Editorial: Bringing back the Greeks
The University currently does not recognize or regulate campus Greek organizations — fraternities and sororities are only required to comply with their national chapter guidelines. Since 2005, the University has mailed a letter to incoming freshmen discouraging them from participating in Greek life at Princeton. The rationale for this policy is laudable: The University seeks to marginalize Greek organizations because they are socially exclusive organizations that may aggravate stratification and divisiveness beginning freshman fall. This policy, however, actually aggravates the social exclusivity and stratification present in Princeton’s Greek system and should be reconsidered.
Fraternities and sororities are currently restricted from advertising openly on campus about rush timelines and policies, and rush is held very early in the fall semester. This prevents many freshmen from making an informed decision about whether or not to participate in the Greek experience. Without equal access to information, students with pre-existing social ties to Princeton are more likely to join a Greek organization, thus perpetuating the social exclusivity and stratification the University decries.
Increased transparency and information exchange between Greek organizations, the University and incoming freshmen would ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to rush, thus creating a necessarily less exclusive and more democratic rush process. Another potential beneficial change would be to standardize the pledge period among all fraternities and sororities, an issue in which the University currently has no voice. Official oversight would also allow the University to require Greek organizations to host alcohol- or sexual-abuse workshops — like the one sponsored by Sigma Chi — for members, as well as help them comply with chapter service requirements.
Opponents of this policy may be concerned that this would only increase the presence of Greek organizations on campus, which is not inherently positive. Our unique eating club system, however, ensures that fraternities and sororities at Princeton will never exercise the same social domination as at other universities. Nonetheless, Greek organizations already do play an important role as social associations and feeders for eating clubs. Allowing them to do so in a transparent and regulated manner is preferable to the current secretive and illicit state of affairs.
By recognizing the Greek organizations and subjecting them to University regulations, the University can ensure transparency and accountability in Princeton’s Greek life. Given that these organizations already play a significant role on campus, it is important that they are equally accessible to all students, are held responsible for their actions and contribute positively to campus life.