Greek life not synonymous with depravity
At Rutgers University, greeks have a problem. It is a problem that sororities have excluded themselves from by following their own policies down to the letter, leaving fraternities to take the blame. The culture at this university is one that encourages students to pregame, go out to binge drink and return home late at night, not remembering much of the night. However, the bigger problem here is the expectation. People know that the fraternities will party: We are social organizations, and we will do that. The problem is that people expect fraternal men to be the providers and enablers of their reckless behaviors.
Students at this university go out at night looking for a place to party. They know the fraternities will be having one, and they want to be involved in underage drinking. They find a fraternity party off campus, drink the night away and go home. Sometimes, though, they don’t go home. As rare as it may be, sometimes they pass out, fall, get injured and the one liable is the one serving the alcohol. The fraternities are ultimately to blame for that individual’s injuries and we get sued — we take all the heat.
Is that really fair? Would we not be ridiculed if Rutgers’ drinking culture were different? Fraternities get a reputation for being partiers and alcoholics, but that is not why we exist. We are social organizations, and that cannot be disputed, but we are not the source of this problem. The students at Rutgers have created an environment in which underage drinking is encouraged and fraternities are given the burden of this problem. We do it because everyone does it. All the fraternities throw parties so everyone else will also throw parties. But ultimately, this only hurts fraternities since it leaves us liable for the individuals that attend. No other organization has such a damaging stigma or this expectation placed upon them. Imagine a school where fraternities never throw parties. They only invite their friends and no one else could ever attend. They were exclusive and closed. Upon whom would it fall to provide the student populace with parties to satisfy their weekly cravings?
Even mixers have the potential to pose a problem. Sororities will invite fraternities to their houses for a social event. This will always be non-alcoholic, of course, but they will expect a party after the social event. This party will be exclusively for themselves and the fraternity, where the fraternity provides the alcohol (because we are gentlemen), and we take the risk because it will be at our house, not theirs. This system is flawed, a system that is incredibly risky for fraternities and minimally risky for sororities.
Is there not a problem here? Fraternities exist because of our brotherhood and commitment to be better men, but people have placed unrealistic expectations upon fraternities to be providers of alcohol and parties. This is a culture that is unhealthy, and it is an unsustainable model. I ask the greek community to rethink what they are doing and to understand the ramifications of the events they are hosting. It will catch up soon, and before you know it, we’ll be gone.
Ian Wolf is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history/political science and sociology with minors in criminology and public policy.