Greek Tripe

By Sasha Debevec-McKenney

I came to Beloit College so I could meet, eat with, live with and exclusively hang out with people who are exactly like me. Unfortunately, I have yet to join a sorority, so that will probably never happen. Why haven’t I been asked to join a sorority yet? I’m black, so surely I fill some sort of quota. Yet I’ve been feeling left out lately. I saw “Hell Week” on Theta’s windows and thought, “I wish I could be going through hell this week. Then I’d really feel like I fit in.” I heard Phi Psi chanting outside my window and thought, “If only my friends wanted to chant with me, then I’d really know that we’ll be friends forever.” I heard Kappa Delta singing to the girl who lives next to me and upon finishing that song, someone shouted, “Hugs all around!” and I burst into tears because I felt so alone. Why don’t groups of people sing and then hug me?

Let’s be honest: Greek life is creepy. When I see a group of grown men stalking up and down College Street like a douche-army, I get uncomfortable. (Can you blame me?) A bunch of college-aged women referring to each other as “great girls” is kind of degrading and downright inappropriate. But apparently there are people who see that and wish they could be a part of it. Why do people even join fraternities and sororities? They should be reserved for the kind of people whose social skills are so minimal they literally need to live in a house and be forced to spend time with people in order to make friends. Other than that, and the free refreshments at rush events, I don’t see the point. I have friends who participate in Greek life and they constantly complain about meetings they have to go to, the parties where they have to work security, and the people who are in charge. But, of course, all of those legitimate contradictions fly away in the face of groupthink.

There is a lot happening on campus that drove me to write this piece. First, the loud noise that is mysteriously synonymous with Greek life. Stop. I would honestly prefer you haze each other quietly in a basement than come out into the open and make it hard for me to fall asleep. I also despise the fact that fraternity and sorority houses populate our campus’ main drag. When Phi Psi moved into 810, housing for upperclassmen went down and freshmen were forced into 819, far from campus. Naturally I was relieved when Kappa Delta didn’t get French house. We need more special interest houses on College Street because people here actually major in Geology, Anthropology, Art, Music, French, Spanish, and WGST, whereas I’m not sure that fraternity brothers major in much—according to the Greek report The Round Table published in March, Sig Chi’s GPA last semester was 2.8 and TKE’s was 3.1, both of which are under the college average. (Side note: I’m sick of having to walk past games of cornhole as I walk to class—shouldn’t you be doing homework?)

We advertise the college as international and progressive, yet if you came for a quick visit you’d be immediately welcomed by an outdated college tradition. Our college is too small, and too good, for Greek life. If there were 40,000 students here then I would understand the need to associate with such a strongly bound group. But there are 1,300, and getting to know people is as easy as going out on the weekends or sitting at a different table in Commons.

I am a sensible (though easily irritated) person. I don’t like being hugged. I know that I’m stubborn. I know that even without fraternities and sororities, we would still have cliques. People who don’t participate in Greek life have exclusive social groups. I know that fraternities and sororities do contribute to the campus, that they volunteer and raise money—but doesn’t everybody? Giving a symposium is more beneficial to this campus than throwing a party, and not just because symposiums mean an entire day off class, but because they show how dedicated the student body is to their education. There are classes offered every semester for which volunteer work is required in order to pass. So, no, I’m not impressed by the reported $2,487 that all the sororities and fraternities combined raised in Fall 2010, or how many hours they volunteered. It doesn’t stop them from being creepy. Even if somebody paid me $2,487 I wouldn’t rush a sorority, I wouldn’t refrain from speaking for a week, I wouldn’t act as if a three-letter acronym summed up my beliefs about this world: RDR? WTF. Why are these actions being rewarded with on-site chefs? Beloit isn’t about finding a comfort zone and staying there, which is the mindset that Greek life epitomizes.



7 thoughts on “Greek Tripe

  1. Wow. Just wow.
    I get it; you don’t like Greek life. But you admit to not knowing a lot of things — yet, you cast an opinion on them anyway? That’s not journalism, that’s smut. That’s populist, “please read this sensational exclamation of my unfounded thoughts” smut.
    You fail to establish any clear definition or explanation for this moniker, “creepy”. Something you have no interest in? Hugging? Singing? Did you hate Sesame Street as a child? God knows, Barney must have creeped the shit out of you.
    Next, I question whether you have any idea what Greek life is like at other colleges. Greek life at Beloit is timid, tame, soft spoken compared to other schools. We also have FAR MORE special interests houses than most schools, per capita total, certainly competitive with any school as far as the bredth of interests goes. And you complain about folks being pushed to 819 Clary, so far from campus; do you know what 819 was prior to being the Phi Psi house? I was there: it was student housing. The house just reverted to its former state (with, might I add, quite a few domestic improvements).
    Don’t get me started on your ridiculous use of adverbs in this paper.
    And I’m really confused about how it’s downright inappropriate for college girls to refer to themselves as “great girls.”
    Your entire argument rests upon you being uncomfortable and not upon any legitimate complaint as to why. Okay, maybe cornhole or hugging or singing makes you uncomfortable. But does that mean everyone should stop these things?

