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The Evil of Fraternities & Sororities
Are "Secret" Societies Evil? (Epsilon-V-Iota-Lambda)
Ingroup Bias--a psychological impediment to cogent reasoning.
- Members of fraternities and sororities implicitly favor members of other Greek organizations over people involved in academic and service groups when taking the Implicit Associations Test (Wells & Corts, 2008).
Hierarchical Environment Conducive to Hazing
- A 1998 police report charges several Western Illinois University Delta Sigma Thetas with kicking a rushee, ripping her hairpiece off of her head and cramming it in her mouth. The rushee was also forced to eat whole raw onions, hot peppers and hot sauce until she vomited. She was forced to do 1000 sit ups and to exercise until "the skin on her behind cracked." She was forced to crawl on her elbows across cornflakes until she bled and then was forced to eat the bloody cereal. (Nuwer, 1999)
- 15 miles from the University of Richmond, at Virginia Union University a Zeta Phi Beta pledge was struck with a paddle 35 times. She was taken to the hospital and seven Zeta sisters were convicted of misdemeanor hazing. (Williams 2003).
- At the University of Easter Illinois, Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sisters abandoned a pledge on a back road three miles from the school. In an attempt not to be left behind the pledge lunged toward the car. The driver swerved and hit the abandoned pledge. The sisters drove away laughing. The pledge died of head injuries. (Nuwer, 1999). p.260
- At Minnesota’s Concordia College pledges were driven blindfolded into Fargo, North Dakota, and left in the woods in knee deep snow. The pledges made it back to campus the sorority sisters made fun of one pledges frostbitten foot that was too swollen to fit into her shoe. They made her stand in front of the rest of the sorority while they made fun of her foot and made her “moo.” Later she had to endure months of painful procedures in order to save her toes. P.260 (Vargas, Sawyer, Donaldson, 1999).
- After repeatedly being reassured by sisters of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority that their chapter was opposed to hazing, pledges at Arizona University were divided into five groups and taken into different rooms of the sorority house. In one room, they were questioned by the sorority sisters, and if they got a question wrong they had to drink straight shots of vodka. In another room they were shown a table with a permanent marker, a hammer, a knife, and a dildo on display. The sisters told them, “We are going to ask you questions, and if you get them wrong, we will violate you with your weapon of choice.” (Mohoney, 1999). P.271
- Several sorority girls self reported that during rush they were taken to the upstairs of the sorority house where they were told to take off their shirts and bras. The pledges were told by the sisters that they were going to be lined up in order of breast size. What the pledges didn’t know was that they were actually being lined up according to their attitude. If a pledge tried to insert herself at the large end of the lineup because she thought she had large breasts, the sisters would laugh and move her to the small end. P. 258 (Robbins, 2004).
Conformity: "Creatures of the situation, of the moment, of the mob."
- Members of sororities were observed participating in mass piercings in which groups of sorority girls would go to piercing salons and get varoius parts of their anatomy pierced. (Robbins, 2004) p. 22
- At what is referred to as, “one large Virginia school,” chapters of Alpha Phi and Zeta Tau Alpha hold events cleverly titled “Naked Parties.”At these parties sorority sisters dress each other up in very revealing and unattractive clothing. Sometimes plastic trash bags or cardboard boxes. The sisters are encouraged to drink heavily and disrobe one another. This is one instance when it is acceptable for the sisters to kiss each other. Later in the evening fraternity brothers are allowed to attend the party. Robins reports, “By the time boys are allowed to walk in the door they are thrilled to find naked girls kissing.” --Hardly seems evil to me? p 276(Robbins, 2004).
- A study in the Journal of College Student Development found that compared to non-greeks, Greeks, “had significantly less independence, liberalism, social conscientiousness, and cultural sophistication than the independent students, and tended to be higher in sociability, hedonism, self confidence, and social conformity.” (Atlas and Morier, 1994).
- This study supports one done at the University of Colorado in the 1960’s that found that, “sorority sisters valued independence less and loyalty to the group more than non-Greek women. They also scored lower when rated on values of kindness.” P. 321 (Scott, 1965)
Drinking BehaviorStudies suggest that undergraduate students, especially men, who decide to join Greek organizations are significantly more likely to increase their alcohol use and to experience problems associated with alcohol abuse during their first two years of college than those who are not involved in the college Greek life system (Capone, Wood, Borsari, & Laird, 2007).
