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Kansas Citians Have Mixed, But Strong Feelings About Sororities And Fraternities

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Jonathan Richard of Brookside recalls being a homesick undergraduate student at Drake University in Iowa in the mid 1990s.

Joining Sigma Chi fraternity made him feel like he was part of a family, even though his real family was in Boston.

“The secret rituals and camaraderie immediately created a special and altogether unique sense of pride and belonging,” Richard wrote us in an email.

“There were certainly stupid antics and drunken parties — but no more so than the typical experience of a college student.”

That is one Kansas Citian’s experience with Greek life.

But when we asked, “Would you recommend joining a fraternity or sorority?” this week on the air and online, the answers were mixed.  

For every positive interaction with Greek college groups, we heard negative associations, too.

Our question comes as the University of Kansas has rejected a sexual assault task force’s recommendations regarding how Greek campus organizations operate and recruit.  

We wanted to know more about how relevant fraternities and sororities are to Kansas Citians. What we found were strong feelings in both directions.

“I attended a large Midwestern university and can absolutely say the Greek system was exclusive, self-absorbed, and self-serving,” Marcia Chapman, of the Northland, tells us in an email.

Chapman says she didn’t feel “rich enough or pretty enough” to be in a sorority when she was in college. Years later, she said she attended a parent orientation meeting at KU where Greek organizations pushed membership.

“I specifically remember them saying that "belonging" with them was the only (their word) way to make friends and get involved in campus life,” she said.

“That kind of exclusionary attitude is reprehensible. The last thing the young people in this country need is more divisiveness.”

Another Kansas City woman acknowledged the Greek stereotype, but said she was pleasantly surprised.

On Facebook, Ethan Curtis said his fraternity gave him invaluable leadership experience.

“Being in a fraternity is one of the only places in the (collegiate) setting where you can get experience managing a large group of individuals, and sometimes learn how to make unpopular decisions,” he wrote.

Others offered more diplomatic responses:

Tell KCUR is part of an initiative to engage the community and shine a light on your experiences and opinions. We’ll ask a new question every week and then share your feedback on the air and online. Check out our arsenal of questions and your answers

Alyson Raletz is the social media editor for KCUR. You can reach her at alyson@kcur.org or on Twitter @AlysonRaletz

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