The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Greek Life is beyond fixing and should be abolished

Greek Life has a culture that perpetuates sexual violence, hazing, and discrimination. The benefits of it do not outweigh its downsides.
Grace Smith
Protesters march away from the Pentacrest toward downtown Iowa City during the third night of protests following sexual assault allegations against the University of Iowa’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

In recent years, several colleges and universities have decided to suspend or limit Greek Life on their campuses because of the controversy surrounding fraternity and sorority culture. This includes issues such as hazing, sexual assault, and racism.

While some argue that Greek Life provides a sense of community and tradition, in reality, Greek Life on university campuses has often been criticized for its exclusive nature and perpetuation of discrimination.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Greek Life on college campuses, the negative risks of harm outweigh any potential benefit provided by Greek Life and should therefore be abolished. Greek Life doesn’t need to exist for students to experience the benefits of social inclusion and camaraderie.

From their inception, fraternities and sororities were established to create social hierarchies based on wealth, race, and social status. Membership in these organizations was often restricted to individuals who fit certain criteria, such as coming from privileged backgrounds or belonging to a particular ethnic group.

This has resulted in a system that marginalizes and discriminates against those who do not meet these narrow standards. A 2014 study by Julie Park revealed that over 97 percent of fraternity and sorority members who are white reported that their organizations were majority white.

At its core, fraternities were formed as a way for the elite, white, male students to foster exclusionary spaces within universities. Fraternities and sororities were never designed to include people of color and other minority groups; they actively opposed their entrance into such spaces.

In addition to discrimination, the fraternity system has long been criticized for its role in fostering hazing. Hazing involves humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation rituals for college students seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority.

According to Franklin College journalism professor Hank Nuwer, over 200 university hazing deaths have occurred since 1838, with 40 deaths between 2007 and 2017 alone.

High-risk drinking and drug use are also prevalent within these social organizations, with research showing that fraternity members are two to three times more likely to engage in these risky behaviors compared to their non-fraternity peers.

Greek culture is infamous for its prevalence of sexual assault. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2021 that research shows fraternity boys are three times more likely to rape women than their non-affiliated colleagues. Fraternal ties are present in most reported college gang rapes, according to The LA Times.

The University of Iowa has experienced the consequences of this firsthand. In 2021, massive protests erupted after now-former members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, also known as FIJI, were accused of sexual assault.

Sorority houses are not much safer. According to The Guardian, a woman’s probability of being raped is increased by 74 percent just by living in a sorority house.

Greek Life is beyond simple reform. The toxic practices are so ingrained within our school culture and student organizations that making small changes to a system built on outdated values is a band-aid solution to a much larger problem.

According to Andrew Lohse, a former member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Dartmouth College, we must ask why society excuses some systems of organized crime but allows others.

“University presidents owe it to the next generation of students to abolish fraternities and replace them with a 21st-century system that isn’t hostile to minorities, women, and its own members,” Lohse told MSNBC in 2015.

Greek Life was never meant to be a safe space for group gatherings. It is only a tool of discrimination, exclusion, and toxic masculinity.

By abolishing Greek Life completely, universities can take a stand against these harmful practices and create a more inclusive and equitable campus environment.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributor
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.