- Current research also suggests that Greek members consume alcohol in greater quantities than the general college population, tend to underemphasize and fail to fully understand the risks of alcohol abuse, and through their Greek organizations create a "social environment and culture" that revolves around drinking as a significant part of everyday life (Barry, 2007).
- Students involved in Greek life are at an increased risk for experiencing alcohol-related problems resulting in hangovers, academic difficulties, blackouts, and even being taken advantage of sexually (Turrisi, Mallett, Mastroleo, & Larimer, 2006).
- Members of fraternities and sororities are also significantly more likely to own a fake id than other college undergraduates. Additionally, results also showed that students who owned fake ids were more likely to engage in repeated heavy drinking and to report drinking habits which increased in strength over time (Martinez, Rutledge, & Sher, 2007).
- Much greater numbers of men and women in sororities and fraternities (70% of men, and 50% of women) report engaging in binge-drinking behavior (consuming five or more drinks during a single drinking occasion for men, or four or more for women) than those in the general college population (McCabe et al., 2005).
Male Centered Activities in Sororities
- Pressure to find male dates that meet the other sorority sister's standards put pressure on girls to find "the perfect date" and cause some to report spending "too much time crying over dates." (Robbins, 2004) p. 84
- In addition to these self-reported pressures, a recent study at Bucknell University found that members of Greek organizations rated their most important goals as "being happy," "being in love," and "having a life partner/spouse," (Abowitz, & Knox, 2003).
- Sororities that pair with fraternities for socials and homecoming events, etc. often have to court the fraternities. No sorority wants to end up with the "loser" fraternity. As part of the courting process sorority sisters are often led by their exec boards (sisters in charge) to serenade the frat houses. The girls line up outside the frat house and sing songs that often consist of, "crude rewritten lyrics about sex, smoking, and drinking, sung to the tune of a non-melodically challenging pop song."
- Example serenade song from Alpha Sigma Alpha:
Take me up to a fraternity house,
take me up to your room.
Buy me some beer and vodka too.
take me up to your room.
Buy me some beer and vodka too.
- Get me drunk and I'll surely screw you,
for it's grunt, grunt, grunt goes the Alpha Sigma as the [fraternity name] shoves it in.
For it's one, two, three times a night, thanks for getting me laid!
(Robbins, 2004) p. 42
- Kappa Kappa Gamma and many other sororites hold "candlelight ceremonies," ritualized male worship which centers around getting, "pinned" (pre-engaged--whatever that is), "lavaliered" (asked to be a girlfriend) or "engaged." During the ceremony a candle is passed around a circle of sorority girls. The girls sing their sororities candlelight song. If a girl blows the candle out on the first round that means she is "lavaliered," on the 2nd "pinned" and on the 3rd "engaged."
- One Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna recalls, "It was my dream to have [a candle ceremony] but it didn't come true."
- Sample candlelight song that all girls sing, even the ones without dominant male partners:
I found my man, he's a Kappa man,
He's my sweetheart forever more.
I'll leave him never, I'll follow wherever he goes. (Robbins, 2004) p.86
Superficial Recruitment System: Classism and Racism...
- According to an article in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, when comparing black and white sororities, all of the black sorority sisters interviewed said that community service took up a lot of their sorority time, while the white groups said that relationships and date events such as socials took up most of their sorority time.One researcher noted that while the white sororities have elaborate ceremonies the different stages of relationships. P. 242 (Berkowitz and Padavic, 1999).
- “Until the 1960’s most white sororites were contractually obligated to refuse membership to nonwhites.” (Robbins, 2004) p240
- When asked about a black pledge not being able to get into a white sorority, even after meeting all the right people and having the right letters of recommendation, the vice president of Student Affairs at Alabama University, Kathleen Cramer, who had also been the president of Kappa Kappa Gamma when she attended the university said that, “This is a system steeped in tradition, and I think that’s part of the problem. Chapters are afraid to go first. I think there’s a unarticulated pressure towards sameness, which fosters racism and a homogeneity they’ll never see the rest of their lives.” (Robbins, 2004). P.237
- Pat Herman, a professor at Alabama University said of the racist sororities at Alabama, “This is the only social group we allow to discriminate on the basis of race. It’s illegal, it’s immoral, it’s imprudent.” He said that one of the members of the board of trustees explained the segregation by commenting that, “We’re not going to turn our fraternities and sororities into places where just any n*** could get in.” (Robbins, 2004, p .238; quote edited to remove hate speech).
