At a time when students and campuses are seeking to identify high-impact leadership development experiences as they navigate the after-effects of COVID-19 and its impact on students, a new study affirms that fraternity members exhibit higher levels of peer accountability and a willingness to intervene compared to their unaffiliated peers.
Sponsored by Phi Gamma Delta International Fraternity, the results of this national study indicate that fraternity members exhibit a better understanding of how to intervene in difficult situations; understand how to hold their peers accountable to agreed-upon standards; and are more comfortable and confident in intervening.
“The fraternity experience is built on the concept of peer governance and accountability as students develop and practice critical leadership lessons that allow them to build skills which will help them succeed throughout their lives,” said Judson Horras, president and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference. “This study shows that fraternities are leading the way in helping students build these skills, grow as leaders and create a sense of belonging, which is something we know that young men need now more than ever.”
Additionally, through this study, fraternity members identify a stronger sense of belonging and being part of a larger community than their peers. This reinforces outcomes of previous research from the Postsecondary Education Research Center at the University of Tennessee that fraternity members report higher levels of support and positive mental health, as well as a 2020 study by Dr. Gary Pike that shows fraternity and sorority membership is associated with significantly higher levels of engagement on a number of measures inclusive of: high impact practices, collaborative learning, student-faculty interactions, perception of a supportive campus environment and discussions with diverse others—including people from different races, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, religious beliefs and political views.
Key findings from the Peer Accountability Study:
- Fraternity members report higher levels of reported understanding of how to practice accountability and the role intervention plays in accountability.
- Fraternity members report higher levels of comfort and confidence in regard to practicing peer accountability.
- A greater portion of students who identified as fraternity members reported prior experiences in engaging in peer accountability behaviors compared to unaffiliated undergraduate men, especially in regard to providing accountability related to academics, hazing, alcohol or substance misuse, campus policy violation, professional goals, and when friends are engaging in an unsafe manner.
- Over half (57%) of students who identified as fraternity members indicated participating in a training or educational experience related to peer accountability or intervention. Of those fraternity members who have received training, most received it from their fraternity (78%) and college/university (74%).
- Fraternity members report a greater sense of belonging and feeling of being a valued member of their campus community than their unaffiliated peers. They also cite a greater responsibility to support the personal and professional growth of their friends/peers.