Fraternity/sorority dating at American colleges

I’ve heard there is a social expectation that only frat guys should go out with sorority girls; and only sorority girls should go out with frat guys. Unaffiliated people are expected to stay away (stick to their own kind).

Is this true? Is “the dating pool” a good reason by itself for a young person to attempt to join a fraternity or sorority? (Trying to give advice to someone I know…)

My sister married a fraternity guy, and she’s about the least sororities type of girl you’d imagine. His fraternity “brothers” were prominent in the wedding party, and I didn’t detect any kind of exclusionary vibe from them during the various events (rehearsal, bachelor party, ceremony and reception). They did date during their college days, though they were in different universities.

The fact that their respective schools were fierce football rivals was a much bigger deal. And still is twenty years later.

I depends on the school.

a. At some universities greek life is such a part of campus life, it’s hard to have any social life without joining some fraternity/sororoity.
b. At others, it’s a moderate factor, something a person could take or leave and have fun either way.
c. At still others, it’s looked down on and can be a negative to your social life (“so boring he has to buy his friends.” “all douchebags/rapsts”)

I went to a “b” university, and faaar more men than women participated in the greek system. Guys seem to join because they liked the other guys, which is the right reason to join, and not to gain access to some elite pool of quality poon.

And (in case it needs to be said)
d. Some schools don’t have fraternities/sororities.

Yeah, I went to a largish urban state university with a small resident population ( limited dorms ) which was very much a “c” school - sororities and fraternities were tiny, nearly invisible in everyday campus life and when noticed, frequently lightly mocked. I knew one guy who was in one for awhile and I don’t know that he ever dated someone in a sorority. Pickings would have been limited.

This used to be true. It still is, in some places.

Back in ancient times (1970’s) when I was at a big midwestern university, the Greeks had a world of their own. Of maybe 20,000 students on campus, there were about 3000 who joined one of the 25 frat and sorority houses.
They looked down on the rest of the students the way that Marines look down on soldiers in the regular army; and within their own world, they ranked everbody by which Greek letters they wore on their T-shirts. Sigma Alpha Nu guys would prefer to date Kappa Alpha Delta girls, but sometimes they would be willing to lower their standards and date Sigma Beta Chi or even a plain old Gamma Phi.*
And the girls were even more conscious–not only did they pick their dates based on the fraternity, they chose their friends based on which sorority they belonged to. The first (and sometimes the only) question they asked about someone was “which house do you belong to?”
Apparently this mindset still exits…there is a web site called
The rest of the campus simply ignored the whole greek system.

But if you had the right personality for it, it was a good lifestyle for some people, and usually led to getting a good job when you graduated.

*greek letters picked at random :slight_smile:

I’d say that it would only be found in schools with a rich tradition of greek life (Southern schools) and even then I would say it’s more of a self-selecting effect than actual active snobbery - for most frats/srats anyway.

There are certain fraternities and sororities that are more… selective and as such they would only want to date others with similar exclusivity. It’s not just about being rich. Rich north, rich south, lacrosse-oriented, yachting-oriented, academically inclined, WASP, etc.

And furthermore these are only trends. There aren’t any hard line rules or even much social repercussions for dating. It’s just more of a correlation. It’s not like it’s Pretty in Pink and you’ve got James Spader harassing you about your sexual decisions.

Thanks for the replies - kinda sounds like joining a frat or sorority wouldn’t really hurt (socially) and could be a big advantage, depending on the type of school. The anecdote I heard, was about a non-affiliated girl attending a “Greek” party, and being taken aside by the (probably drunk) sorority girls and told to leave the party or else.

It also gives a girl a quick and convenient excuse for turning down a guy she doesn’t like.

I also went to a big Midwestern university, University of Michigan, graduated 1979. I was frat boy. We had a lot of parties with sororities and so tended to meet a lot of them, but we all dated non-sorority girls too and there was no stigma to it whatsoever. We were certainly proud of our fraternity but I didn’t know anybody in a frat or sorority who looked down on non-Greek folks. Although we did think that people who wanted to live in a dorm for 4 years were a little odd (most people either joined a Greek house or moved into an apartment after a year or two in a dorm). I don’t doubt this environment existed on some campuses but it was not universal. I think the snobby attitude might have been more prominent in the pre-Vietnam War era, or after the neo-conservatism of the Reagan years.

