Sexual Assault and Hazing in Greek Organizations on College Campuses

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On December 5th, 1776 at the college of William and Mary the Phi Beta Kappa Society was founded, establishing the precedent for naming American college societies after the Greek-letter initials of a secret Greek motto: Collegiate Greek life was born. The original Greek organizations were formed on the pillars of brotherhood, academia and philanthropy. They had “pretty strict codes of values that were supposed to define the group pledging their allegiance to them” (Hubbard). However, those ideals have abandoned over the course of the past two centuries and have been replaced by rape scandals, violence and sexual abuse. Outdated Greek organizations on modern college campuses create a toxic environment reliant on exclusivity and obedience, and therefore need to be abolished.

Original Greek organizations were founded within colonial colleges’ secret academic societies due to the disapproval of faculty and administrators on the fraternity’s tendency to foster academic debates. Greek organizations were founded in response to the strict curriculum set forth by the college of the era (Bonzo). Impassioned scholars thirsty for knowledge and an outlet to express creative, political and literary matters banded together to in fraternal organizations to discuss a greater variety of topics than were offered in the classroom (Bonzo).

What was once a forum for extracurricular academic debate and inquiry, has become an excuse to hold social gatherings and excessive partying. Modern Greek organizations uphold their reputation as uncontrollable and wild through their exaggerated and frequent partying. Along with the inordinate party scene, modern Greek organizations command obedience from their members through torturous hazing. Even their more constructive values, such as philanthropy and brotherhood, do not coincide with the original purpose of these organizations. Rather than debate and discuss great scholars, members of Greek organizations argue over which Freshmen they should recruit, creating an elitist environment instead of an intellectual one.

Due to their elitist nature, gaining entrance to one of these restrictive organizations is a tremendous challenge; and surviving without sacrificing your morals is a nearly impossible feat. Potential pledges must first endure rush week, where they endure excessive scrutiny and judgement. After enduring the torturous recruitment process there is no safe haven; in fact, pledges will be entering the opposite. Once admitted into a Greek organization pledges must face the hazing process; this is much more prevalent in fraternities versus sororities.

Hazing refers to the practice of rituals, challenges, and other activities involving harassment, abuse, or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group particularly a new fraternity; it forces obedience from the potential members. Hazing is a glaring issue with fraternities because it encourages illegal and dangerous behavior. It is commonly found in the forms of binge drinking and quotas of sexual activities, and while it seems that everyone is participating without consequences, the potential repercussions are deadly. On February fourth, 2017, Tim Piazza, a Freshman at Penn State University, died as a result of hazing (Hubbard). His premature death sparked an uproar in the collegiate community and is a driving force behind the student-driven pushback against Greek organizations.

While the hazing process has had tragic consequences, it is not the only negative facet of Greek organizations. Several students were asked to respond to Piazza’s death, and by doing so they revealed another ghastly piece of fraternities: sexual assault. Sexual assault has become a raging issue on college campuses, especially when it comes to fraternity brothers. In some fraternity chapters, daring behaviors like violence, bring drinking, and sexual misconduct both encourage brotherhood and establish a form of elitism making the brothers feel “untouchable, invincible, and above the law” (Thompson). The combination of “heavy drinking and lowered inhibitions puts individuals at greater risk of sexual assault” (Reyes). While it is true that such environments can and are achieved without the involvement of Greek organizations, studies show that “members of fraternities are three times as likely to commit sexual assault of rape” (Snyder). Greek organizations are allowing and encouraging such outrageous behavior, and they need to stopped. “Getting rid of fraternities won’t get rid of sexual assault on college campuses, but it will drastically help in the effort” (Reyes).

The community of people who support Greek organizations argue that such organizations help to create a sense of camaraderie and provide invaluable connections and opportunities for service. These benefits are essential to a successful and enjoyable college career however they can be achieved without the forum of Greek organizations. Studies show that Greek organizations are actually detrimental to the sense of community on college campuses, and such camaraderie is better achieved through involvement in clubs and organizations (Cheng). Modern college campuses are overflowing with different opportunities. There are clubs that cater to every hobby and passion, and joining these can be an excellent way to meet people with similar interests. Colleges also offer many opportunities for community service and philanthropy, as well as providing students with access to career advancing materials. At SMU there is an entire office dedicated to helping students achieve their dream career. The benefits of Greek organizations are significant, however can be satisfied by various other substitutes, and are outweighed by their negative facets.

Built on the highest standards of scholar and inquiry, Greek organizations have fallen quite far over the course of the past 200 years. What once was a place for scholarly debate is now a place where college students, like Tim Piazza, are getting killed. Greek organizations have become a place where a sense of brotherhood and community comes at a cost of enduring torturous hazing and sacrificing one’s morals; that same camaraderie can be achieved through other clubs on college campuses without the physical, mental and emotional torment. The eradication of Greek organizations is essential because they are causing immense harm without providing any significant benefits.

Cite this paper

Sexual Assault and Hazing in Greek Organizations on College Campuses. (2021, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/sexual-assault-and-hazing-in-greek-organizations-on-college-campuses/

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