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.