The Pride Project: Being a student at a Greek-free university

This is the first post of our series called, The Pride Project, which will focus on discussing why GU students should be proud on a variety of topics ranging from learning disabilities to not having a football team at GU. On your Instagram and twitter use our HASHTAG: #prideproject to show your pride and get the conversation started about these topics that go undiscussed.


Be proud to go to a university without a Greek system.

GU freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors coming together to show their pride. #prideproject

GU freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors coming together to show their pride. #prideproject

Last month’s Bulletin article about a potential fraternity coming to GU sparked a wave of heated conversations about Greek life here at GU.

Gonzaga thrives without sororities or fraternities. We have a close-knit community that focuses on connectedness and inclusivity. With a small student population, there is no need to bring Greek life to GU because students can find their niche and feel supported by the community that surrounds them.

Some say that what brought them to GU was that there is no Greek system.

“One of the big draws of GU for me was the absence of Greek life. Without Greek life, you are encouraged and forced to make friends with people you meet in your dorm or in class or at dinner. There is no hierarchy or sense of one person being better than another simply because of the fraternity or sorority that they belong to,” GU Senior on College Prowler.

Many GU students have commented about the absence of Greek life on College Prowler, a website that rates universities for prospective students

“Gonzaga’s dearth of Greek life is typical of Jesuit universities, which have traditionally tried to create an ethos antithetical to the hazing and binge drinking typically associated with Greek life. Gonzaga students seem to be content with that; the general impression being that this helps keep the number of alcohol-related deaths and sexual assaults in check,” GU sophomore on College Prowler.

We should all be proud that we go to school that doesn’t allow a Greek systems because without fraternities and sororities issues of sexual assault, drugs and alcohol are better controlled. GU students are safer without at Greek system.

Body image for men and women are highlighted in the Greek system because of the overwhelming pressure to “fit in” to the strict mold of a student in Greek life. You know exactly what I’m talking about. An example of hazing in Greek life is a washing machine ritual where sorority pledges stand on top of a washing machine, while members draw on parts of the body that jiggle. This would never be tolerated at Gonzaga.

Santa Clara University, a Jesuit institution, has an off campus Greek system that is unaffiliated with the university. Issues within SCU’s Greek system range from hazing, alcohol, drugs, negative body image, sexism and racism. While Santa Clara is an excellent university with driven students, it’s Greek life fails to represent Santa Clara accurately. Last year, one of the fraternities at SCU was in NBC local news for creating a “stripper cage” with hanging chains and offensive language painted on top. Watch the NBC news video in the hyperlink.

“At Santa Clara, we can see how the Greek system has pulled students off of campus and weakened our community. Students have to constantly choose between participating in SCU programs or going to their sorority’s or frat’s events,” said a student from Santa Clara. “The Greek life basically operates independently from campus life. It’s sad to see our community split in two.”

Gonzaga’s student life creates healthy and safe environment for students from all backgrounds. Students can discover communities at GU that suit them for their passions, skills and interests versus how well they did in their pledge class or what type of partying they are into.

A GU Junior said, “GU serves special opportunity for social and leadership involvement on a silver platter. All the students have to do is decide which group on campus best suits them and it’s as easy at that.”

Many GU ambassadors say that one of the strongest qualities that prospective students see on campus is the spirit and energy that students have for GU. Our pride for GU isn’t weakened by pride in exclusive sororities or fraternities. Sorority functions or frat parties would sway students away from participating and becoming leaders at GU. The absence of a Greek system at GU encourages students to support GU events and programs like GUSR, GU Outdoors and intramurals. GU intramurals is ranked 7th in Princeton Review for participation and I’d like to bet that if we had a Greek system, we wouldn’t have such a strong intramural participation.

For students that feel the need to become part of a brotherhood or sisterhood GU has Knights and Setons for students to participate in community service and team building.


To bring in an economic perspective…

The price of being in a sorority: At USC its $1,300 per year not including housing and food.

The price of being in a fraternity: At USC its $1,200 per year not including housing.

The Pride Project wants to start a conversation about why GU students should be proud to go to school without Greek life.

Like this post on Facebook and on our WordPress page to show your pride in a Greek-free Gonzaga!

