Colleges with Non-Stereotypical Greek Life

There is the Animal House stereotype of Greek life (extreme and/or coerced alcohol use, exclusivity, hazing, hookup culture, etc). There have been multiple cases that have popped up in the media of hazing deaths and alcohol poisoning. There are also the cases where rushing (particularly at SEC schools) is a big to-do with thousands of dollars spent on outfits and coaches, etc. And the image is that chapters tend to be very monoracial (white and wealthy or black, with little in-between). All of the above are what I consider to be the stereotypical (typical?) Greek life experience at U.S. colleges.

I have learned, however, that Greek life is very university-dependent. At Washington & Lee where I think more than 70% of students go Greek, parents like @DramaMama have said that the university is much more controlling because so much of the study body does go Greek, that membership fees are included in the cost of attendance for financial aid, and the chapters are much more racially inclusive.

I’m looking to see if there are colleges with Greek life (particularly when it’s a significant portion of the student body) where the reality is not matching up with the stereotypical image. Perhaps there are no residential fraternities/sororities, or the residential ones are housed on regular dorm floors. Perhaps there is no hierarchy of desirable chapters and the negative factors associated with hierarchies. Perhaps there is truly a no-hazing culture. Perhaps frat parties involve little to no alcohol. Etc, etc, etc.

And not to make Greek life sound all bad, I am aware that most chapters do extensive community service, students tend to have higher GPAs and graduation rates than their non-Greek peers, and there can be lifelong ties of brotherhood/sisterhood among the members. I’m curious to find out about places where these positives happen without all the stereotypical negatives.

Greek Organizations : Washington and Lee University has links to some chapter web sites (as well as some national web sites and broken links). While some chapters do seem to have photos showing racial diversity and inclusiveness on their home pages, the photos showing the entire chapter memberships give the impression of much less diversity within most chapters. But then that may be because WLU has relatively low racial and ethnic diversity to begin with, probably for reasons not related to fraternities and sororities.

I think that it is different at different school. Many school do have the greek housing either on campus (in dorms) or the university owns the land or the houses on the land. Alabama owns the land the houses (owned by the Chapters) and have certain arrangement for meal plans for freshmen who join houses, etc. but that doesn’t make them any calmer than at schools where the housing is entirely separate or off campus, or even at schools that have no Greek housing at all.

The 26 sororities in the NPC have as many rules as any dorm - no alcohol so very few parties held in the houses. Not saying girls don’t sneak alcohol in (as they do in dorms) but it is a pretty serious offense. I doubt you’d say any of them are Animal House types. Now what those same women do outside the house, or at a frat house…? But they’d be doing that if they lived in a dorm or belonged to the band or the newspaper club or student government too - it’s being in college.

At most schools, the Greek population is a very small group. You may hear about them more since they are usually pretty involved in activities on campus, and because they often have big houses on or near campus so are visible, but even at big schools they may only have 10% of the students as members.

Wesleyan - Not a majority of students by any means; I’d be surprised if it included more than 10% of the men. But, Psi U and DKE have their own houses, plus there are a couple of home-grown Wesleyan “secret societies” and something called, “literary societies” at least one of which has a magnificent house and runs an eating club (unlike, Princeton, the eating clubs at Wesleyan are open to all students.) And, nearly all of them, with the possible exception of DKE, are co-ed.

WPI. I was amazed by how supportive of each other all for their Greek houses are, how close the members are and how not an issue it is who is greek and who isn’t.

This may sound weird, but as DS mentioned “possibly” joining a fraternity I did some snooping on Now, please do not take this website seriously. I wasn’t looking at “rank”. But it did give me some sense of greek life at different universities. Basically what you would expect at many schools if you go by the typical stereotype.

The surprises? WPI and RIT (in terms of national sororities and fraternities)

Some of the REALLY small LACs do “greek” differently. One that comes to mind is Cornell College in Iowa. All greek organizations are non-residential local ( as opposed to national) chapters. Most are based on some type of service.

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Denison is an interesting example of a school where there are no residential fraternities or sororities. The members live in the dorms along with everyone else, with no specifically allocated space. Until 1995, Greek life was residential, and the school’s decision to move members out of the houses was apparently very controversial. The old fraternity and sorority houses remain as a part of the campus, and the chapters are able to hold meetings there, but otherwise the Greek houses are now used as regular dorms. Greek life is still active at Denison, but it has been my impression that keeping it nonresidential helps discourages exclusivity. My son’s roommates for the past two years are both in a frat, for example, although he is not.

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