Fraternity and Sorority Members
The positive contributions fraternities and sororities make to campuses and their surrounding communities are immeasurable, from sponsoring social events to helping others through volunteerism. However, fraternities and sororities have long endured a stereotype of promoting partying, high-risk drinking, and dangerous hazing practices, reminiscent of the movie “Animal House.” This perception is not completely without merit, as data from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study show that members of Greek organizations drink more frequently and in greater amounts and suffer more adverse consequences of drinking, including poor academic performance, fights, vandalism, injuries, and sexual assault, than the general college population.
The traditional aspects of fraternity and sorority life, including a spirit of kinship, public service, and socializing, are the very qualities many Greek organizations are endorsing to combat high-risk drinking among members and on campus. Working together with fraternity and sorority advisors and campus leadership, there are many steps members are taking to contribute to healthy and safe living and learning environments on campus, including:
- Promoting alcohol-free activities among members and for the campus at large, including volunteer and community service opportunities, leadership workshops, retreats, and social events. Promotional activities should make clear that these events are substance-free.
- Establishing alcohol-free sorority and fraternity houses and prohibiting alcohol in public places.
- Developing social norms campaigns to combat exaggerated misperceptions of drinking.
- Endorsing academic achievement as a key component of sorority and fraternity life, and one that is emphasized during the recruitment process.
- Prohibiting alcohol from rush activities and replacing hazing rituals with positive bonding events, such as team-building and community service activities.
- Banning alcohol industry sponsorship of fraternity and sorority events.
- Communicating campus and community alcohol policies, endorsing alcohol regulations at off-campus events and parties, and educating members about legal liability for breaking policies.
- Assessing members and pledges for drinking problems, and offering alcohol workshops, counseling, and treatment.
As many Greek organizations reemphasize the principles of sister- and brotherhood and service to community that they were founded upon, they are taking steps to reduce their high-volume drinking. In turn, fewer students are rushing fraternities and sororities solely to participate in the perceived “party culture.” As part of a greater environmental management approach to alcohol prevention, the positive impact of these changes in Greek life will benefit the campus as a whole.