An outsider’s perspective on Greek life

Columnist Naaman Hightower.

Columnist Naaman Hightower.

My first thoughts on Greek life consisted of “So basically, I’m paying to have friends?” The thought of huge groups of people wearing the same clothes with weird lettering on them? No thank you.

My perception of fraternities and sororities upon first glance was very negative. One of my first encounters with Greek life was during Rush Week. This is when both fraternities and sororities recruit for their particular Greek chapter. From what I gathered, the Chairs (i.e leaders) of the group would treat a recruit like its most prized possession during rush week. Parties, alcohol and fun wereexpected during the seven day adventure. Once you’reaccepted, however, it’s a different story. The stories I’ve heard about initiation or hazing new members was unbelievable.

Why would someone want to make themselves look like less of a person just to join a group? The idea almost sounded cult-like, not to mention how fatal some occurrences end up.

How could we forget Tucker Hipps, who was found dead in a lake after going on fraternity jog with his so-called brothers? I’m sure I wouldn’t end up in a lake if I was around people who had my best interest at heart.

Then comes the issue of sexual assault. In group settings, people are more likely to do thingsthey normally would never chance. In 2014, three sexual assaults occurred at one Texas fraternity in just one month.

Greek life is not all bad, though.
One of the most obvious reasons for joining a Greek organization is the friendship. A college campus can be an imposing environment to students who come from small towns and cities. Intimidated college freshmen who are just edging away from home for the first time beg companionship. Not only do they get assigned a big, they join a family for life who faithfully looks out for them. After all, four years of college can’t become very lonely if one has a few friends.

Greek life has always been positively praised for their community philanthropy. Events such as a city-wide clean up, mentoring at Boys & Girls Clubs, and raising money for children with special needs is always something we need more of. Just last week, several Greek organizations teamed up in Relay For Life, a 12-hour event that raised money to combat cancer. Bonding with fellow sorority sisters and brothers while doing something positive for the world is a huge positive to Greek life.

Last is accountability. Most, if not all, sororities or fraternities have strict guidelines governing their rules of entry. At the very least, a 2.0 grade point average is mandated to even be considered for most organizations. This gives the lost student who is at the end of the rope in his or her academics a reason to keep going. Of course, they should strive for high marks anyway, but who can be mad at an organization that helps keep academic the standard high?
My first reaction to Greek life? Never in a million years. Yet, after learning, witnessing and researching, maybe one day.