    Fact check. Form a coherent defense of your views. If you were may student and were grading this as an essay, I’d return it spilled with red ink. It is malicious without rhyme or explicit reason.

    Posted by Andrew | April 15, 2011, 11:37 pm
  2. Leaving aside the fact that my brotherhood in Phi Psi since my freshman year was the driving force behind nearly every great experience I had at Beloit, there are enough problems and pieces of blatant misinformation in this article to fill an entire corrections section. Despite the fact that it’s an op-ed, many of the assertions in here border on libel. The Greek organizations on Beloit’s campus are all vehemently opposed to hazing, though I suppose the writer could be forgiven for mistaking the sound of students a good time for some kind of painful ritual. Though the fraternities and sororities on campus may have a long history, calling us “outdated” is both inaccurate and disingenuous; without the huge amounts of effort put in by Beloit’s Greek organization’s, the college’s social scene would be lukewarm at best. You have only to look at the weeks of planning put into any fraternity or sorority party to see this function at work. I would argue that the Greek organizations also play a huge part in recruiting new students to the college, whether it’s through prospie hosting, events, or just giving prospective students a completely informal forum in which to talk to current students and experience Beloit life as it happens, not just as Gold Key depicts it. I challenge any Beloit student to find an organization on campus that brings together different facets of Beloit culture as well as we have and will continue to do.

    To the writer, whatever you may feel about Greek organizations, at least acknowledge the positive role they play on Beloit campus. You seem to think that we exist only to annoy people, going out of our way to creep out anyone who isn’t part of the inner circle, while only volunteering and contributing to charity out of some ulterior motive. Nothing could be further from the truth, and to blatantly depict such assertions as fact is a disservice to yourself, the organizations in question, and the college who supports them as a whole.

    You also seem to contradict yourself sentence by sentence. Immediately after your assertion that getting to know people is as easy as switching Commons tables, you go on to talk about how cliquey the college is. You talk about the folly of throwing parties instead of writing symposiums without bothering to check how many Greek members give symposiums and other such talks every semester (a whole hell of a lot, FYI). And most importantly, you write of the idea of straying outside one’s comfort zone, while vehemently attacking groups of people who make the slightest intrusion into yours. While I fully understand that Greek life is not for everyone, I would hope that an intelligent Beloit College student would open his or her mind enough to acknowledge the strong positive impact Beloit’s fraternities and sororities have had on many lives, mine included.

    To the Round Table, I find myself appalled by the standard of “journalism” you are allowing into what was once a lauded Beloit publication. While I understand that not everyone has the ability to write a good article, pieces like this and many others have no place in a legitimate publication. Articles, even op-eds, making unqualified attacks that approach libel on respected organizations are the kind of thing I would expect from Fox News and the like; pieces meant not to inform, but provoke, aiming not for excellence, but for shock value. I urge the editors to seriously consider how such pieces reflect on the publication as a whole. Without such standards, your billing as a publication that “provides a balanced, accurate news source for the Beloit College community. It is an outlet for creative minds that take the news seriously. We will sink our teeth into the meat of journalistic excellence with a lupine ferocity” starts to ring rather hollow.

    Posted by Adam Eckert | April 16, 2011, 4:44 am
  3. As a Beloit alum, there are two things Beloit gave me that I have found most valuable in post-grad life. The first is the numerous and deep human connections I made there– friends that I will have for the rest of my life, friends who altered, grew, and bettered my life. The other is critical thinking and writing skills.
    For the latter of those things, I am embarrassed for you. This article, even as an Op-Ed, is littered with subjective and ad hominem attacks. Adam has already addressed this, so I won’t belabor the point too much. I will advise that, if you hope to get into grad school, or even graduate Beloit, you make future writing efforts more based on fact and logical philosophical discussion. For example, your point about ‘great girls’…no where do you state in which context the phrase ‘great girls’ was ever used. How is that phrase representative of misogyny in sorority life? If you cared to investigate what terminology is ACTUALLY used (in a more scholarly and anthropological fashion), you might find something quite different. AST, for example, refers to their letters as being representative of the values they encourage in their members: “Active, Self-Reliant, Trustworthy”. To be active and self-reliant is rather the opposite of “degrading”, don’t you think?
    For the former of those things, I encourage you to step beyond your own comfort zone and GO to a Rush event. Do some singing and hugging, even if it does at first feel ‘creepy’ to you. I am a medical student now and I promise you, singing and hugging will do wonders for your health. Bitterness won’t.

