Time for fraternities, sororities to change

Nicolas LaMorte, Opinion Editor

From the racist chanting of fraternity members and an unabashedly N-bomb dropping elderly housemother at the University of Oklahoma, to rampant drug and alcohol abuse at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Madison, fraternities have come under recent fire by the public. Many students at Madison College plan to transfer to four-year universities, with UW Madison being at the top of most students’ lists, and there are dozens of fraternities and sororities here to choose from.

The question is: Why should they?

A recent Gallup Poll survey shows that of 30,000 college graduates across the nation, those that joined fraternities and sororities are more likely to be “thriving” than those who did not. These people tend to have had more engaging experiences with mentors and had obtained internships that they were more likely to be suited for, turning knowledge into valued skill. Most powerful and high paid individuals attended frats and sororities. 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives went Greek, 85 percent of the U.S. Supreme Court justices since 1910 have been frat members, as well as 63 percent of all U.S. presidential cabinet members since 1900.

Men who join frats are 300 percent more likely to commit rape and other acts of sexual assault than other men, and women in sororities are 74 percent more likely to be the victims of rape. As more of these disparaging statistics come to light, universities, colleges and chapter leaders are cracking down. But is it enough?

Wesleyan is mandating co-ed integration over the next three years for all fraternities, and supporting anti-sexual assault campaigns, like “yes means yes.” Some fraternities and sororities are banning alcohol outright, and as a result have seen membership enrollment and GPAs increase.

There certainly are benefits in store for the majority of fraternity and sorority members who will graduate from higher education institutions. It must be taken into account that the underlying cause of those nefarious behaviors that generate these appalling statistics probably comes down to two things: substance abuse and social norms. If we continue to expect that “boys will be boys,” and that girls should take extra precaution to avoid becoming their victims, not only will Greek life not change, neither will everyday life.

If you plan on pledging this fall, pledge also to make a difference. Be the man who refuses to be one of “the boys,” and the woman who won’t stand to feel unsafe and out of control. In short, be better. Fraternities and sororities are probably here to stay, but these horrifying statistics don’t have to be.