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Categories: Campus Life

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16 replies

  1. While I do agree there are many negative aspects of the Greek system, there are some points raised here I do not agree with. First and foremost is the idea that pride for a fraternity or sororrity would take away from the pride for GU. This makes no sense to me. Pride for a program does not mean pride is taken away from the greater institution. That is equivalent to saying the young men and women in the Army ROTC program here at GU cannot have as much pride as someone solely involved in GU programs. I can tell you first hand that ROTC men and women are extremely proud of their commitment and the US Army. That does not take away from the pride they feel for GU. My second concern is the point raised about Greek life taking students away from Gonzaga activities and programs. Gonzaga students are constantly active and involved, often over-involving themselves around campus. That being said, male participation is drastically lower in comminity service on campus than women’s participation. One good aspect of Greek life is that it does include a requirement of community service hours. If the fraternitites were to look for the easiest route to achieve these, I garauntee it would be to go through CCASL, the biggest community service organization at Gonzaga. I simply cannot believe that a Greek life would remove students from Gonzaga programs. As for the negative aspects of Greek life (hazing, sexual assault, negative body image), I believe that it is not inherrently the system that creates these. If the students remained against such negative aspects, they would not be a part of the system. As Gonzaga has a relatively small problem with these negative aspects, though it does exist, I do not believe that the inclusion of Greek life would inherrently increase all of the problems. I believe that all of the concerns raised in this post stem from the fact that the Greek life is not allowed to be associated with the school. The dissasociation is what leaves the space for the negative aspects to flourish. The dissasociation means that the university has little room to step in and fight these negative aspects as well as means that the Greek life has no way to access the resources already in place at the university. Gonzaga University is well equipped to help raise awareness and prevention of sexual assault (GreenDot, SWRCC, SASHA) and drinking problems (SWRCC and Choices courses), but it is no help at all if it cannot team with a Greek life. It is not the system that creates problems. There are many positive aspects to Greek life, and the lack at Gonzaga was actually the biggest disadvantage of coming here for me, but I have not chosen to become involved with the new Spokane Chapter of Kappa Siggma. The lack of association means the school and fraternity can never truly work together, and that conflict will create monsters on both sides. I am proud to be a Zag, and that will never change. Thank you for bringing issues to the table that we can all discuss and come together as a community. Go Zags!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I dissagree with your belief that the negative aspects of Greek life are not inherent, as these organizations, whatever reason they start, tend to draw people who wish to partake in those activities. Fraternities and Sororities have a long standing history of drinking, partying, hazing and other negative impacts. Do a simple google search of the frat under news and you will see numerous issues caused. Whether or not they raise money or participate in other activities there will still be this darker side drawn to the frat, something that is at odds with Gonzaga’s goals and beliefs.

      Lastly, how would lack of association between Gonzaga and the fraternity create monsters? If the frat continues to act as a recognized member of Gonzaga’s organizations then the school has the right to ensure its own ideas, goals and views are protected. If the frat is not recognized then it must accept that, as the school has final say in the matter. Gonzaga has got on fine without one the entire time, and we have many organizations in place that provide service already that do not have negative connotations or negative history, so why should we take a chance with a new organization that has a longstanding history of hazing, drinking and partying?

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    • How does this justify it? It is not an issue of people not being able to be successful after Gonzaga,(GU students are pretty well off after college) its an issue of what we want to allow to be part of GU and what may be tied to that.

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  2. “85% of Fortune 500 executives were part of Greek life. The first female astronaut was Greek. So was the first female senator. And college graduation rates are 20% higher among Greeks than non-Greeks.”

    USA Today would like to disagree with you. While you may be glad you go to a University without a Greek community, I am damn glad I attend a University with one.

    Also, check out this diagram for a little more of a clear picture as to what you’re missing out on.

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    • To the anonymous poster above. You should be proud of attending a university with the illustrious privilege of a Greek system just like we are proud of going to a university that is devoid of the drama and filth often brought on by a Greek system. That’s what I believe is the intent of the author, to be proud of where you come from. This is not an attack on your school for having one, it is just a discussion on why we as Zags are proud to not have one.

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    • Thats the beauty of having no greek system, if we don’t want one we go to a school that doesn’t have one. If you want one, then go to a school with one. I don’t think that people become more successful by being in greek life, I think people who are more likely to be successful later in life choose to join greek life.

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    • 85%? That number is ridiculous. Everyone loves to ascribe the characteristics of their group to the set of Fortune 500 CEO’s, but at least be a bit more reasonable.

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  3. If anything, GU should be adding Greek life to show other fraternities and sororities how to act, it more sounds like the student body is insecure of what would happen if Greek life was brought to campus. I go to a campus with Greek life and I know plenty of kids in Greek life who don’t drink and have a fantastic time in their fraternity and so sororities. My sister was the president of her sorority and she absolutely loved all her sisters and the time she spent with her fraternity. I find it ironic that instead of helping correct the Greek system by being a school with a model Greek life, your school is shrugging away. It’s not easy to be Christian/Catholic in a world like today’s, but we should be aspiring to be leaders in our community. I personally believe a respectable school such as GU and other Catholic universities could help create a movement to create a better Greek system world wide by helping show that Greek ideals and Christian ideals don’t have to clash. This article makes it sound like your students think they are better than students that go to schools with Greek life, and nobody wants to convert to a faith of stuck up people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ignoring my desire to reply sarcastically, there are three things i would like to point out.

