Life is not always a party, even at fraternities and sororities.
But in light of the "Animal House" reputation of many college Greek houses, this weekend's annual Northeast Panhellenic and Intrafraternity Conference in Baltimore has made the changing role of fraternities and sororities on campus the main topic of debate.
"There is certainly a lot of coversation about getting back to the basics of what we originally were meant to do, like education and leadership, as opposed to being just a social center," says Patrick Farley, executive director of the Northeast Intrafraternity conference.
The clubs, whether they are fraternities, sororities, selective or non-selective, have traditionally been the focal point of campus social life.
At Princeton, more than 75 percent of juniors and seniors are members of the school's 13 non-residential eating clubs, which are similar to other schools' Greek communities in forming the nucleus of the university's social life, according to Assistant Dean of Students Stephen Cochrane.
"A club functions as a social center for the members," says Steve U. Stechschulte, president of Princeton's Ivy Club. "They offer a more intimate atmosphere for students to meet than the residential colleges. Its membership is more tightly bound."
"They're very important to the social life here," Cochrane says. "As Princeton is not in a Boston or a Cambridge, we don't have as many social opportunities off-campus."
And even though no more than one-fifth of the students at the University of Pennsylvania belong to fraternities and sororities, "on weekends they support the majority of the social life," says PiKappa Alpha fraternity President Barry A. Fleischer.
UPenn student Laura J. Fuller, former Pan-Hellenic Council president, says that the demand for Greek life at Penn outstrips the supply.
"Housing is a problem here," Fuller says. "We've tried to deal with it by bringing more houses here. "We've added new sororities this year."
None for the Road
But in the wake of recent incidents involving alcohol abuse, universities have begun to crack down on the clubs. This will probably change this social scene in the near future, administrators and students say.
Next year, Tufts University administrators will for the first time take charge of regulating the annual "rush" because of problems with alcohol policy compliance, according to Tufts Associate Dean Bruce H. Reitman.
"Up to this point, rush has been unregulated," Reitman says. "That's going to change this year. Both the Intrafraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council and the administration are drafting a document to regulate rush, since there have been a number of alcohol-related incidents in past years."
Earlier this year, two incidents involving illegal possession of alcohol by under-age Dartmouth students resulted in two fraternities and one sorority being put on probation.