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Go Greek or Go Home

Monday, Jan. 6, 2014

The first 20 student comments on "Go Greek or Go Home" win a $5 Yiftee gift certificate to a local business of your choice! Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, January 19th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
Stefano is a freshman at a small college called Hinchley University. Although Hinchley doesn’t recognize Greek life, there are plenty of nationally recognized fraternities and sororities off campus.
Even before Stefano applied to college, he knew he wanted to rush a fraternity. His father was in a fraternity and always told Stefano that he gained valuable life lessons out of his experience that shaped who he became as an individual. When Stefano gets to Hinchley, however, he is disappointed that his father’s fraternity doesn’t have a chapter at his school. He forgets about rushing a fraternity until winter quarter comes around and fraternities host rush week.
Stefano decides to attend rush week to see if he can find an organization that fits his mold. He’s looking for fraternity brothers who care about academics as much as socializing and who walk the talk supporting worthwhile philanthropies. At the end of rush, Stefano thinks he’s found just what he wants in a fraternity called “Alpha Iota.”
Alpha Iota extends Stefano a bid and he accepts. Soon, however, Stefano finds some of his fraternity brothers are not the kind of guys he really wants to hang around with. While a lot of the members are great, several others both publically and privately show disrespect towards other fraternities and all women on and off campus. In addition, there is hostility between the brothers themselves that Stefano didn’t see during rush. He soon finds out it may be from hazing the pledges are forced to undertake.
Only a couple days into his pledge period, on a Monday night, Stefano is locked in a dark basement with his pledge brothers. First, they are instructed to finish a keg of beer amongst the 25 pledges. After this, they are forced to stay awake all night, still locked in the basement, by blasting music and active brothers going around slapping pledges awake who fall asleep.
Stefano finds himself torn. He’d like to belong to a fraternity so that he has a good social network on campus. But should he continue to go through the pledge period to join this exclusive club, even though he doesn’t respect some of the members and he doesn’t feel comfortable with the hazing?
Do you believe the desire to be in a Greek organization—even one that hazes—should outweigh a college student’s moral conscience? If you were forced to do something you didn’t want to do to join an exclusive organization, would you do it? Or would you walk away, knowing that dropping out will affect your social life at college? If you are involved with Greek life, is there something the organization could do that would make you reevaluate your allegiance? If so, what?
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Photo by Donald Harrison available under a Creative Commons license.

Comments Comments

Lauren S. said on Jan 8, 2014
I think that anything that makes a person feel uncomfortable or unsafe is not worth pursuing. On the surface, this decision would seem to affect the student's social life. However, it would prove to him/her that these are not the type of people that would become their true friends anyway. So the person's safety would trump their desire to want to be in a Greek organization. This person just needs to get out and explore other social activities that will allow them to find people that that they can build real friendships with! - Like - 2 people like this.
Justin D. Fitzsimmons said on Jan 12, 2014
A desire to be part of a fraternity should never outweigh your own moral consciousness. Joining a fraternity seems like an inseparable part of the standard college experience, yet this is misguided. Though Stefano's father joined a fraternity, that doesn't have to be a part of his life in college. College is about blazing your own path, and it is more impressive to give up this social network for moral reasons. Additionally, as Lauren said, there are many activities and great people out there that Stefano can meet. Stefano doesn't respect some of the members; why should he join a network of them? Finally, adversity brings people together. Hazing attempts to create this for a pledge class. However, he will find a close group of friends on whom he can rely when he meets real adversity. - Like
Z said on Jan 18, 2014
Stefano is clearly faced with a difficult decision. On one hand, he enjoys the social aspect that becoming a member of the fraternity promises, but on the other, he is turned off by the disrespect of certain brothers as well as the hazing he is undergoing. I should first state that I am not in a fraternity here at SCU, though a majority of my closest friends here are. I believe this gives me the ability to evaluate the situation fairly. My freshman year here, I pledged a fraternity for less than a week before I dropped out knowing that it wasn't for me. While I enjoyed the company of many people there, my values did not align and I knew that I could find a different group of individuals who better aligned with my ideals. I couldn't be happier with my decision, now having found a new group of best friends who happen to be in a different Greek organization. With that being said, I think Stefano's best bet would be to stop the pledge process of the fraternity and re-evaluate who he wants to be friends with. It may turn out (as in my situation) that his new friends are in a different fraternity. If this was the case, maybe he would want to join a different one the following year. Hazing is supposed to be used for the purpose of bringing individuals together and strengthening brotherhood. If this practice is abused without a purpose, there is no reason whatsoever that the desire to be in a Greek organization should outweigh one's moral consciousness. If I was forced to do something I did not want to in order to be able to join an organization, I would only do it if I was sure that being in the organization was worth it, and also if it didn't go against my values. While social life is extremely important, joining Greek life is not the only way to have a positive experience. There are a number of clubs and organizations that do not haze that individuals such as Stefano may fit in with. Furthermore, Stefano could do what I have done by deciding not to join a fraternity, but still befriending many of the members. I believe this to be the ultimate solution in the case of Stefano. - Like
LD said on Jan 18, 2014
I think that most of the time being uncomfortable doing certain things such as hazing or disrespecting women and you are uncomfortable with it then it is not worth it. I'm many cases there are certain things that se times when you are uncomfortable with it such as certain social events or other things of that nature then it is ok to undergo. But in this specific scenario I believe that the lack of Comfort doing these things shows a consciencious person who understands morals and will stand by their beliefs. Many times this is a better judgement than just undergoing the acts to become part of an exclusive club. I do not think I would personally undergo such acts in order to belong because I would not desire to be around people who could do such things. - Like
Maggie said on Jan 20, 2014
I think college should be an environment where a student can feel comfortable being different and where peer pressure isn't condoned. If it was me, I would think about it for a while on whether I want to join, whether the pros outweighs the cons. Sometimes change can happen from within. Stefano, should he continue and eventually join the fraternity, would have to make the most out of it; try to change things and work within the system to change the system. I think the alternative, if Stefano doesn't put his full heart and effort into joining and redeeming the most use out of the fraternity (and making and impact within the fraternity) Stefano should opt out. Not everything in life is picture perfect, and Stefano needs to decide whether the things he has seen is an acceptable level of negative. And opting out isn't bad thing either. I think that even if a student doesn't join a fraternity, they're missing out on one type of experience, but there are plenty of other experiences in the forms of clubs and organizations on and off campus to join and learn from. - Like
Thomas said on Jan 20, 2014
I think that nothing should outweigh a person's moral conscience. If Stefano doesn't feel comfortable in the fraternity, then there are many other ways for him to be socially active. He could join other clubs/groups instead. If I were in Stefano's position, I would walk away and find another group of friends that I felt more morally comfortable with. Walking away is not going to negatively affect Stefano's social life anyway. - Like
Sydney said on Feb 10, 2014
I don't believe that the desire to be in a Greek organization should outweigh one's morals. The hazing process alone of joining Greek organizations can be immoral depending on the challenges create. Personally if I were forced to do something immoral or something I didn't want to do simply to join an exclusive organization I wouldn't do it. I would rather respect myself and stick to my own personal standards than stoop down to somebody else's level just to have a title and tell people I am in an exclusive club. Even if dropping out of the exclusive club meant that I would lose my ranking on the social status, my theory is you can always find people who share the same views as you. Odds are there are several other people who disagree with the ways of Greek organizations and would be willing to accept you for you who truly are and maybe even respect you more for standing up for yourself. - Like
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