- The 25th Fraternal Law Conference: Celebrating Many Years of Insight and Progress
- Top Risks in Higher Education and How Greek Life Helps
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Makes History in Digital Banking
- Inactivity Results in Eviction by Stanford University, Leaving $32 Million Dollar Chapter Home Standing Empty Despite Its History
- MSU Put on Notice of Shooting Victims’ Intents to Sue
Newsletter > October 2023 > "Top Risks in Higher Education and How Greek Life Helps"
Top Risks in Higher Education and How Greek Life Helps
Dawn Wiese, Ph.D. Chief Operating Officer, FRMT, Ltd.
When talking with higher education administrators, a sometimes-heard university position offered as justification for over-reach and excessive insurance coverage is “fraternities present among our greatest risks on campus.” As a former vice president for student affairs, I know this drill. And, as someone who serves as an expert for both fraternity and higher education litigation, I would argue it is important to review the full landscape on campuses related to risk, as well as strengths that Greek Life offers to campuses.
United Educators, the primary captive insurer in higher education, releases each year its “Large Loss Report”and “Annual Report,” documenting the largest losses in the education industry and greatest risks from the past year. It is from the United Educators’ reports that the idea that “Greek Life is among higher education’s greatest risks” emanates.
Why is this worth reviewing? Greek Life does not even make an appearance in either of the two reports. Moreover, the Annual Report reads as if it is written to encourage—not discourage—partnership with Greek Life.
Why do I say this? The data speak for itself:
United Educators 2022 Top Risks
Risk Number One: Enrollment
As “the demographic cliff” (Grawe, 2018) and “lost” students who never returned to campuses post-Covidhit colleges and universities, retention of students is the name of the game. What population is retained and more likely to graduate on campuses? Greeks!
Risk Number Three: Recruitment and Hiring
House directors, chapter advisors, other volunteers supplement the work of part- and full-time university staff; Greeks provide an entire team of support to colleges and universities that do not cost institutions a thing. And, we know anecdotally that high-performing chapters are advised by strong chapter advisers.
Risk Number Four – Operational Pressures
Higher education is facing significant budget reductions as enrollment declines, particularly those institutions that are not considered “flagships,” or “elites.” When fraternities and sororities assist with staffing and housing, they are directly addressing Number Four on the Top Ten list. Additionally, retaining students (Risk #1) is less costly than attracting new students.
Risk Number Five: Student Mental Health
Data tell us that fraternity members do not experience depression at the same rate as those not affiliated.Moreover, we know that fraternity members are more likely to refer a student to counseling services than a student not affiliated with a Greek organization. AND many of our organizations offer online counseling as a benefit.
Risk Number Six: External Pressures
United Educators cites external pressures such as economic, political, and cultural inflection points as risks for campuses. Proposed mitigation efforts include communicating the value of education to students, families, and community leaders, and engaging with the surrounding community. Once again, this is where Greeks shine. Those who participated in fraternity and sorority life are significantly more likely to serve as net promoters for their alma mater than those who were not affiliated, and we know the same to be true related to community engagement by alums of Greek organizations. If higher education positively engages with its Greek alumni, we know there are huge returns!
Risk Number Eight: Facilities and Deferred Maintenance
Great fraternity houses operated independently of colleges and universities only help the financial stress of schools. As properties that house students that are not the responsibility the college or university’s to provide upkeep and maintenance, it is very real cost savings for campuses.
Risk Number Nine: Public Safety
Recent data (soon-to-be published) inform us that fraternity men are more likely to intervene in times of crisis, including situations involving sexual misconduct, alcohol/other drug misuse, and others. Greeks are naturals at bystander intervention—it’s called brotherhood and sisterhood.
Risk Number Ten: Title IX
Fraternity men are less likely to demonstrate hypermasculine behaviors, and, as noted above, Greeks are more likely to intervene in sexual misconduct.
That is eight of the Top Ten Risks in which Greek Life is an asset to campuses (#2 is “Data Security” and #7 is Regulatory Compliance). When armed with facts, it is an easy argument to make that fraternities simply make colleges and universities better.
Now, it is no time to rest on laurels. What this means is you’re doing your job well; Keep it up! And, it is also important to know the facts. When talking with higher education administrators, remind them that you offer an invaluable partnership to them, and point to their insurer and the data as evidence.
 Large Loss Report 2022, United Educators, https://www.ue.org/4a2b88/globalassets/global/large-loss-report-2022.pdf (last visited Oct. 17, 2023).
 2022 Top Risks Report: Insights for Higher Education, United Educators, https://www.ue.org/4902a8/globalassets/risk-management/reports/2022-top-risks-report-he.pdf (last visited Oct. 17, 2023).
 Nathan Grawe, Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education. Johns Hopkins University Press. (2018).
 Elissa Nadworny, More Than 1 Million Fewer Students Are in College. Here’s How that Impacts the Economy, NPR Morning Edition.(Jan. 13, 2022, 5:02AM), https://www.npr.org/2022/01/13/1072529477/more-than-1-million-fewer-students-are-in-college-the-lowest-enrollment-numbers-.
 John L. Baier & Edward G. Whipple, Greek Values and Attitudes: A Comparison with Independents. 28 NASPA J. 43 (Feb. 2015); Gary R. Pike & Dawn Wiese (in press), The Greek Experience Revisited: The Relationships Between Fraternity/Sorority Membership and Student Engagement, Learning Outcomes, Grades, and Satisfaction with College, J. Campus Activities & Practice; Ashley M. Asel, Tricia A. Seifert, & Ernest T. Pascarella, The Effects Of Fraternity/Sorority Membership on College Experiences & Outcomes: A Portrait of Complexity, 10(1) J. Sorority & Fraternity Life 1 (June 2015).
 Meghan M. Grace et al, The Role of Fraternity/Sorority Affiliation in Supporting College Student Mental Health & Wellness, 17(2) J. Sorority & Fraternity Life 19 (Oct. 2022).
 Fraternities & Sororities: Experiences & Outcomes in College, Work, & Life, Gallup (2021).
 Charles S. Corprew III & Avery D. Mitchell, Keeping it Frat: Exploring the Interaction Among Fraternity Membership, Disinhibition, & Hypermasculinity on Sexually Aggressive Attitudes in College-Aged Males. 55(6) J. Coll. Student Dev. 548 (2014).