Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

It’s time to find alternatives to Greek life

UMass party culture revolves around fraternities, but is it time to step away?
Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian (2021)

College has always advertised to me as a fresh start. No one knows who you are so you can come to a new space to create a new lifestyle, group of friends and sense of self. The first semester of college is full of trying new things and enjoying the excitement of opportunity, but it can also be terrifying. It is often the first real test of adulthood for students so its easy to feel lost and alone in a large setting.

Second semester, students often feel more pressure to find a solid group of friends. If you didn’t like your first semester friends and want to explore more, you might try involving yourself in college communities that you didn’t originally plan on participating in. The search for friends at the University of Massachusetts can lead many students to rush Greek life.

Last week was rush week at UMass: the recruitment process for trying to join a fraternity or sorority. Students try to figure out what fraternity calls to them and fraternities get to see what kind of individuals they want to join their elite community. You put your best self out there to impress brothers and sisters while simultaneously conforming to the people around you, so you impress the current members but still seem a part of the community.

While clubs and organizations tend to focus on shared hobbies, passions or interests, fraternities and sororities focus on your character. The acceptance into Greek life is the acceptance of you.

Greek life has a bad reputation, specifically fraternities. To become a brother, students often submit themselves to hazing practices as a pledge that they are ready to be a member. Hazing can include dangerous activities such as drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Although the University has prohibited hazing, fraternities often still practice the process because they know they can get away with it. Greek life on campus has stood from countless controversiesbecause of the financial gain fraternities bring to the school. But if it takes dangerous pledges to be admitted to a community with a bad reputation, why would someone be attracted to Greek life?

It is impossible to ignore the influence of fraternities on a campus like UMass. It’s not hard to find a fraternity throwing a party on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. Greek life is the epicenter of fun at UMass. If you don’t know where to drink, play games or dance with your friends, than a fraternity house is the default destination. I know many people who thought they would never step foot into a frat house, but eventually gave in because everyone else was going there.

It can be upsetting to think about how fraternities still stand despite the trouble they’ve caused because college students don’t know, or don’t want, to find new places to have fun. The lack of other communities on campus that focus on fun and making new friends fuels the admits of Greek life. If you’re the second-semester freshman who wants to make new connections but doesn’t know where to start, why not turn to the largest influence on campus?

Fraternities will likely never go away. Greek life in the United States is older than this UMass’ existence. If fraternities were held accountable for hazing or sexual assault, then they would’ve likely been banned a while ago. If universities want to discourage students from participating in Greek life, they must give them options that are more appealing than fraternities. There needs to be more clubs and organizations that focus on building school spirit and making friendships.

Many people think universities need to be held responsible for permitting fraternities’ behaviors. While I agree that the school should have more involvement with what happens on and off campus, I believe people are underestimating student impact. Students are responsible for keeping fraternities alive by attending them every weekend. If you do not support frat behavior, then you do not have to go. You can also explain to your peers why you do not support Greek life. Students can do more to stand against frat activity by creating spaces for those who want to build connections like in Greek life, but without the dangerous practices of those in Greek life.

Banning fraternities will not end sexual assault on campus, nor will it end underage drinking on campus. But if students come together to reject the old traditions of Greek life, they can make a community that supports an alternative to fraternity culture and make a small home out of a big school.

Sophia Hutcheson can be reached at [email protected].

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