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10 Colleges That Get Greek Life Right

Posted on Tuesday September 4, 2012 by Staff Writers

Greek life often gets a bad rap, especially as scandals involving hazing, binge-drinking, drug sales, and other undesirable activities have rocked college campuses nationwide throughout the past decade. Yet not every school’s Greek system has succumbed to those pitfalls. At some colleges, Greek life is happy and healthy and represents a positive aspect of campus life, even for students who don’t take part. While partying may still be a big part of Greek life, at these schools, fraternities and sororities are tightly regulated, inclusive, and focus on academics and social work more than living it up. Here are just a few of the schools (in no particular order) we think are getting Greek life right, producing organizations that are positive both for students and for the campus as a whole.

  1. MIT

    As you might expect, Greek life at MIT doesn’t follow many of the TV stereotypes. In fact, it is not uncommon for students who report having little interest in joining a fraternity or sorority changing their minds upon seeing what Greek life is like at MIT. Instead of being focused on socializing (though there is plenty of that, too), Greek life at MIT is more about academics, building leadership skills, and creating lasting friendships. Alcohol is not allowed in any sorority houses and heavy drinking is reported at much lower levels at fraternities than the national average (28% versus 75%). Because MIT is such an academically focused school, many fraternities and sororities reflect that desire to succeed, and partying is limited to weekends so students can focus on homework during the week. Additionally, student members get help in their academic endeavors through review sessions, quiet study spaces, relationships with alumni, and upperclassmen who act as mentors.

  2. Illinois Institute of Technology

    IIT is another school where Greek life is different than that of many other schools and doesn’t follow the party-centric stereotype presented by TV and movies. Students at IIT do enjoy socializing, but groups are also highly focused on scholastic achievement, community service projects, and intramural sports. Additionally, Greek groups on campus provide opportunities for members and non-members alike to boost leaderships skills, helping students become leaders in science, technology, engineering, and architecture through special courses and networking events. Some students even report their Greek houses as being excellent places to do homework, study, and get help from their peers.

  3. University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana

    UIUC has the largest Greek system in the world by membership, and as a result, a significant portion of students on campus belong to some kind of fraternity or sorority. While the stereotypical Greek life does exist on campus, along with many of the problems associated with it (UIUC has been ranked among the top 20 party schools, so parties, drinking, and socializing aren’t hard to come by), UIUC’s incredibly large Greek system offers a much wider spectrum of organizations and opportunities for students than other schools. One great asset is that there are Greek organizations that focus on recruiting exclusively from certain colleges at the school, which can be an excellent way for students to meet their classmates, get help with homework, and even network with alumni. Even better is the large number of service and professional fraternities. These fraternities often don’t have houses on campus, are co-ed, and help students build professional skills, give back to the community, and even become better academically. While UIUC isn’t immune from Greek life problems, there are so many different types of Greek organizations that nearly every kind of student can find one that suits his or her needs.

  4. Union College

    Greek life at Union College blends fun and socialization with a focus on academics and philanthropic work. Greek organizations offer academic support to members through scholarships, incentives, awards, study skills workshops, tutoring, study sessions, and motivation to meet or exceed GPA minimums. Members of Union’s Greek community also participate in and provide philanthropic and social activities for the campus community, which are open to members and non-members alike. A unique feature of Union College is its seven Minerva Houses, which offer a similar feeling to Greek life but are perhaps a bit more academically focused in nature. In recent years, alcohol consumption at Union College Greek organizations has become a point of contention (it’s the nation’s #5 party school), and due to insurance liability could soon be absent from much of Greek life.

  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    There are plenty of opportunities for students at this science and tech-focused school to get involved in Greek life. There are 18 fraternities and sororities that put on events both for members and for the campus at large. Parties and social events are a part of Greek life at WPI, but Greek organizations are often just as focused on community service, building study skills, and helping to better the WPI campus and surrounding community. One of the key elements to maintaining positive Greek life at WPI is the strict rules and standards members must follow and are held to. Minimum GPAs are fairly high and students must conform to guidelines of behavior at parties and around campus. In addition to tight regulation by the Greek system itself is close observation by the school, which regulates all parties (parties have closed lists and are monitored by campus police to ensure things don’t get out of hand) held at fraternities and sororities. Female students may find Greek life to be especially advantageous, as the bulk of the student body at WPI is male.

  6. Gustavus Adolphus College

    Students at Gustavus can’t join a fraternity or a sorority until their sophomore year, giving them time to get to know the campus and their classmates outside of the Greek system. Additionally, Greek groups on campus have no designated houses, so members are integrated in housing throughout the campus, giving the school’s Greek system a very inclusive feel. Since students don’t live together in a house on campus, Greek events mainly revolve around volunteering and philanthropic work as well as partying and socializing with other students. In the past, Gustavus administrators have gotten strict with campus Greek groups and many who got out of hand with partying have been disbanded, with Greek groups being banned outright in 1988. They’ve made a comeback, but currently there are only two national chapters at Gustavus. The rest exist only at Gustavus, which makes them accessible and easy for the college to regulate.

  7. Coe College

    Students who are interested in joining a Greek system where academics are valued highly should consider Coe College. At this school, Greek organizations teach time management skills, organize study hours, and help members boost their GPAs. As a result, Greek members at the school have higher average GPAs than non-members. In addition to grades, members of Greek organizations also get help building leadership skills, networking, and even looking for jobs. Of course, socialization is an essential part of being Greek at Coe, too. Students have parties and bond with fellow Greek member at formals, dances, and mixers, and most Greek organizations sponsor major charity events each year.

  8. U of Wisconsin, Madison

    The University of Wisconsin, Madison has a reputation for being a bit of a party school (it was ranked the No. 1 party school by Princeton Review in 2010), so drinking, partying, and a lot of other negative Greek stereotypes aren’t exactly strangers to the school. Yet the school also has an incredibly strong academic and political atmosphere and as a result has spawned some pretty great and interesting Greek organizations. One of particular note is Alpha Chi Sigma, a national co-ed professional chemistry fraternity that was founded at the school. Numerous members have gone on to be Nobel laureates and esteemed scientists, including Linus Pauling and Willard Libby. There are a number of other professional fraternities on campus, as well as Greek literary societies and Greek service organizations that offer up a much wider range of opportunities outside of pure socialization for students who are interested in a bit of an alternative Greek experience.

  9. Wake Forest University

    At Wake Forest, 50% of the undergraduate student body is Greek, so it’s almost impossible to avoid attending Greek events or making friends who are in the Greek system. Also expanding the presence of Greek life on campus is the fact that there are no houses on campus (some groups do set up unofficial satellite houses off campus, however). Students in Greek organizations live together within the residence halls, where blocks of rooms and lounges are set aside for the groups. Students at Wake Forest are not allowed to join fraternities or sororities until the second semester of their freshman year, giving them ample time to learn about the campus and the different Greek groups.

  10. The College of Wooster

    Greek organizations at The College of Wooster aren’t nationwide; each exists solely at the school. That helps to foster a sense of allegiance not only to the group but to the campus in general. While many students belong to Greek organizations, Greek life on campus isn’t especially high profile. Often, that can be a good thing as students have a chance to form many relationships outside of their fraternities and sororities. While there are plenty of parties to be had at Wooster, Greek groups focus heavily on community service and developing leadership, and students will find ample opportunity to learn useful job, networking, and interpersonal skills.