties suggest that these issues are indeed interwoven into the fabric of Greek life. The UC system, including UCR, prides itself on being forward thinking and inclusive, but these issues are happening right under their noses. Until people learn that they do not need to pay for validation, this harmful cycle will continue for centuries to come.

 

Correction 10.29.19 2:26 PM: The alleged “hazing victim” was erroneously cited as being a member of Phi Alpha Phi. This was changed to reflect the fraternity he was actually pledging: Alpha Phi Alpha. The Highlander regrets this mistake.

Correction 10.29.19 7:00 PM: Furthermore, the alleged “hazing victim” was originally described as a member of the fraternity mentioned. To clarify, the student was a pledge of the fraternity and the article has been revised to reflect that. The Highlander regrets this mistake. 

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