Greek life. Two words that have, by themselves, the same innocence afforded to them as any other. However, when you put those two words together, they automatically assume an air of negativity. The first stereotypical thoughts that people have when they hear the words “Greek life” are unfortunately those of incessant partying, rape, sexual harassment, drinking, hazing, racism and entitlement. And because of recent events, Greek life has never before been attacked in the way it is now.
With everything going on lately, there have been two sides, of sorts, that have sprouted up surrounding the topic. The first is that of the media and general population: Greek life is a menace that fosters humiliating practices which need to be ended immediately on every level. The second is members of Greek life, who feel victimized and generalized by everything that has gone on recently, causing them to spout off any and all facts about how helpful Greek life is, with which I, as a proud member of Beta Theta Pi, do not disagree.
However, neither of these sides is very helpful in moving forward. They both defend what they believe in because they are passionate about their beliefs, and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to defend his or her ideals. However, in this case, the worst thing that can happen is dividing us into two sides.
People aren’t really mad at Greek life. People aren’t enraged about college students coming together in brotherhood or sisterhood. They are upset about the horrible acts that are broadcasted nationwide — events like racist chants, reports of sexual assault and rape and even people committing suicide. These are the real reasons why people are up in arms. The nation is trying to find some sort of outlet for this anger, and because the media can paint an easy target on Greek life, fraternities and sororities nationwide are now under the scrutiny of the societal magnifying glass, looking for any excuse to try to burn the whole system to the ground. They do this because it’s easy to confront something physical, like Greek life, and because people find it interesting to read about, which helps ratings. However, the real problem lies in the societal shortcomings and defects that allow for these atrocities to happen.
The fact is this: these sorts of tragedies happen far too frequently at every college campus across the nation. Issues like sexual assault and mental illness are still considered taboo. The problem with our society isn’t Greek life members committing terrible acts. The problem is that we, as a culture, haven’t worked hard enough to get rid of the overarching problems that allow people to do these terrible things.
We haven’t supported the survivors of sexual assault as a nation. We have looked down upon the events as something terrible without fully realizing the emotional and physical toll that the survivor must go through, for perhaps the rest of their lives, as a result. We haven’t made it socially acceptable for someone with a mental or physical illness to reach out to a friend or ask for help. Instead, they try to struggle against it themselves. We haven’t educated people enough about personal identities and how they can be complex and fragile at times.
We haven’t done this because we are always pointing fingers. The problem with this is that the true evil doesn’t care about sides. The only way to combat this injustice is through unity, understanding and communication. And until we learn that, we will never be able to rid these evils from our world.
Paul Deford is an LSA junior.