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Perception of Greek Life: An Epidemic?

Greek Life Needs to Take Racism as Seriously as Hazing”, Syracuse University Suspends Fraternity Activities After Racist Incident, Ex-L.S.U. Student Convicted in Fraternity Hazing Death of Freshman, Swarthmore Fraternities Disband After Uproar Over ‘Rape Attic’ Documents.

These are just a few headlines that have shown up in the news in the last five years in regards to greek life. According to a vast majority of public opinion articles, the general public is not Greek Life’s greatest fan.

As of 2019, there are approximately 9 million student and alumni members of fraternities and sororities (known as Greek Life) in North America, or about 3 percent of the total population. Roughly 750,000 of the current fraternity and sorority members are students who belong to an undergraduate chapter.[1]

According to John E. Conklin writes in his 2008 book Campus Life in the Movies: A Critical Survey from the Silent Era to the Present, “College movies have been consistently unflattering in their depiction of fraternities and sororities, especially over the past three decades. Few movies portray fraternities and sororities as organizations that serious, tolerant, and well-behaved students would want to join,” said Conklin.[2]

An underwhelming percentage of 18 percent of prospective studentsand their parents nationwide would find greek life appealing on their future campus.[3] Greek life makes up a national perception of at least 3 percent of the population. And there is a negative connotation? Do greek organizations deserve this commentary?

So what is the state of Greek affairs at the University of Mississippi?

According to the Dean of Students, Brent Marsh, A large percentage of students participate in fraternity and sorority life at the University of Mississippi each year. Between 32-40 percent of the student population participated in the 2018-2019 school year. “We are proud of the leadership and involvement opportunities afforded by the

chapters in all three councils: College Panhellenic Council (CPH), Interfraternity Council (IFC), and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).”

With these numbers, Marsh is honest about potential concerns he has with greek life access on campus.

“While not limited to fraternity and sorority communities, I do worry about issues that can surface such as alcohol and other drug abuse, hazing, and sexual assault, to name a few concerns. We need to continue to make strides as a campus community where folks look out for each other, speak up when something isn't right, and strive to be an inclusive, safe, and healthy campus,” Marsh said.

Among these concerns, a recent survey on NASPA’s website showed that many Universities struggle with a divide among greek and non-greek students. College Panhellenic Council President, Shelby D’amico spoke about this issue.

“As a member of the great community and an advocate for it I as well as others in my position have been working to combat this issue and to bridge the ‘divide’ between Greek and non-Greek students here at the University. [I work on] hearing... concerns, listening to them, and brainstorming...solutions in order to make our campus more cohesive. [The Panhellenic Board is made up of] students who are willing and able to make this university a better place one day at a time,” D’amico said.

While Ole Miss greek life is not immune to any issues present in national greek life, local greek life participant Miller Carlton believes that “we are under the best leadership possible to fight for justice and hold us to a higher standard.”