27°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

It’s Time to Dismantle the Greek System

Answering the question of what’s wrong with the United States’ Greek system is a much longer, more arduous process than figuring out the benefits of the system—so I’ll start there.

We’ve all been told what fraternities are apparently supposed to be: social clubs, academic and leadership initiatives, places to build relationships, tools for networking. According to Greek system apologists, the positive externalities of having fraternities be a part of American culture are ultimately realized as a gain to society.

In reality, they could hardly be farther from the truth. Fraternities are advertised as social institutions aimed at bettering society, but the mere fact that members are chosen through audition-like routines that are based on how “popular” they are undermines the basic premise of the entire system. “Hey, we wanna improve society, but you can only help us if you’re really cool.” Like the Guardian’s Lindy West put it, fraternities are “basically, institutional friend groups that you audition to join based on your social capital.”

With a foundation so inherently flawed in its exclusivity, should we really have expected anything more than we have now come to see from fraternities? The answer is no, we shouldn’t. We should expect more unsavory instances like the ones that occurred at the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, Sigma Chi’s chapters at the University of Houston, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s chapters at Furman University, Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho, and countless others over the years.

It’s easy to paint this with a broad brush, but the truth is fraternities have become a cancer on American society, revelling in a culture of racism, classism, gender segregation, casual sexual harassment, and, in numerous instances, rape. The entire U.S. Greek system needs to be severely re-evaluated and hopefully, dismantled.

Just as the public outcry over the University of Oklahoma’s SAE fraternity’s racist chants had reached a crescendo, more news surfaced concerning fraternities and nefarious behavior. This time the culprits were Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho, who are alleged to have posted nude photographs of sleeping or passed-out women onto a private Facebook page.

Unfortunately, such despicable behavior from fraternities has come to be the norm over the years. A quick Google search will reveal the immeasurable amount of bad publicity fraternities have garnered over the years. Due to the pervasive reach of fraternities’ alumni system within the country’s supposedly elite workforce, these are the people who will very soon graduate and hold positions of import and authority within society: racists, misogynists, and sex offenders.

As a result of the nepotism which is also ingrained in the system, this is a real reality.

Fraternities will continue to perpetuate false cultural constructs that encourage oppressive hierarchical stereotypes—placing contemporary conventions of attractiveness, social capital, and socio-economic status above all else.

While the Greek system has produced its fair share of outstanding citizens who have contributed immensely to literature, politics, education, culture, and society in general, the system has lost its way. It’s time we put it out of its misery.