Benefits of being Greek not unique

Jeff Schooley

“Go Greek!”


Every year in the fall and spring, the 29 social fraternities and sororities on campus beg, plead, guilt and beguile unsuspecting students into their little orders. Some, of course, go willingly, having dreamed about fraternity or sorority life since they first saw Animal House. Others, though, find themselves new to a campus larger than their hometown and without a genuine friend in sight. It is these poor, troubled masses that fall victim to the alluring smile and offer of fraternities. Yet, the question still remains why should one “Go Greek?”

My answer: One shouldn’t.

The functions provided by fraternities and sororities are not unique to them and therefore can be found in any group or organization. The Greek Life homepage found on the Office of Campus Life Web site gives this reasoning for going Greek:

“Sororities and fraternities provide opportunities for leadership development, scholarship and career development, community service, social interaction and friendship. The skills developed through involvement in a sorority or fraternity can benefit you for years to come, and the friendships formed can be lifelong.”

As wonderful as all these benefits are, the same can be said for Pride! Kent, Habitat for Humanity, The Dive, Kent Interhall Council, Undergraduate Student Senate, Black United Students, Spanish and Latino Student Association and many other organizations on campus. There is not a single unique benefit to going Greek that cannot be found everywhere one looks on campus. There is, however, one unique cost to going Greek and that is the membership dues one must pay to be part of the elite inner circle of boys and girls.

I cannot, of course, sit here and dictate to anyone how he or she should spend his or her money, but I can say there are probably better ways that money could be spent, including and not limited to giving to the poor, buying a new iPod or just saving it to pay off all those federal loans we’re forced to take due to budget cuts in higher education.

Undoubtedly, someone will say, “But Greek life is a great way to do philanthropy!” This brainwashed wastebasket is right. Greek organizations do much for Kent State and the surrounding area. But, once again, so do Habitat, USS, KIC, BUS, most Christian fellowships and countless private students who just opt to help kids read once or twice a week. The philanthropy argument should be seen for what it truly is and that is public relations — effective public relations — but public relations nonetheless. Also, it seems unreasonable, given the long history of partying and hazing in Greek life, to think that one does not join a fraternity for the philanthropic benefits. People who are predisposed to give of their time and resources will do so with or without the benefit of an organization, particularly an organization that is “social” at its core.

This last point brings up an important distinction. I am not criticizing all fraternities and sororities — just the “social” ones. I am actually a proud, non-practicing member of Sigma Tau Delta (the Honors English fraternity). I know of these other fraternities, but these are not the organizations of college-aged movies.

Regardless of their history or intentions, fraternities and sororities cost more than they can possibly ever give and thus they should be avoided. If you’re feeling lonely and looking for a friend, try your next door neighbor, that student group you’ve wanted to check out or just hanging out in the Ratt or at the Rec. You’d be amazed what these little places can mean to you. And in the end, you’ve saved money and haven’t participated in an inherently hypocritical organization.

Jeff Schooley is a graduate student in English and an editorial board member for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].