In light of the negative stigma that encompasses fraternities due to high numbers of fraternity brothers accused of sexual assault, some students may be looking for more options. Because Greek life is a much beloved part of college, it would do colleges, including UCA, good to offer coed Greek organizations.
According to UCA’s Greek life website, UCA offers students 14 fraternities and 11 sororities. However, there are no coed Greek organizations offered at UCA.
Coed Greek organizations would promote safety and help fight the stigma against Greek life, specifically against fraternities. Fraternities are often stigmatized as being unsafe, with their extensive partying and with the link between fraternity culture and sexual assault. Fraternity men are three times more likely than other college men to commit sexual assault, according to 2007 study by John D. Foubert, a professor of higher education and student affairs at Oklahoma University who studies sexual assault.
If it were coed, a Greek organization would make a higher priority of keeping the safety of the participating women in mind when planning parties. By being more aware of these problems and having women there to help guide the discussion, these organizations are far more likely to produce a much safer environment that would better promote gender equality.
Also, coed Greek organizations are much less selective than their traditional counterparts. According to the Seattle Pi website, “Coed fraternities do not choose their members based on popularity or through traditional fraternity rushing and are much more inclusive than social fraternities.”
Additionally, the strict, traditional notions of gender rife within fraternities and sororities leave little space for those who identify outside of that binary. Nonbinary people might be conflicted as to which organization to join, assuming they’re even allowed to join. Coed Greek organizations would offer that student a place to feel comfortable expressing their gender identity while also offering them all of the benefits of Greek life. By not offering coed Greek organizations, a university is essentially pushing these members of society away.
And by only offering strictly gendered Greek organizations with specific ideas regarding masculinity and femininity, people who aren’t necessarily gender nonbinary, but who still don’t fully comply with those strict ideas, would also be pushed away from that aspect of college life.
Some might worry that the advent of coed Greek organizations would deter students from preexisting fraternities and sororities. For those students who are set on joining a specific fraternity or sorority, the offer of supplemental coed Greek organizations would not deter them from joining their preferred fraternity or sorority. It would just offer a wider variety of options for those who are looking to join a version of Greek life that is gender-inclusive and potentially safer from sexual assault.
The introduction of coed Greek organizations to campus might also urge members of already established fraternities and sororities to consider enhancing inclusivity in their own organizations. This would produce an environment that pays more attention to safety, inclusivity and gender identity.