ollege, in its worse moments, reminds us of high school. We must listen and we must obey and hope our professors deem our efforts worthy of their approbation and grades.
Yet there are differences. The student body is large enough to allow us to meet people with our interests and to avoid those we would rather not know.
Nonetheless, there are social realities that we can either accept or work to change. One option is to join Greek life. Many people do, but why? Let us put aside pleasant phrases about cooperation, team building and so on. The personal costs far outweigh the benefits. After all, we do not say prison is good because you get to work out a lot and get in shape.
These groups, in fact, perpetuate all the worst parts of high school. You have to beg to become a part of them. To join, all you need to do is put up with abuse from other slightly older human beings (hazing) who get to indulge their teenage desires for violence and bullying. If you can demean yourself enough to survive this, you can then join this bunch of Neanderthals and get to do the same thing to others next year. No one seems to see how profoundly awful this practice is. They may say it builds solidarity, but solidarity is a natural human inclination. It need not be tested by torture. In a rational institution these people would be ignored if not expelled.
Of course, these houses are by their very nature exclusionary. You spend time with a certain group of people for the rest of the year. Do you base this decision on their qualities and achievements? No, they just happen to share Greek letters.
Why is there more drinking and drug-taking by those in fraternities or sororities than those who are not? Whenever you are required to hang out with people with whom you have no real interests in common, drinking will seem like a great idea. It is the same reason I used to drink so much when I lived with my parents. Only at least they didn’t shout “chug” while I was doing it.
I suggest socializing with people with common interests, not common letters.
Adam Bird-Ridnell is a junior majoring in history and philosophy. He may be contacted at email@example.com.