      A. If you want to attend a school with greek life then please just go to one that has greek life. Gonzaga has been chosen by quite a few students (myself included) because it did not have greek life.

      B. about 52% of the student population is not Catholic, so please dont make comments about our school being a “faith of stuck up people”. We have lots of other groups and organizations dedicated to awareness, education, and equality.

      C. Greek life has negative aspects associated with it that GU does not wish to encourage, and the basic idea is that by allowing greek culture it will draw more students who wish for the ‘Animal House’ version of greek life. this is an issue of whether or not Gonzaga wants to take the chance on allowing a group with that kind of history and stigma when it has other clubs and organizations that are perfectly viable already and line up with the ethos of the school.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My Name is Thayne and I support Greek!

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  5. Knights and Setons are both selective on who they welcome into their cliques. The facts in this article are biased and flawed. Monica, I have to ask you how you can say Knights and Setons are a welcoming organization but a Frat isn’t? Also you bring up an interesting point on drinking, and it seems to me that based on FACTS these so called “clubs” are on their last legs in terms of their alcohol violations. Monica, as a independent student and not a member of Knights or a Frat/Sorority please rethink your facts.

    Go Zags!!!!!!

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  6. Michael,
    Thank you for such an eloquent and well-written response. I appreciate the time and effort you put into your comment and I agree with you that its great to get this conversation started with GU. I also agree that universities with Greek life that are unaffiliated with the university, like at Santa Clara, have a difficult time regulating and working with frats and sororities. If schools were to have a Greek life, I believe it would be better for the Greek system to be associated directly with the university instead of being separate with a chapter of a local region. I understand your point about pride in ROTC not taking away pride from GU, but I was discussing how participation with university programs and clubs would diminish as students put more of their time into Greek life and not campus life. Thank you again for your input and I’m happy to see your passion in this Michael!

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  7. As to the anonymous comments, you two bring up some great points and I’m glad to see your research in this area. It’s also great to see that students outside of Gonzaga are reading this and joining in the conversation. As your comments bring up some great successes from students in the Greek system, there are still negative aspects associated and created by the Greek system. It’s great to see Greek students be successful because they are defying expectations, but I’m still proud to go to a school without a Greek system. Check out the article that “Zag Parent” commented, it’s an in depth analysis by The Atlantic that might help your perspective. Thank you so much for your contribution!

    Daniel, thank you for your response! You bring up some great points that bring the positives of the Greek system to life. I agree that “Greek ideals and Christian ideals don’t have to clash,” but in most cases they do. The way I see Gonzaga creating a movement, as you talked about in your comment, is by to not having a Greek system and still have students receive a supportive and close- knit community where they feel encouraged to become leaders on campus. I totally understand how at larger schools, a Greek system is need to create this close-knit community, but the size of GU allows for students to have a sense of belonging without a Greek system. Thanks again Daniel, for your response! Have a great day!

    Zag Parent: Awesome article! Thanks so much for the link and new perspective!

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  8. I’m a student at Western Washington University, and if you didn’t know we also do not have a greek system here. Some of my very best friends are in fraternities at the University of Washington and at Washington State University. An important point everyone is missing is that not all greek systems are the same. Personally, I see the greek system as a bit of a continuance of the social structure of high school. It’s a smaller community, the fraternity or sorority you join allows people to make an instant judgement about you, and everyone seems to comply more to sociatal expectations. There are positives such as making friends immediately and being a part of a smaller community, and really just the support network of it all. However, its also a trap. And since I haven’t been a part of it, it’s easier for me to write on the negatives from an outsiders perspective. From what I have gathered from my friends experiences, everything they do unless academic or intramural is through the frat. They miss out on a lot of other people and events going on at their school because it becomes really easy to stay in your frat and with your group of people. That is not what college is about. Not for me at least. I’m here to expand my horizons. At the end of the day, everyone should be allowed to make their own choices and if you want to go to a school with a greek life and be a part of that, then by all means do that. From my experiences visiting high school friends at UW and WSU, I have noticed that I have to practically split my time like with my divorced parents visiting the greek side of the campus, and the non-Greek side. It definitely creates two different worlds of either you’re in or you’re out. Personally I don’t like that and I choose to attend a school where that doesn’t exist. I understand that whats for me isn’t for everyone though, so its important to have schools where it does and doesn’t exist so everyone can go either be a part of it, or not. This is coming from a WWU junior who has never attended a university with a greek system, and all of my experiences involving the greek system are from me visiting UW and WSU. I spent a few weekends at WSU and countless at UW, being a West Seattle native.

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