Reframing the Socialization of Greek Life

By Butler, O. Darryl | Black Issues in Higher Education, September 2, 1999 | Go to article overview

Reframing the Socialization of Greek Life


Butler, O. Darryl, Black Issues in Higher Education


Today, several institutions of higher learning are considering excluding single-sex fraternities and sororities from their campuses. Dartmouth College's quest to abolish all-male and all-female Greek arrangements from their campus and substitute them with a coeducational model constrains the formal socialization among the sexes. The collegiate landscape indeed has become complex with a myriad of ancillary vehicles linked to an academic mission, however barring single-sex organizations is not the answer to improving the quality of campus life.

The National InterFraternity Conference (NIC), National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) represent 99 national and international men's and women's fraternities with more than 700,000 undergraduate members in chapters on 800 campuses in the United States and Canada. More than 10,000,000 alumni can boast of the accolades of their memberships and accomplishments in society. The basic tenets of most Greek letter organizations include service, scholarship, fellowship, brotherhood, and sisterhood. Greeks have united people from various racial, religious, and socio-political backgrounds within a context of principals, rituals, and beliefs.

Yes, many organizations have their darker side of rambunctious behavior and undesirable conduct, however college educators must challenge -- firmly -- violations of university policy without hesitation. Furthermore, the student Greek leadership must police itself, and remove members who are not fulfilling their obligations and who jeopardize their organization's existence.

But the premise that barring single-sex fraternities and sororities will resolve binge drinking, eliminate hazing, improve the socialization between genders, and serve as a powerful antidote to some complex problems is one that may only provide topical relief. …

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