For nearly two centuries, college campuses have used Greek life as a way for students to make new memories and find their forever friendships. Throughout the years, however, the core values of Greek life on college campuses have diminished.
Students on college campuses across the country have started seeing Greek life as racist and discriminatory. Some even say it promotes the use of alcohol, drugs and sexual violence. These students have started asking themselves why Greek life is on their campus if it promotes such negativity with their peers.
Student concerns regarding the existence of Greek life on campus tie back to the roots of why Greek life was first created. Fraternities started in the 1800s and sororities followed. Though the reasoning for each fraternity or sorority was determined by its founders, some had less pure intentions than others.
Some fraternities began in order to allow upper class men to exclude themselves from others around them and use their privilege against others. Some sororities, similarly, were a place for women to have secret societies where they would talk about drama, gossip, politics and anything else they were not allowed to say in public. Both groups started with predominantly white members and stayed that way for years to follow.
This sentiment still lingers for some fraternities and sororities, and as a result, some of the larger college campuses around the United States, including Vanderbilt and The University of Pennsylvania, have called to abolish Greek life on their campuses. Students on these campuses are seeing illegal activity and cultural appropriation stemming from Greek life.
But this isn’t true for all schools. Greek life is supposed to be focused on philanthropy, community service and building character. Though for some colleges, this is not the case, for others, it is.
As a first-year student who went through formal recruitment, I have learned plenty about the values of Albion sororities. Greek life values include academics, philanthropy, character development and other principles aligned with the original mission of Panhellenic societies. Rushing at Albion has been an exciting and promising decision for myself.
Others find themselves in the same position as I do, seeing the good Greek life has to offer on Albion’s campus.
Sydney Archer, a senior from Holland, has been involved in Greek life since she was a first-year and is proud of increasing diversity in Greek life.
“I’m proud to be in an organization that supports one another despite our past,” said Archer. “Our community is constantly becoming better, and everyone is learning from one another. There are no excuses from our past, but we have helped pick each other up and stay gracious. We keep striving.”
According to Archer, all the houses have a kinship that is like family.
“It is hard to describe, but I have learned how to be a great sister and be supportive of everyone,” said Archer.
One reason I found going through recruitment at Albion to be a good decision for myself was because of the amount of support individuals are given. Throughout the process of recruitment, I learned how much Greek life can help students academically and socially. I have also learned how much the houses give back to the community.
Jackson Cooney, a sophomore from Northville, is a member of Alpha Tau Omega. Like Archer and myself, Cooney said he values the aspect of philanthropy in Albion’s Greek life.
“Each house has a philanthropy event, for example, we host a volleyball tournament and the money is donated to a foundation,” said Cooney.
Outside of philanthropy, Archer said that Greek life has aided her throughout her time at Albion.
“It has helped me never be alone, I have always had someone supporting me,” said Archer. “The longer I have been in Greek life the more it has helped me. Being in a sorority has helped me with my morals, we talk about them in the house and it has helped me become a better person.”
Though some fraternities and sororities may have initiated as a way to keep members’ worlds small, Archer said that being involved in her sorority has also helped her expand perspective on the world.
“I have learned crucial things about justice and new things that are outside myself,” said Archer. “It will change your mentality going forward, and it changes your perspective.”
Archer also said that being a part of a sorority sisterhood is completely different than having a sister. Though early sororities, in the form of secret societies, may have provided members with a disconnect from society, Archer said that being a part of a sorority has helped her learn how to connect with people.
Similarly, Cooney said that he is happy to embrace the brotherhood aspect of his fraternity as well as the support that derives from that.
“I knew everyone would be close when I joined because we all live together, but the brotherhood is even better than I thought,” said Cooney.
On Albion’s campus, Greek life creates a space for all people. When members feel that they don’t have anything else, they have the Greek life community to support them.
Ultimately, Albion’s sororities have a common goal, one that contrasts the isolating goal of some of the original Greek life organizations, according to Archer.
“Promoting positivity on campus and trying to create more diversity within the houses is important to every house,” said Archer. “We are helping every individual become better people.”
The fraternities have a similar goal for the men living in the houses.
“The e-board has helped shape the guys into leaders. Now, when we go to our future jobs, we will know how to lead,” said Cooney.
Schools across the United States working to abolish Greek life have their reasons. They have racism and legal troubles within their Greek life houses, But Albion College Greek Life does not discriminate. Instead, Albion uses Greek life as a support system for students where they can help one another, serve their community and grow into leaders.