By Adam Eckert
First off, I fully understand that “Greek Tripe” was an op-ed and that it does not represent the opinions of The Round Table or by any means those of the Beloit community at large. However, as a recent Beloit graduate and four-year member of one of Beloit’s Greek organizations, I feel that such a passionate attack on Beloit’s fraternities and sororities warrants an equally passionate defense of said organizations.
Despite the fact that “Greek Tripe” is an op-ed, many of the assertions in the article are patently inaccurate, most especially that of pledge hazing. Although every Greek organization has its own ritual and initiation ceremony, they are performed with the assumption that a pledge may opt out at any time if he or she is in any way uncomfortable with what is taking place. Whether or not sarcasm or irony was intended, the Greek organizations on Beloit’s campus take accusations of hazing seriously, as it is a violation of college policy and of most national Greek organizations. The Beloit chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was nearly kicked off campus in 2005 on the basis of a mere accusation of pledge hazing, later proven to be a lie. Though every organization is different, we all know that the kind of hazing fraternities and sororities have become infamous for benefits no one.
Although some of Beloit’s fraternities and sororities have been around since the 1800s, calling us “outdated” is both inaccurate and disingenuous. Without the huge amount of effort put in by Beloit’s Greek organizations, 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, as well as the numerous Greek-sponsored Spring Day events, to see this function at work. 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 the Greek organizations 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 you, the organizations in question, and the college that supports them as a whole. I cannot fathom the motive behind criticizing the charity work done by Beloit’s Greek organizations, but if the youth organizations we work with aren’t so creeped out that they won’t accept our help and support, then we must be doing something right.
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 write of the folly of throwing parties instead of writing symposia without bothering to look up the large number of Greek members who give symposia and other such talks on a range of subjects every semester. And most importantly, you write of the idea of straying outside one’s comfort zone, but you vehemently attack 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.
For me, pledging Phi Psi was the furthest I had ever strayed outside my personal comfort zone. I had grown up in a college town where fraternity and sorority members were seen as the boorish, hard-drinking morons depicted in movies such as “Animal House.” I didn’t fully know what I was getting into or where it would lead, but I trusted that with the friends with whom I was pledging, the friends I had already made within the organization, and the friends I knew I would make in the future, I would have a hard time going wrong. The fact that my fraternity involvement was in some way the driving force behind nearly every positive experience I had at Beloit and the source of more great friendships than I can count has vindicated that decision in my eyes.
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 The Round Table has always welcomed the full spectrum of opinions and material, pieces like this 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 … 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.
Thank you for considering the less-than-humble, but impassioned, opinion of a proudly Greek Beloit alum.