While I was an undergrad at Stanford (Class of 2018), I was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Currently, Stanford administrators are considering disbanding Greek life at the University. Kappa Sigma alumni are being called to advocate for benefits of having Greek life on campus. Although I have no regrets about my college experience and met some of my closest friends through Kappa Sigma, I personally think ending Greek life would actually have a positive impact on Stanford’s culture. The fundamental reason for this is regarding the potentially dangerous levels of substance abuse that takes place in these communities.
Ever since graduating from college in 2018, I have been wrestling with addiction to both drugs and alcohol. I spent much of 2019 in an inpatient program and continue to attend AA meetings today. Despite these efforts, I am still wrestling with addiction on a daily basis. Although it would likely be ill-informed to blame my current struggles on my experience of being in a fraternity, it certainly isn’t a far-fetched hypothesis. Through pledging and living in the house, my consumption of drugs and alcohol skyrocketed. I was regularly talked out of studying by my peers in order to drink or get high. Although drinking and doing drugs regularly (most nights of the week) was ultimately my decision, fraternity culture uniquely encourages this type of lifestyle (or at least it did in the fraternity I was involved in).
Stanford recently published some studies about substance abuse on campus and the impact that being in Greek organizations had on that. I’ve included some interesting screenshots here:
Across the board, there is a positive correlation between consumption of mind-altering substances and being in a Greek organization. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever stepped foot in a fraternity house. Although partying with drugs and alcohol is considered part of the typical American college experience, it has negative repercussions that I am unfortunately dealing with today. Again, I shouldn’t blame my current problems on the fact that I was in a fraternity; however, being in one provided an environment where my addiction could be comfortably enabled. If Stanford seeks to minimize the potential dangers of substance abuse (namely addiction and hospitalization), ending the presence of Greek life on campus isn’t such a bad idea.
Are there positive aspects to Greek life? Certainly. The community that forms in these organizations is undeniable. I met many friends that I care about deeply to this day and that care about me deeply as well. However, I can’t help but wonder what my college community would have looked like had it not formed on the basis of being party-loving males who enjoy consuming drugs and alcohol. What if my community had formed on the basis of my unique academic interests? Or perhaps a shared professional interest? Maybe a shared extracurricular passion? There’s no way of knowing for sure; however, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think my net consumption of drugs and alcohol would have decreased.