Just a few weeks ago, when the IFC announced it would temporarily suspend all social events, I remember saying to myself, “That’s a stretch.” However, not for the reasons you may think. I didn’t think it was a stretch because the decision was harsh or uncalled for. I thought this because social media and campus news outlets blew up immediately following the release of this decision. On Twitter people made statements like, “ALL of umich Greek life got shut down until further notice,” and published overdramatic analyses on why the world could potentially implode because of the lack of date parties this season.
The stretch to me is that such a dense population of the student body believes the fraternities that encompass the IFC social organizations represent the entirety of University of Michigan Greek life. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I have no ties to Greek life, nor do I intend to in the near future. I do not want this to be viewed as me being a “hater” or “anti-Greek.” I offer this as a reasonably fair assessment of what I have observed in the Greek scene for the last three years.
Did you know all nine of the historically Black Greek fraternities and sororities have been represented on campus throughout University history and that they form a Panhellenic council? What about historically Latino fraternities and Latina sororities? I have also seen dedication to community service represented in Michigan Greek life and in pre-professional organizations.
So why is it that now the IFC has been suspended, “ALL of umich Greek life got shut down!”
I am not sure about you, but I felt personally offended for those who were indirectly excluded from Michigan Greek life in the wake of the IFC suspension. It’s like getting invited to a party, going and having a great time, only to find out later that it wasn’t actually a good party because the “cool” kids didn’t show up. Even before this, when first arriving to campus, I could notice the very large divide between IFC Greek life and the remainder, which includes multicultural, pre-professional and service fraternities and sororities.
I can say with 100 percent confidence that in three years I have never been to an IFC social event, including tailgates, parties, date parties… all of these sorts of things. I can also say that the majority of my closest friends on campus have not either. Yet we have all attended Michigan Greek life events. That being said — and this is just a hunch here — I highly doubt that Michigan Greek life is “resting in peace.”
I am sure that students on campus know there is more to Greek life at the University than the IFC and its social functions. However, that knowledge was not reflected in the general commentary regarding the news of the IFC suspension. Thus, the implication that the IFC is what “makes” the University’s Greek life is a dangerous one.
Sure, a vast majority of students may love tailgates and date parties sponsored by IFC fraternities, but is this social aspect of the University too much of a vacuum? What I mean to say is, is the student body getting so sucked into the social ongoings of the fraternities encompassed in the IFC that they are blind to other diverse portions of the University’s Greek life?
It is extremely important we make campus a truly inclusive environment. Though it may be seemingly minor to let this extend to Greek life on campus, it is still relevant to maintain the ideals of a holistic and welcoming environment for all, despite what is considered “popular.”
As a campus tour guide — I know, I am one of those annoying people who blocks major entrances and exits to buildings with groups of parents — I tell visitors that about 20 percent of the undergraduate student body is involved in Greek life. I always follow this up by saying, “This includes pre-professional and service fraternities as well.” I became so pressed with questions about things like “bidding” and “rushing” by incoming freshmen, and I had absolutely no idea what this meant.
Accustomed to the inner workings of historically Black Greek life, which encompasses an entirely different “rushing” process, I went home and searched “rushing,” “bidding” and things of this nature for other forms of Greek life on the Internet. This means that, though it was outside of the bubble I know of Greek life, I was willing to respect and acknowledge its other forms and variations, ultimately educating myself.
In one simple statement, I am able to include all, so that there are no misrepresented groups. I say this because I think it would have been simple enough for news outlets or students speaking out on Twitter to be conscious enough to do the same.
Stephanie Mullings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.