With the death of 20-year-old Matthew Ellis last week, Texas State University became the most recent setting for Greek-related tragedy. Now, the torches are lit and pitchforks are raised for a march to fraternity rows across the country. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, among others, has called for fraternities to be banned by universities wherever possible in response to such alcohol-related fatalities (and other sins).
I’m sympathetic with Bruni’s stance, but I fear that once our righteous procession reaches the shadow of the frat-house, we’ll be countered with a simple: “Who do you know here?”
The answer to that fundamental fraternity question gets at Greek life’s one proven benefit.
Forget the hazing for a moment, forget the de facto racial and the de jure gender segregation, set aside the relatively astronomical sexual assault rates surrounding Greek life — and focus on this: to know a fraternity or sorority member is to know someone who will be, on average, happier than others you will meet.
According to survey data collected by Gallup in 2014, “fraternity and sorority members are more likely than all other college graduates to be thriving in each of the five elements of well-being (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical).”