This spring, social fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi will begin the process of forming an official chapter at UTSA. Last spring a similar fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, began establishing an official UTSA chapter and was officially recognized this past Saturday.
Fraternities and sororities offer some obvious benefits. Students join and, through paying anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars annually, gain access to friends, parties and camaraderie. For young freshmen that have just moved away from home, this large support system can be an attractive option. Social fraternities and sororities provide students with a sense of identity and belonging — but at a cost that may not be worth what students could find in other organizations.
College campuses are no strangers to what can best be described as disorderly conduct and fraternities are often a common denominator among the worst incidents reported.
In 2012, UTSA social fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon was suspended from campus after being charged with failure to report hazing, consumption of questionable nonalcoholic liquids, partial nudity and burning of the skin. Sigma Phi Epsilon is not the only Greek organization to have been suspended.
In 2010, Phi Mu was suspended from campus after reportedly blindfolding recruits in a darkened barn, forcing them to recite the sorority’s creed and telling them to imitate lions and monkeys.
Additionally, Gamma Delta in 2009 and Delta Sigma Phi in 2007 were found to be in violation of hazing policies.
Hazing, however, is only a small fraction of the most appalling incidents committed by fraternities. As a result of millions of dollars in lawsuits stemming from crimes committed by Greeks or in Greek housing, many fraternities are required by universities to preemptively pay insurance for their organization as a whole.
In 1992, the Fraternity Risk Management Trust (FRMT) was created to insure fraternities. Today, 32 fraternities actively belong to this trust, including UTSA’s most recent chapter, Alpha Sigma Phi. Under the FRMT, the Fraternal Information and Programming Group (FIPG) is responsible for training its recruits on appropriate fraternity behavior. The FIPG allows, in the event of crime, for the fraternity to shift blame from the organization itself to the individual member who underwent FIPG classes. Other fraternity insurers include insurance broker James R. Favor Company and Willis.
A 2010 analysis by Willis broke down the most common liability claims of the fraternities they represent: 7 percent from hazing, 7 percent from auto accidents, 9 percent as a result of falling from heights, 10 percent from slipping and falling, 15 percent from sexual assault and 23 percent from assault and battery.
Sexual assault is one of the most egregious problems plaguing college campuses. A study performed by Cornell University Professor Andrea Parrot found that, of all gang rapes committed by college students, fraternities committed 55 percent.
While a few bad members don’t represent Greek life as a whole, fraternities and sororities are a common denominator for these questionable occurrences and therefore may not be the best option for students looking to have a successful college career.
It is true that 18 U.S. Presidents were members of a fraternity, but these presidents were also students at Ivy League institutions. Undoubtedly a first-class education was the catalyst to their success.
UTSA has historically been a commuter campus and an affordable option to residents of the surrounding area. Only recently has the university tightened admission standards and transitioned to a more traditional college atmosphere; however, many students continue to choose UTSA because it is more affordable than its Austin affiliate.
Non-Greek registered student organizations often offer students a more affordable option than their Greek counterparts. By not joining a social fraternity or sorority, students can join clubs that are more specialized towards their field of interest, a potential benefit to a successful post-grad career.
Multidisciplinary sciences major Merced Carbajal was a former member of Alpha Tau Omega, but quit after the cost became too much of a burden. Carbajal later became the president of UTSA’s Green Society and a member of the Student Government Association (SGA). He felt that Alpha Tau Omega was not more beneficial than the other organizations he became involved with.
Greek organizations often depict themselves as an investment. Acknowledging their steep costs, many fraternities and sororities promise their members post-graduation connections in the job market of their choosing. A 2012 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, however, found that finding the right college internship was the biggest factor contributing to post-graduation success. According to the report, 60 percent of students who participated in an internship received at least one job offer after graduating.
Any campus organization can provide students with friends and a sense of belonging. As UTSA grows in size and student population, its Greek community will undoubtedly grow with it. Students have many promising options for success — some come with arbitrary Greek letters and some don’t.