Once seventh grade begins for the residents of the usually demure Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, the extravagant, double-envelopes-and-RSVP-card invitations that are more formal than for some weddings, arrive at curbside mailboxes. Bar- and bat-mitzvah season is one of the most exciting and tiring social events of a middle schooler’s life; its only rival, the eighth grade graduation, doesn’t hold a light to the excess celebrations commemorating ones entrance into adulthood.
It is all about choosing the most interesting and innovative theme and carrying out this selection to the nth detail – be it the karaoke for the superstar theme or the precise shade of pink on the stamps chosen to match the RSVP cards. The guest lists are long yet selective and include only the haves who have already experimented (and of course succeeded) with blond highlights and engrossed in the decidedly awesome alternative bands such as Pearl Jam or Green Day.
The PTA and the schools tried to offer the poor souls not invited to any parties a monthly Friday fun night. However, it was more detrimental for someone’s social career to be seen at one of these fun nights if there was in fact a roaring party to which s/he was not invited than the actual noninvite.
This season allows us to grow accustomed to the social scenes in high school and more importantly, those at college and beyond. While high school can be easily dismissed as another hormone-raging, self-defacing nuance of youth, the social life at this University is simply a reinstatement of seventh-grade principles: we are the company we keep and people still judge based on the group to which someone belongs or with whom someone associates.
Receiving an invitation or being dissed becomes an issue about which one can spend hours contemplating. The Multi-cultural Greek Council took a hit in the jugular last year when the Panhellenic representative approached MGC about Greek Week. It was not the welcoming gesture of intermingling that came about at that fateful meeting. Instead, members of MGC were invited to help set-up and clean up after the IFC and Panhellenic, who would actually participate in the events.
They had already made the teams, the guest list of sorts, and could not include us in the festivities. But really, the representative wanted us to be a part of the week-long celebration and simply because we would be cleaning-up after the mud bowl instead of participating in it didn’t mean we were any less part of the Greek system.
But of course, I mustn’t fault the students. After all, we’re expected to make mistakes; we are still that child who is rewarded when he finally succeeds in not peeing on everyone. And our spoon fed education, where professors spend hours reading a syllabus, teaches us to be whiny bitches incapable of reading a syllabus, much less being so PC as to include minorities in our organizations. The MGC is in a sense that somewhat friend you didn’t want at the party but felt bad about not inviting and whom you ask over for lunch the next day. Sadly, the University doesn’t have the courtesy to invite us for leftovers, and in fact, diminishes our existence all together.
The Office of Student Activities and Leadership has been providing students with a publication, Synergy, since 1997 that includes an introduction of student organizations. This year, however, Synergy forgot to mention that besides the IFC and Panhellenic, other options exist for students interested in going Greek. Perhaps it is easy to forget the minorities for whom the University has been fighting in the court system the past six years, or even more likely, perhaps those in the MGC don’t count as minorities. The latter point fails in that the MGC includes some of the “real” minorities, those whom the University considers under-represented. Even while riding on the coattails of a few fraternities and sororities that can be considered “real” minorities, the MGC is denied acceptance and admission.
With the Greek system, a minority fraternity at least made the cover of the information pamphlet, whereas we’re not even on the books at the University. After years of stressing the importance of diversity, the University must take an active role in recognizing and promoting the students who are already part of the college tapestry. While it is necessary to uphold the University’s image as an all-encompassing institution, it would be a nice change if in fact all students, minority, Greek or neither, were accepted for the diversity they each bring to the campus.
Chirumamilla can be reached at email@example.com.