Participation in Greek life low and declining


Greek life has always been a staple of college movies, but at Montana State University Greek life entrance rates are extremely low.

According to MSU’s common data set for 2016-2017, 4 percent and 3 percent of the first-time freshman men and women enter Greek life, respectively. Overall, 2 percent of the MSU population join Greek life as undergraduates.

However, the rates weren’t much higher throughout the past decades. According to the 1996-1997 data set, 9 percent and 10 percent of the freshman men and women joined. The overall rates of undergraduate members joining Greek life were 7 percent for men and 5 percent for women.

Are these low rates endemic to MSU? Looking at MSU’s rival school—the University of Montana—the numbers are difficult to argue with.

At U of M, the percentage of those who join Greek life is also low: 6 percent overall, for both men and women who join as freshman as well as undergraduates in general. According to data from the 2005-2006 school year, the overall percentage is exactly the same.

So, while MSU isn’t the only university in Montana with low rates of students joining Greek life, the next question is whether or not low rates are common outside the state.

Though the data are not specific to first-time freshman, according to the Louisiana State University common data set, 17 percent of men and 28 percent of women join as undergraduates. The numbers have gone up, according to their data set from Fall 1998, when 12 percent of undergraduate men joined, 15 percent of undergraduate women.

In terms of a university with more similarities to MSU, 9 percent and 14 percent of Colorado State University’s men and women, respectively, join as first-time freshmen. 8 percent of undergraduate men and 14 percent of undergraduate women are a part of Greek life at CSU.

According to their oldest data set—from 2000-2001—the numbers are still higher than those of Montana. First-time freshman men and women joined at rates of 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Overall, 8 percent of CSU’s undergraduate men and women were a part of Greek life.

Is there a reason the percentages are so small for Montana, and for MSU specifically?

“The reason I didn’t join,” said Joe Lauenstein, a junior living off-campus, “is because I don’t like the reputation surrounding Greek life.”

There is a reputation to reckon with, especially in terms of hazing and partying. According to an article in USA Today, there has been one death a year due to hazing since 1975, 82 percent of which resulted from binge drinking.

On the other hand, the same article said that 41 of the 44 U.S. presidents were in Greek life, as well as 85 percent of all fortune 500 executives.

Though there are two sides to this coin, Greek life on the MSU campus does not show a trend of increasing.

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