    Posted by Erin Brandenburg | April 16, 2011, 6:48 pm
  4. I am an Alum from Beloit who was also part of the Greek system. How the system is defined here by this writer portrays to me that this person knows little to nothing about the things it takes to run a sorority or a fraternity. A lot of what is learned in the Greek system helps many of its members succeed in networking and working in places of business past college life.

    When in a sorority you learn how to plan events, raise money through philathropic events and fundraisers, manage a budget, meeting national and local deadlines for events and activities that need to done, deal with issues that arise in a group and work them out through various methods and overall develop skills needed to make it when you leave college. Yes you stated that you hear people complain about meetings they have to go to and parties they have to do security at. Reality check, the same thing happens when you get a job. There will be numerous things people complain about, (meetings being one of them), but it is how you learn to deal with people and overcome those challenges that is tought in these groups that will help them when they do get a job.

    It may be frustrating to someone who does not understand the overall picture, but sororities and fraternites build a lifetime bond with its members and provide an experience that in the long will run helps its members succeed at whatever road they take when they leave college.

    Posted by Jessica Van Sickle | April 20, 2011, 6:56 pm
  5. While I can appreciate someone whose opinion is different than mine, this writing does not express yours in a way that I respect. Lots of my friends would never join Greek Life, for a multitude of reasons. I don’t judge them for that. Greek Life happened to work out for me. I was angry over your personal attacks on Greek Life instead of laying out a rational response. There is a difference between expressing ones opinions and shouting out unfounded and offensive claims. But that’s not the point of my response.
    The reasons why I’m writing this post is because I am a friend of Rachel “Smitty” Smith, the AST who wrote the article “Give Greeks a Chance.” She had written that article two weeks before submitting it, asking multiple people, Greek and non-Greek, to look over it. In the end, she was extremely proud of the product, as were the people who helped her edit it. After submitting it, she received an e-mail with an edited version from Ms. Debevec-McKenney saying that there is a word limit on Op-Ed pieces. Smitty was upset by this, debating whether she should let it be published or not, seeing as how she did not think the shortened article represented her voice as well as the full-length piece did. Smitty wound up saying “What the hell, this is important to me,” and let it be published.
    Little did she know that The Round Table editor who had sent her the polite e-mail telling her that she was over the world limit was going to write a response to her article. We were all surprised, not by the article itself or the inflammatory content, but by how much longer the anti-Greek article was. Upon seeing the articles, I immediately began to see issues in how they were presented. I tried to rationalize it and tell myself that they could be the same length, even though Ms. Debevec-McKenney’s article was neatly organized into three columns and Smitty’s was formatted into a long prose piece that did not look appealing on the page. Upon counting the words in the articles, I came upon more discrepancies. Smitty’s piece was cut so that it would be under five hundred words while Ms. Debevec-McKenney’s article, which Smitty did not know was being written, was not only formatted more neatly on the page but was just over eight hundred words. While I am a human and probably miscounted, I have enough competency to count fairly accurately. There is no way that, even though I most likely miscounted, that I could have miscounted by three hundred words. To double-check myself, I pasted the articles into Word. Smitty’s turned out to be five hundred and twenty four while Ms. Debevec-McKenney’s was eight hundred and fifteen. I’m not sure if Editors are given special privileges for publishing their own articles by being editors, and if there is, please let me know, but I would appreciate some explanation as to this despicable occurrence of taking editorial privileges to an inappropriate level.

    Posted by Alice Mitchell | April 22, 2011, 11:10 pm
    • I’m a little late to the game here, but I was op/ed editor when I was a student, and I can assure you that the “word limit” was made up. There has never been a word limit. Each editor is supposed to request a specific number of pages based on how much material they think they will have. When I had more articles than space I would:
      1. Time permitting, contact the authors and have them edit their own pieces shorter, or
      2. Hold an article for a week and publish everything in its entirety while still contacting the author and letting them know why their piece was being held for a week.

      And I certainly wouldn’t shorten an article just because I wanted to reply to it myself.

      To Sasha I do have to say, first of all, you should be ashamed of yourself for writing such a terrible piece and not following standards of journalistic integrity. Second, if you feel like you would be given a bid to a sorority just because you think you would get it to meet a “quota,” I feel so sorry for you. As a proud Theta, we wouldn’t give a bid to anyone who was in so sore a need of an attitude adjustment. As to RDR, have you never had an in-joke with any of your friends?

      Posted by K Newman | June 7, 2011, 7:18 pm
  6. Yikes.

    Posted by Catherine | April 29, 2011, 4:41 pm

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