- Based on a meta-analysis of more than 13 studies of over 3,000 men, members of fraternities were significantly more likely to accept common rape myths such as "if a woman is wearing a short skirt she is asking to be raped," (Murnen & Kohlman, 2007).
- This same meta-analysis also looked at data from 15 studies with over 5,000 individuals and found that fraternity membership was significantly associated with increased self-report of sexual aggression (Murnen & Kohlman, 2007).
Stereotypical Gender Attitudes and Homophobia
- A recent study by researchers at the University of Texas and Louisiana Tech University found that members of fraternities are more likely to hold stereotypical gender attitudes than members of sororities and students who were not involved in Greek life (Robinson, Gibson-Beverly, & Schwartz, 2004). In particular, these beliefs included an increased acceptance of negative stereotypes of women and heterosexual violence towards women. These same men were also more likely to endorse having casual sex with women, to reject women's ability as political leaders, tp oppose women's rights, and to believe that job roles should be determined by gender.
- A 1990 study from Harvard suggests that 80 percent of college women who self-induce vomiting are sorority girls. (Meilman, Frank, and Gaylor, 1991).
- Tri Delts at what is described as a "large mid-atlantic university" self reported that they often took Xenadrine, laxatives and/or diet pills. Plumbers came to the house once a month to clean out pipes clogged with vomit. Other sororities at other schools self reported similar behavior. ( Robbins, 2004) p.28
ReferencesAbowitz, D., & Knox, D. (2003). Life goals among Greek college students. College Student Journal, 37, 96-99.
Atlas, G., and D. Morier. “The Sorority Rush Process: Self-Selection, Acceptance Criteria, and the Effect of Rejection.” Journal of College Student Development. Vol.35 (September 1994).
Barry, A. (2007). Using theory-based constructs to explore the impact of Greek membership on alcohol-related beliefs and behaviors: A systematic literature review. Journal of American College Health, 56, 307-315.
Berkowitz, Alexandra, and Irene Padavic. “Getting a Man or Getting Ahead: A Comparison of White and Black Sororities.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Vol.27 (1999): 530-557.
Capone, C., Wood, M., Borsari, B., & Laird, R. (2007). Fraternity and sorority involvement, social influences, and alcohol use among college students: A prospective examination. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21, 316-327.
Mahoney, Erin. “Ex-Sorority Member Alleges Harassment.” Arizona Daily Wildcat. August 26, 1999.
Martinez, J., Rutledge, P., & Sher, K. (2007). Fake ID ownership and heavy drinking in underage college students: Prospective findings. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21, 226-232.
McCabe, S. E., Schulenberg. J. E., Johnston, L. D., O'Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Kloska. D. D. (2005). Selection and socialization effects of fraternities and sororities on U.S. college student substance use: A multi-cohort national longitudinal study. Addiction, 100, 512-524.
Meilman, P. W., Von Hippel, F.A., & and Gaylor, M.S. (1991). Self induced vomiting in college women: It's relation to eating, alcohol use, and greek life. Journal of American College Health, 40, page #s?
Murnen, S., & Kohlman, M. (2007). Athletic participation, fraternity membership, and sexual aggression among college men: A meta-analytic review. Sex Roles, 57, 145-157. .
Nuwer, H. (1999). Wrongs of passage: Fraternities, sororities, hazing, and binge drinking. Indiana, IN: Indiana University Press.
Robbins, A. (2004). Pledged.The secret life of sororities. New York, NY: Hyperion.
Robinson, D., Gibson-Beverly, G., & Schwartz, J. (2004). Sorority and fraternity membership and religious behaviors: Relation to gender attitudes. Sex Roles, 50, 871-877.
Scott, William A., with the collaboration of Ruth Scott. Values and Organizations: A Study of Fraternities and Sororities. Chicago: Rand McNally and Company, 1965.
Turrisi, R., Mallett, K., Mastroleo, N., & Larimer, M. (2006). Heavy Drinking in College Students: Who is at Risk and What is Being Done About It?. Journal of General Psychology, 133, 401-420.
Vargas, Elizabeth, Diane Sawyer, and Sam Donaldson. “Sorority Hazing: Tales of Abusive Initiation Rituals.” ABC 20/20. April 18, 1999.
Wells, B. & Corts, D. P. (2008). Measuring attitudes towards sorority and fraternity members: Indication of implicit, ingroup favoritism. College Student Journal, 42, 842-846.
Williams, Paul. "VUU Sorority Chapter suspended for Hazing." Richmond Times Dispatch. April 3, 2003.
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