Earlier this year, the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton banned alcohol at all Greek Life events after a junior was hospitalized from falling over a stairway railing at a fraternity house. The injured student and other minors had been illegally drinking alcohol provided to them by older students.
UNT isn’t the first university to have one or more of their students injured or killed as a result of high alcohol consumption in the Greek community. Of course, alcohol is consumed by non-Greeks at non-Greek parties, too. But in the Greek community, alcohol is also a central or contributing element in the hazing of pledges or new members.
According to a 2000 Harvard survey, four out of five fraternity and sorority members in the U.S. are binge drinkers while Hazingprevention.org reports that 82 percent of hazing-related deaths involve alcohol. Binge drinking in the Greek community, whether at parties or through hazing, also commonly results in violent behavior, including sexual assault.
Despite the Greek community’s growing bad rep, not all Greek organizations practice dangerous behaviors. There are still many fraternities and sororities that maintain the positive ideals that Greek organizations represent, including leadership, the bonds of brotherhood or sisterhood, and promoting the development of social competence. In fact, being part of a Greek organization can help you grow as a person and contribute to your success during and after college, whether through leadership skills gained, bonds and connections made, or philanthropic contributions made to your community.
Whether you join a Greek organization to be part of a lifelong sisterhood or brotherhood or to continue a family tradition, do your research before pledging. Choose a Greek organization that sponsors alcohol-free events, focuses on philanthropy, gets involved in other organizations on campus, and doesn’t use dangerous hazing practices, such as forcing you to drink alcohol. If family tradition leaves you with only one Greek organization choice, don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with or that can endanger your life. Remember that being a part of a lifelong brotherhood or sisterhood should enhance your life, not harm it.
Whether or not you’re part of the Greek community or attending a Greek or non-Greek party, stay safe by following these tips:
- Don’t go to a party alone.
- Avoid drinking, if underage. If you’re over 21 and choose to drink, be cautious, know your limits, and don’t drink anything that you didn’t pour or open yourself.
- Never drink and drive. Plan a safe way home before you head out. Designate a sober driver, use a campus or community sober ride service, or bring money for the bus or a cab.