This almost exactly describes The University of Alabama when I was there (late 80’s-early 90’s.) From what I understand, not much has changed since then.

There’s a legend at some US schools that the reason that the school doesn’t have any sorority houses is that some local legislator years ago who was writing the morality laws for the town decided to define “brothel” as “more than 6 unrelated women living in the same residence” because he was too prudish to actually write a reasonable definition, and so now the school can’t have sorority houses without those responsible committing a sex offense. I’ve never seen an actual cite for one of these, but the legend was circulating 10 years ago.

It’s not like it’s written in the by-laws or anything.

I went to a school that had a pretty big Greek system. Something like 30% of the 5,000 undergrads belonged to a fraternity or sorority. Of course every Greek house at every school is different. But generally, no. Fraternities and sororities don’t “expect” that you only hang out with your fraternity and it’s sister sorority.

That said, you do have certain financial and social obligations to the house. Brothers are expected to show up to the parties and help organize them. You are expected to perform duties in the maintenance of the house. There are living and social dues that must be paid.

Typically you end up closer to your fraternity brothers because you are with them so much. You also tend to feel more of a bond with other Greeks than non-Greeks (sometimes disparagingly referred to as GDIs or God Damn Independents). Sometimes your fraternity might have an official or unofficial sister sorority that you socialize with.

At my school, undergrads typically moved off campus sophomore year. Even fraternity guys tended to move off campus as well by junior or senior year. Fraternity parties are also pretty open to just about everyone. So people do mix and mingle together.

That would sort of defeat the purpose of joining one. You’re joining an organization of 30+ guys that literally serves no other purpose than to socialize.

Why does a girl need an excuse beyond “ewe…loser”.

I’ve heard that joining Stigma Stigma Stigma can be a real black mark against you…

My undergrad was at a rather liberal state school and there was a current of reverse snobbery against the greeks from the predominantly leftist student body.

I’ve also heard the sorority/brothel urban legend at both my undergrad and grad schools. But at the undergrad school, there were certain floors in some of the highrise girl dorms that were “sorority floors,” i.e. virtual sorority houses.

My Midwestern school was something like 40% Greek at the time (although now, it’s a little lower, but not by much, at 35%). I wasn’t in a frat, but my observation was that there was no particular push for fraternity guys to date sorority girls. Heck, I dated a sorority girl for a spell. I do remember some frats and sororities pairing up with mixer events or semi-formals or something like that, but the guys I knew in fraternities–if they were dating–didn’t seem to discriminate based on Greek status. It’s possible that some of the more selective frats and sororities might be a little more cognizant of Greek status, though, but on average, it didn’t seem to play into it.

Hello Again pretty much nailed it. I have some experience with the topic and I’ll add that even at “(b)” schools there’s a certain cachet associated with fraternity members dating girls from the “right” sororities (and vice versa). That is not to say that I wouldn’t have dated a girl because she wasn’t in the right one (or wasn’t in one at all*), just that ceteris paribus the Tri-Delt is more appealing than the GDI.

It’s an urban legend, and a near-universal one. I’ve heard of it and/or been asked about it by people from literally dozens of colleges and universities across the country.

I was very briefly a student at the University of Mississippi (1977) and it appeared that a high percentage of students were defined by the Greek system, either as members or as pledges or as people trying to get in or as people bewailing their failure to do so, or even, for the dismissively contemptuous who wanted nothing to do with it or with those who were a part of it, the label “god damned independents” aka GDI.

And yeah… if it wasn’t necessarily true that all sorority women would only date guys in fraternities, it was at least true that many female students would dismiss from consideration any guys who were not in a fraternity. There was probably significantly more of a social world of students who were fully oblivious to the whole Greek thing but as a newbie freshman it seemed like an immense issue.

To me, coming in from New Mexico, it was freaky. I thought I’d accidentally time-travelled to 1963 or something.

I saw Animal House in the summer and basically moved into it that fall. Living in a very alcohol-soaked fraternity house at 17 might not have been the best thing for me, in retrospect.

That being said, I guess about a third of the girls I dated were in sororities. The other two thirds were split between our house’s little sisters and girls unassociated with the Greek system.

It’s just their way of keeping higher IQs out of the gene pool.