Greek Life Spotlight: Once Again Harvard v. Yale

Harvard University Decision to Ban Greek Life Participation

In the spring of 2003, the country waited with baited breath, wondering which school she would choose: Harvard or Yale. Though it was her lifelong dream and ambition to join the Crimson Crusade, Rory Gilmore became a Bulldog—in all its powdered blue glory. Rory Gilmore’s college attendance was not the first time the Ivy League rivals were at odds, and now once, again, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the proverbial ivy-strewn fence.

Last week, Harvard University’s president, Drew Faust, announced a new school-wide initiative to prohibit students who participate in unrecognized, single-sex organizations from holding leadership positions within the university, be eligible for certain grants and scholarships, and otherwise place sanctions on the students themselves. While intended for the infamous Final Clubs (as featured in the “Social Network” and other films), the new university policy would extend to Greek Life as well—meaning nationally recognized sororities, and subsequently their members, would be subject to the ban.

There are arguments that support President Faust’s decision to heavily deter participation into Greek Life and other similarly organized institutions. Statistics on sexual assault in Greek communities versus non-Greek demographics are alarmingly higher. The likelihood of drug and alcohol use is purportedly higher in Greek participation. Greek participation creates a hierarchy of power; an “us vs. them” mentality…the list goes on and on.

However, for so much bad publicity, the country seems disinterested in the stories and actions that shed a positive light on the Greek community. Maybe it won’t sell papers or be a trending topic on Google News, however, the millions of dollars organized Greek chapters raise for philanthropies or the rich histories of friendship and sisterhood/brotherhood are largely ignored. Owner of A-List Greek, Hope Gray, with over ten years of volunteer experience in the Greek community, and several years working with the executive office of her respective sorority, commented, “Greek Life has so much to offer to collegiate men and women. They build trust with brothers and sisters, values within themselves, and gain an international network of beneficial relationships. You grow and learn so much if you give yourself the chance.” Read about how members of the Greek community would like themselves to be perceived here.

Employees, students, and writers from various universities around the country, including the University of California, San Diego, and Northwestern University, have voiced their support for Harvard’s decision. However, a vocal faction of support also rose from other schools like the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University.

Yale, on the opposite end of the spectrum, has chosen to address Greek Life in an entirely different way. The student run Yale College Task Force for Greek Life recommended the university strengthen its ties with sororities and fraternities. Members of the university administration have expressed interest and are eager to begin building formalized relationships with Greek groups, adding that there will be a benefit to formal university recognition for both parties. So while Harvard chooses to eradicate Finals Clubs, where exclusion and secrecy are the core building blocks to those institutions, and acknowledge that Greek Life is necessary collateral damage, Yale hopes to foster an environment of positive collaboration.

So, as a company of sorority women who feel strongly about the safe space it creates for female students and its overall positive impact on its participants, we’re pulling a Rory Gilmore—we’re going with Yale.

What have been some of the best sorority memories you made with sisters? Let us know!

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