Greeks can lead UI to better reputation


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The University of Iowa is a great school for many reasons, but it has a special notoriety for the wide availability of alcohol and, more recently, the rise in the number of house parties as well as an affiliation with Anheuser-Busch. While the party-school rankings continue to rise — even if the alcohol-related crime statistics do not — more people look to the UI for a good time, and more students are showing interests in Iowa’s greek community.

This year, greek recruitment for sororities has once again reached record numbers — 131 more young women than last year registered for sorority recruitment. But the simultaneous increase in party school rankings and increased interest in sorority life does not mean that the two things are related. Yet focusing on the greek community may be the best  way to improve the university’s reputation.

The five pillars of greek life promoted by the University of Iowa are community service, scholarship, leadership, opportunities, and friendship.  As the university has received far greater attention for the campus social scene, we encourage the interest in sorority life be focused on these pillars to help bring the university’s reputation out of its prolonged alcohol-related infamy. Recent statistics have illustrated that though the rates of all UI student consumption of alcohol have decreased slightly since 2009, the UI’s rates of alcohol misuse are consistently higher than national averages.

“UI students are worse in regard to almost all alcohol measures including 30-day use (79.9 percent versus 65.9 percent), high-risk drinking (64.1 percent versus 34.1 percent), and percent of students going over the legal intoxication limit last time they drank (58.0 percent versus 33.9 percent),” as reported by a recent National College Health Assessment of the UI. The report also specified that men are overall more likely to use alcohol, but that those involved in fraternities and sororities also are at a higher risk of alcohol consumption. These same findings have been fairly consistent for many years.

Many young women may also be interested in the leadership, philanthropic, and scholastic opportunities offered through sorority involvement. According to one study, some fraternity and sorority members do show signs of greater leadership skills non-greek students, but the increases are modest at best. Furthermore, the overall average GPA for sororities is higher than the overall GPA for all women at the UI, but only by less than 0.01 of a point. These numbers are less than astounding but still may encourage some students to join sororities.

Overall, however, sororities and fraternities are especially appealing as social entities, and at the UI, some students have a difficult time separating their social life from alcohol. It’s true that many of the alcohol-related crimes have decreased in number on and near campus, but compared with national statistics, it is no surprise that the UI is the No. 2 party school. Young women interested in greek life undoubtedly know the reputation of the university and are likely familiar with the association between sororities and alcohol consumption.

But as students who participate in the greek culture on campus are exposed to social life, they are also exposed to tenets that are admirable, such as community and scholastic achievement. As formal recruitment continues, we strongly encourage members of the greek community to spread these admirable values above the values of alcohol that are rampant throughout the entire UI student population. The fracture in the university’s culture must be mended by students, not by administration officials who line their desks with Busch handouts. There is no better community than the greek community to lead the university’s reputation out of the keg.

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