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Greek life and UIndy don’t mix

Posted on 02.06.2013

A myth about college generally paints it as a land of free-flowing Keystone Light with readily available women and the lonely bros who love them. This is especially true, according to the myth, of the Zeuses and Heras with three letters above their front doors.

Recently, I heard that suggestions have been made at President Manuel’s Vision 2030 meetings and the Pizza with the Prez nights that the University of Indianapolis should begin allowing fraternities and sororities on campus.

Greek life can have some benefits. A few include networking among alumni and current Greeks and the emphasis on academic excellence through peer tutoring and available “study buddies” in their houses. Volunteerism is another virtue often pledged and practiced in fraternities and sororities. The lifelong friendships are probably the strongest benefits of Greek life.

However, I’ll quote what my mother asked the tour guide when I was visiting campus for the first time: “All right, don’t lie to me—where’s the party house?”

College life has an underside, usually involving free booze and the “adventures” I previously mentioned. This is true whether a parent sends a child to a large, well-known party school or a small, austere Baptist university that doesn’t permit dancing or discussion of evolution. UIndy, like it or not, has that side as well, in spite of the campus being dry and affiliated with the Methodist Church.

I have learned from my mom, parents of friends and just my own experience that parents, especially of females, like to know their children are safe. The campus has a female-to-male ratio of 3:1. Fifty percent of all undergraduates live on campus, according to the UIndy website.

Statistically, when alcohol is present, the chances for sexual assault increase. A 2007 survey done by the Health Center at Columbia University estimated that alcohol is involved in about 50-72 percent of all sexual assaults on college campuses. The study also found that Greek life is so heavily alcohol-based that most of the students who intend to join are already heavier drinkers than their non-Greek peers, and when surveyed, many are willing to be open about their drinking habits, which could lead to other illegalities such as sexual assault.

Finally, the question arises whether Greek life fits UIndy. My answer is no. Many of the benefits I have listed, such as networking and volunteerism, also can be gained from registered student organizations that won’t be immortalized as Greek life has been in movies like “Animal House.” There’s also cost concerns in first finding the space to build the houses, then paying for it, and then waiting for the actual construction to be finished. If most of us were impatient with Hanna Avenue’s renovations, we probably won’t fare well waiting for Ortega Toe Pikachu (or whatever the fraternity calls itself) to open.

UIndy is in essence a business. The administrators know this and have to keep in mind their clients (prospective students) and the prospective students’ parents. Because of the drinking and sexual assault statistics, many parents would be leery. If the parents have  daughters, any fear of Greek life and its ugly side would show in our female-male ratio dropping rapidly. The Office of Admissions, Residence Life and President Manuel know this and would probably prefer not to lose their “customers.”


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