A Gettysburgian Responds: The 4:1 fraternity ratio reconsidered

Photo courtesy of gettysburg.edu

Photo courtesy of gettysburg.edu

By Greg Sachs, Contributing Writer

This piece is in response to an article that appeared in The Gettysburgian on November 7th, 2015, which can be found by clicking here.

As a student and citizen of the Gettysburg College community, I too have a problem with the notion of a “Fraternity Ratio” – a required number of females that must accompany an unaffiliated male into a fraternity party. At the start of my first year at Gettysburg, I was quickly made aware of this concept and immediately had objections to the idea of women being used as a form of currency in exchange for admittance to a party. Nonetheless, I felt there wasn’t much I could do about it at the time and begrudgingly planned many of my weekend nights around the number of girls I could find to walk into a house with me.

However, as a member of the Greek community, one who has spent many a night on the porch charged with deciding who to let in and who to turn away, I now see that process from a completely different side, and the author’s analysis of what goes into that decision could not be more wrong. While I can only speak in definitive terms on behalf of my own fraternity, I can assure you that there is no set “ratio” enforced.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no process of sizing up women and deciding whether or not they are sufficiently visually appealing to grace our house with their presence. Yes, it’s true that you may feel the weight of many pairs of eyes looking at you as you walk up to our porch, but we would do that to our friends, professors or even JMR if she were approaching our house. It’s also true that when you walk up to the porch we are indeed running through a mental checklist, but no item on that list includes the “height of your heels” or “volume of your hair” as the author of the original article accuses. Primarily, we’re checking to see if we know you as you, because most Greek students are a part of many different social circles and know a great number of people on campus. If we don’t, no problem, you’re still welcome under most circumstances. Second, we look to make sure you’re not blatantly intoxicated, because regardless of if you took twenty shots in your dorm room and didn’t have a single sip of alcohol in the confines of our house, it’s on us if you stumble out and end up getting transported.

Sure, we openly admit that we prefer it freshman guys bring women to our parties because most parties include dancing and many of us prefer to dance with women, but claiming that females at Gettysburg are participating in “such an objectifying and degrading fraternity system” is a stretch, to say the least. That is not to say we never let freshman guys in if they show up without women by their side, because that is just not true.

Additionally, both school policy and the chapter bylaws of every fraternity on campus prohibit charging for admission to parties. Thus, a significant portion of the dues we pay each semester go towards making open parties possible, both in the form of purchasing supplies for each party and in paying our lofty insurance premiums in case anything were to go awry. Because of this, not to mention the fact that our houses are just that, our houses, I think it’s more than fair that members of a fraternity get to dictate who we let in.

Usually, when we decide to turn people away, it’s because the house is at capacity or the person in question has caused us problems in the past, but I promise you, physical appearance has nothing to do with that decision. If you show up to a party in sweatpants and a t-shirt, we don’t consider that a reason not to let you in. Hell, show up in Crocs if you want, nobody will bat an eye. We go under the assumption that women dress for themselves, not for us. If you don’t wish to participate in the Greek system, that’s your decision. Still, we open our houses to the community (and, in doing so, accept an immense amount of risk and liability for the countless things that could go wrong at an open party) in hopes that all who attend have a safe and enjoyable time. So please, next time you want to go out, wear whatever you want, just introduce yourself on the porch and maybe get to know us for the people we are, not the people the media portrays members of fraternities to be.

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