Much like sex, I don’t understand why anyone would pay for friends. That’s why the inclusion of fraternities and sororities in clubs week outside the University Community Centre is so perplexing. But while I am bewildered by the mere idea of the Greek scene, there are also many practical reasons why Alpha Omega whatever shouldn’t be recruiting outside the UCC.
Firstly, it costs a lot of money to even get in the door at frats and sororities. To go through the recruitment process, it can cost up to $25 for some. This entitles you to have people aggressively “get to know you,” see the house and have people cheer at you.
If they deem you fit to join, it costs approximately $1,000 to maintain your membership. While bursaries exist for those who simply can’t afford the steep membership price, I would wonder if the effort to join could be spent in better ways. Like, I don’t know, working to pay for school or applying for scholarships to fund your education.
Contrast that with the many clubs in the Mustang Lounge and in the UCC atrium. Most of them cost $5 to $20 for the year; the outliers are the UWO Choir at $35 and the Dance Force at $100 — peanuts compared to membership in one of those Greek clubs.
Most glaringly problematic about fraternities and sororities is the hazing culture that exists. While there aren’t official reports of this happening at Western, it definitely happens at chapters across North America.
Take Phi Gamma Delta (or Fiji), which has a chapter at Western. At West Virginia University, they were banned for alcohol hazing in 2012. And at University of Kansas, freshman Matt Fritzie was hospitalized after Fiji hazing in 2010, resulting in a two-year probation for the fraternity.
These are extreme cases and sure, they didn’t happen at Western, but they speak to a culture in the Greek scene — a culture that has no direct university oversight.
The two examples of behaviour that I mentioned resulted in disciplinary action from the universities — something that would not happen in Canada. Western has virtually no oversight over what goes on in the various chapter houses in London. While clubs must abide by rules set out by the University Students’ Council (and, by extension, the university), Greek life is not governed by university administration.
Frats and sororities in the United States are usually overseen by the dean’s office. You can even see any disciplinary action that’s been taken against them; for example, take a look at the University of Arizona.
A quick perusal through a frat brother or sorority sister’s Facebook photos will show copious amounts of red cups full of alcohol and partying reminiscent of scenes from Animal House. While there’s nothing wrong with this behaviour, what is worrying is that this is going on with no oversight from Western. Unlike USC-sanctioned clubs, the Greek scene gets their oversight from a private organization.
Yet, there they are outside the UCC looking for attractive first-year specimens. Unless they abide by USC oversight for clubs or unless Western decides to take on some governing role, they shouldn't be a part of clubs week.
Editor's note: The original article stated that recruitment fees for fraternities and sororities was $20. In fact, sororities charge a $25 recruitment fee while fraternities do not charge a recruitment fee at all.