Many Men and women join fraternities and sororities, social groups that are active on college campuses.
Fraternities and sororities, often called Greek-letter societies because most of them take their names from letters of the Greek alphabet, are known for sponsoring parties and dances that are the pillars of college social life for many students.
Critics say Greek organizations are exclusionary, sexist and even dangerous.
In recent years, fraternities and sororities have become the focus of criticism for "hazing" rituals that require new members, usually called pledges, to endure physical or mental abuse, harassment or humiliation to gain acceptance into the group.
Others say that Greek organizations are by their very nature exclusive and discriminatory. Members are chosen or dismissed for superficial reasons, they say, such as how they look, how much money they make or how popular they are with other students.
The first social fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, was founded in 1776 at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Va. Early fraternities were established to promote good character and academic achievement among students. Phi Beta Kappa became an honor society in 1883, and is still considered the most prestigious honor society for college students.
Many critics remain adamant that the Greek system is plagued with problems such as hazing and alcohol abuse because fraternities and sororities themselves promote such behavior. The culture of fraternities and sororities, they say, has led to abusive, offensive and discriminatory actions. As a result, they say, the Greek system should be dismantled.
Most fraternities and sororities have adopted programs designed to teach their members about such problems and protect them from dangers that have plagued the Greek system in the past.
Dziech, Billie Wright. "Forcing Greek Organizations to Go Coeducational Won't Lead to Greater Diversity." Chronicle of Higher Education (April 2, 1999): B4.
Economist (October 4, 1997). "Raise a Fond Last Glass to Dionysus": 36.
Goldberg, Carey. "The Slow Taming of 'Animal House.'" New York Times (February 17, 1999): A10.
Marklein, Mary Beth. "Colleges Nudge Fraternities Toward Restricting Alcohol." USA Today (October 22, 1997): D5.
New York Times (February 19, 1999). "Rethinking Fraternities": A20.
Rosenberg, Debra; Bai, Matt. "Drinking and Dying." Newsweek (October 13, 1997): 69.Nuwer, Hank. Wrongs of Passage: Fraternities, Sororities, Hazing & Binge Drinking. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1999