The Daily Illini

Treat fraternities and sororities equally

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

The University boasts one of the largest Greek communities in the nation. With 37 sororities and 60 fraternities on campus, about 23 percent of the undergraduate student body is Greek affiliated.

Oklahoma University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon members’ racist chant, the University of Florida’s Zeta Beta Tau members’ alleged spitting on veterans and many other recent controversies in Greek communities have made many question if the tradition of Greek communities should be halted altogether. Instead of eliminating Greek life, we believe that eliminating the vast, gendered differences between fraternities and sororities could be a way of solving many of these problems.

One of the major differences between fraternities and sororities is the fact that sororities cannot possess alcohol in the chapter house. Some even ban males from all areas of the chapter house except the first floor common area. These regulations are instilled nationally, as well as with some houses on this campus.

This is believed to solve problems, but instead, we believe these gendered regulations could cause inadvertent harm. While we understand these regulations are put in place by a chapter’s national headquarters, having one definitive, equal rule for male and female Greek organizations could be far more effective.

For example, administrators at Dartmouth College have established a new protocol called “Moving Dartmouth Forward,” which prohibits all students at Dartmouth from possessing hard alcohol, including fraternity and sorority houses.

In contrast, an article from The New York Times published in January showcased Greek members who believe sororities should be allowed to host parties where alcohol is available. They believe this could make women feel more comfortable simply by being on their “own turf,” and potentially lower the risk of sexual assault, especially since female members would know the exits and layouts of their house, which is not the case for many partygoers at fraternities.

While we aren’t advocating for either of these protocols, necessarily, they are two examples of students and universities tinkering with different ways to ensure safety and heightened gender equality in Greek systems. Each Greek system operates differently, has different problems and therefore has different solutions. None is inherently correct, but new reforms are needed to lower future problems.

Greek life is a long standing tradition at the University and deserves to be maintained and improved. The reputation of our Greek community and Greek communities nationally can only be bettered by reforms that will allow houses to operate safely and equally, no matter the gender of their members.

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