The Fraternity-Sorority Double Standard

Everyone has heard the saying, “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” so it should come as no surprise that in many situations the two genders are separated and treated differently.

This is increasingly true on the campus of the College of New Jersey (TCNJ), a small school just outside of Trenton. Here, just as on other college campuses, there is a Greek system – eight sororities and eight fraternities making up 29% of the campus community. In the past few years at TCNJ, the inequalities between the two sectors of Greek life have become blatantly obvious. Sorority women have, and continue to be, held to a stricter set of standards than their fraternity counterparts. While fraternities are given a lenient set of guidelines to follow, sororities are forced to abide by harsh rules (or face the risk of serious consequences).

That is why when it comes to Greek life, the double standard is not a lofty idea, it is a persistent and increasing problem that sorority women at TCNJ, and other schools around the country, are dealing with. Every aspect of being Greek, from recruitment to the social scene, is governed by rules and standards that are vastly different depending on whether an individual is a male or female.

The inequalities can be seen in the case of sorority and fraternity recruitment. It is no secret that “rushing a fraternity is generally much more informal than rushing a sorority.” While fraternities must hold a handful of formal rushes and recruiting events, the majority of the process is informal, largely consisting of throwing parties. On the contrary, sorority recruitment is almost entirely formal. Rush is usually made up of a series of rounds in which each potential new member (PNM) must meet and greet the sisters of every organization (the PNM’s preferences for one sorority over another is unimportant until the last of the recruitment rounds). The sorority recruitment standards are so strict and structured that a sister is forbidden to talk to a potential new member during the process outside of the designated times and rooms allocated for rush.

These differences in fraternity and sorority standards, especially in regards to recruitment, do not go unnoticed by Greek life members. A sister of the Delta Zeta chapter at TCNJ describes recruitment saying, “The boys get to see the real person they’re recruiting, out in a normal college setting at a party or on campus, but we girls are stuck in the [recruitment] rooms asking unimportant questions, like "what would you eat for the rest of your life if you could only have one food," trying to get to actually know these new girls. It's like the frats are at a complete advantage which isn’t fair.”

When rushing a fraternity, quantity is everything. It is about how many of the brothers a PNM knows that determines whether or not he will get a bid. When rushing a sorority, it's about quality and the rules; whether a PNM can break through the artificial questioning and form a bond in the allocated time set aside for rounds.

Clearly men and women are from the same planet, but one would never know it after examining the double standard that pervades the Greek system.

Photo Credit: Murray State