Inside Greek U
Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and PrestigeBook - 2007
One in ten American college students joins a fraternity or sorority, and Greek social organizations produce a disproportionately large percentage of power brokers in business and politics. Statistics show that while these future leaders are on campus, they are much more likely than non-Greek students to engage in binge drinking and to be either the perpetrators or victims of sexual assault. In Inside Greek U., Alan D. DeSantis takes an in-depth look at the lessons that Greek organizations teach their members about gender, drawing on evidence gathered in hundreds of focus-group sessions and personal interviews and from his years of experience as a Greek faculty advisor. Inside Greek U reveals a Greek culture that imbues its members with the sense that "real men" must be unemotional, promiscuous, violent, and aggressively masculine, while "nice girls" should be nurturing, passive, domestic, and purely feminine. These rigid formulations contribute to maladaptive behaviors and beliefs, such as eating disorders, body image distortions, homophobia, and date rape and other sexual misconduct. Inside Greek U. aims to reform the Greek system rather than tear it down or sanction contempt for its members. DeSantis identifies narrow definitions of gender that impede Greek students' intellectual and emotional development and seeks to broaden these definitions, thereby expanding the range of acceptable choices available to fraternity and sorority members before and after graduation.
Popular culture portrays college Greek organizations as a training ground for malevolent young aristocrats. Films such as Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Old School, and Legally Blonde reinforce this stereotype, but they fail to depict the enduring influence of these organizations on their members. Inside Greek U. provides an in-depth investigation of how fraternities and sororities bolster traditional, and potentially damaging, definitions of gender and sexuality. Using evidence gathered in hundreds of focus group sessions and personal interviews, as well as his years of experience as a faculty advisor to Greek organizations, Alan D. DeSantis offers unprecedented access to the world of fraternities and sororities. DeSantis, himself once a member of a fraternity, shows the profoundly limited gender roles available to Greeks: "real men" are taught to be unemotional, sexually promiscuous, and violent; "nice girls," to be nurturing, domestic, and pure. These rigid formulations often lead to destructive attitudes and behaviors, such as eating disorders, date rape, sexual misconduct, and homophobia. Inside Greek U. shows that the Greek experience does not end on graduation day, but that these narrow definitions of gender and sexuality impede students' intellectual and emotional development and limit their range of choices long after graduation. Ten percent of all college students join a Greek organization, and many of the nation's business and political leaders are former members. DeSantis acknowledges that thousands of students join Greek organizations each year in search of meaning, acceptance, friendship, and engagement, and he illuminates the pressures and challenges that contemporary college students face. Inside Greek U. demonstrates how deeply Greek organizations influence their members and suggests how, with reform the worst excesses of the system, fraternities and sororities could serve as a positive influence on individuals and campus life.