About 27 percent of University of Kentucky’s full-time undergraduate population participates in Greek life.
Perhaps many of these people joined because they wanted to forge bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood for their time in college and beyond. But are these bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood truly available to everyone? The answer is no.
The vast majority of Greek life is white, and many people of color feel uncomfortable joining an organization that does not have many members who look like them. A 2016 Kentucky Kernel story revealed that Greek life was 94.7 percent white in the 2006-07 school year and 88 percent white in the 2015-16 school year. But these small improvements in diversity are not enough.
It’s about more than race, though. There is an economic divide associated with Greek life. On average, it costs about $350-$750 per semester to be in a fraternity or sorority here at UK.
But those costs just represent the basic fees associated with membership. When Greek organizations host themed events like “90’s Night” or require a certain dress code during recruitment and other events, costs add up. Buying clothes that fit in with these themes and requirements is an added stress for students.
Members of Greek life are driven to find the perfect outfit and to look their best at all times. Everyone’s Instagram feeds will be full of rush and bid photos, showing picture-perfect people with hair and nails done, glowing makeup and coordinating outfits.
If someone does not have the money or if their personality is not one of constant upkeep and perfection, Greek life seems like it’s not for them. Since this upkeep requires a certain amount of money and privilege, it is no wonder that the majority of fraternities and sororities are overwhelmingly white.