Reversing the Greek image

By Tony Espinal

I love the Greek system.
It has always been a great way to meet new people, build networks, and, of course, obtain a certain degree of social status that comes with wearing those coveted letters.
It is a place where lifelong friendships are developed and  a family is created. In fact, my brothers are so much a part of my family that my wife couldn’t imagine our wedding day without them there.
But there is another side to Greek life that I’m sure we are all familiar with: the parties and the drinking.
It has become an enormous problem and has caused Greeks to lose sight of what it means to be in a fraternity or sorority. We are contributing to the negative stigma associated with the system.
I’ll be the first to admit it. I did a lot of partying when I was an undergraduate.
It was often a joke in my house that we were very strict about our drinking and only partied on days that ended in ‘y.’
I remember at one chapter meeting, I was telling my brothers why we should not offer a bid to a potential brother.
This individual showed up to my house, drank until he blacked out, then tried to steal from me before running out to my porch and projectile vomiting all over my furniture.
Needless to say, I did not want this particular person associated with our house. To my disappointment, when I expressed my opinion, the leader of our rush council—the group that decides whom to offer a bid—responded with: “What are you talking about? He sounds perfect for this house.“
Six months later, we initiated him.
Fraternities and sororities offer so much more than parties and social status but are losing sight of the more important things.
In October, Bloomberg reported that Princeton students who belong to fraternities were more likely to be hospitalized because of drinking and that white male fraternity members drink more heavily than any other group on campus.
Back in 2002, USA today reported on the effects of binge drinking on campuses and referred to a 1993 Harvard study that showed that 86 percent of fraternity members and 80 percent of sorority members are likely to engage in binge drinking.
These disturbing facts have caused enormous backlash against the Greek system, including expulsion from campus, lawsuits, bans, and recruitment restrictions.
It is time that we, as members of the coveted Greek community, put the focus back on why it is such a great system.
In May of 2012, USA Today College, reported that 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives were Greek.
The report also stated that students could gain networking and social skills that will take them far in their professional careers.
But it’s so much more than that.
We should strive to show the bonds of brother had and sisterhood that are developed and the lifelong friendships we have developed as a result.
We should also show our commitment to academic excellence and social involvement.
Furthermore, we should fight to reverse the negative image that has been cultivated around the excessive partying and drinking that has been a strong part of Greek life for so many years.