By Beth Ames
Like many who read last week’s issue of The Round Table, I was generally in agreement with Sasha Debevec-McKenney’s opinions of Greek life on campus but strongly opposed to the way they were argued—and the fact that they were argued in a very public way. It seems as if there has been quite a bit of unrest at Beloit lately (spring semester blues kicking in?) and recently I have found myself astonished at the polarizing, and occasionally offensive, beliefs of those around me. I considered writing a response to the article, but, overcome by the usual workload, it slipped my mind.
The idea was reawakened when I was leaving DK’s today and I dropped my fries. Luckily, there were only a few people around to witness my embarrassment. To my surprise, a member of a fraternity—and a stranger—bent down to help clean them up. After I thanked him and turned to leave, he stopped me and told me his friend was in line buying food and could get me some fries if I wanted (of course I wanted!).
Over lunch, I pondered this completely unwarranted gesture of kindness and began dissecting my own stereotypes of Greek organizations. In the past week alone I’ve been surprised more than once: the men of this same fraternity, upon finding my friend and me in their house collecting their trash for the Face Your Waste campaign, helped us haul the bags to Chapin Quad.
Now, I don’t intend to argue that the philanthropic efforts of these communities are suddenly visibly manifesting themselves on campus, and that they are making up for—what is it exactly that we (non-Greeks) fault them for? Singing in public? Walking down College Street like a “douche-army”? I’m just saying that maybe we should give them a little more credit than we have been. Or, at the very least, leave them alone.
Because when it comes down to it, the decision to join a Greek organization is a personal choice. As long as someone’s proselytizing does not bother me, I take no issue with the community he or she chooses to be affiliated with. After all, who am I to question someone else’s beliefs, or their desire to belong to something they feel is greater than them? We often tout our campus as “progressive” and “forward-thinking.” In the end, is it more forward-thinking to eradicate an “outdated college tradition,” or to respect our differences?
I know I would never join a sorority, but I know plenty of wonderful women who belong to one. But we all have our own Greek organizations, whether we acknowledge it or not. The sad truth is that this campus would still be divided even if fraternities and sororities didn’t exist; we just wouldn’t have any secret rituals. Or maybe our secret rituals just aren’t as apparent. The bottom line is, we can coexist (even peacefully) as a campus, and learn from each other—if we put in the effort. Personally, I intend to pay it forward as soon as the opportunity presents itself.