The Canon

What should the role of Greek organizations be within the Columbia community? What do we expect of this burgeoning population? At a school that is decidedly non-traditional in its social scene, how do these tradition-based organizations fit in?

  • Illustration by Do Yeon Grace Lee
  • From the editors:

    For all of its traditional bent—particularly toward Grecian classics—Columbia remains ambivalent on the matter of Greek-letter organizations.

    Greek organizations have been at the center of hazing scandals and drug busts. But their members have also been leaders in philanthropy and throughout campus. Sororities have purposely misinformed potential new members about dues during recruitment. But they also provide what is touted as an affirming and empowering community. Still, many students either don’t know or don’t care about Greek life beyond a cursory level.

    But Greek organizations have grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years. Can even the most ardently disinterested students afford to ignore the role these organizations have played—and will play—in the campus community? In spring of 2011, there were 952 students from all four undergraduate colleges involved in Greek life. By 2013, the number had increased to 1,529. Still, this tremendous growth leaves sororities, fraternities, and multicultural fraternities and sororities composing just over 14 percent of the undergraduate population. 

    What do we expect of this burgeoning population? At a school that is decidedly non-traditional in its social scene, how do these tradition-based organizations fit in?

    In the first Canon of this semester, we approach the role of Greek organizations with three distinct perspectives: a non-affiliate, a former fraternity president, and a sorority member. 

    We invite you to consider their thoughts on the role of Greek organizations.

    Emma Finder and Dan Garisto
    Editorial Page Editors


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    well posted on

    there's no one here who's writing why greek organizations SHOULDN'T exist or aren't necessary in the columbian experience. as someone who disassociated from a fraternity, i can say that there's a lot of sexism, racism, and classism that goes on within both fraternities and sororities and that frankly the other organizations i've been a part of have helped shape my sense of community. paying for friends so i can drink was a ridiculous concept to me and i left after three semesters.

    Anonymous posted on

    Very wise words. Let's do what Cornell does. Let's be on a war path to get rid of frats at Columbia. We are here to teach college students, not to train criminals.

    Anonymous posted on

    hear hear. these are all well written pieces but it's odd that all of them have an overwhelming positive bent when there are plenty of people and groups on campus who could argue against.

    Anonymous posted on

    It would be nice to have a piece written by someone who left Greek life and for what reasons

    Or, if we want to avoid the negatives that seem to plague Greek life, then a piece about why a person may have NOT chosen Greek life and what benefits they are getting from the other communities they are a part of.

    Personally I opted not to choose Greek Life although all of my friends believed I would be a good fit. Instead I joined other communities on campus and have not looked back since. I think a lot of people are in that boat, and it would be nice to hear about what went behind their choices. This would especially help inform those who are considering rushing but are unsure.

    Anon posted on

    Great, this so this is gonna be like the FOX News of Columbia. One-sided fact-twisting badly-written propaganda, that sounds like its being paid for by some pissy frat/sor alums. Just what we need.

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    Anonymous posted on

    There is no one writing about the pre-professional fraternities on campus (i.e. Alpha Kappa Psi or Delta Kappa Alpha), or the absence of other types of co-ed fraternities like service fraternities. There are other types of fraternities besides social frats but the current InterGreek Council doesn't know how to recognize them and integrate them with the rest of Greek Life.

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