By the time this edition is printed, IFC and PanHel’s annual “Greek Week” will be closing after a very successful year, in part to the exec board members that reside under myself and the PanHel President. But this success is juxtaposed by a time when Fraternity life is more threatened than ever.
Fraternity chapters across the country are taking more criticism than ever before for the misconduct of a few bad chapters. Those chapters themselves often gain infamy from a few outlying members.
Within the Beta Theta Pi national organization alone, chapters at the University of Puget Sound, UC Berkley and Miami University have been shut down in recent years.
Across the country, other chapters are being shut down for safety code violations, drug and alcohol consumption, and even storing caches of weapons, all of which we can aptly dub—and with no offense intended toward people actually from Greece—institutional Greek-ism.
Fraternities are frequent targets for anti-rape culture advocacy groups, which are extremely threatening to Greek life. Fraternities do indeed propagate a large amount of what we would call “rape culture,” just one of many problems that fall under institutional Greek-ism, but it’s not every fraternity.
Now, more than ever, it is imperative that fraternities reconsider their conduct, especially toward women, who are far more often the targets of sexual assault than men. Fraternities that consist wholly of good men who are trying to reinvent the fraternity to be more sensitive to institutional Greek-ism still are perceived as a threatening presence, one that arises as a result of the actions of a few despicable individuals.
There are people on this campus—both within the Greek System and without—that are working to ensure that fraternity houses are a safer place to be. Organizations like SHARB and DFC have reached out to Greek life to put in collaborative efforts to eradicate the institutional Greek-ism across this country.
However, for all we put into protecting our reputation, and more importantly our peers, there are some people who hide behind a Facebook status, newspaper print or poorly written, one-sided Grist and Upworthy articles on our news feeds and call it “social justice.” Though it may be part of the larger effort of raising awareness, simply complaining about institutional Greek-ism does little to solve it.
Make no mistake: Facts and opinions rest upon writers of The Lawrentian. However, The Lawrentian has in this trimester alone published multiple articles that have spoken out against the conduct of Fraternities. When defending Greek life from such attacks, journalists walk a very fine line.
Those anecdotes and opinions are legitimate expressions of a problem they’ve experienced, and casting aside their claims is dismissing one of the most fundamentally reprehensible human acts.
Some of these articles however, have pointed out the existence of institutional Greek-ism without a clear perpetrator and more importantly without a clear solution. Who is going to stop it, the people posting Grist articles and criticizing party themes behind the backs of social chairs, or Greeks who are ultimately responsible for change?
The people trying hardest to fix institutional Greek-ism are Greeks and the other student organizations we collaborate with to be smarter and safer organizations. Institutional Greek-ism is an array of smaller problems, including our conduct towards women, our drug and alcohol habits, and the safety of the environments we provide for our guests.
These problems are being solved because we the Greeks change our behaviors and policies, not because of what somebody retweeted on the internet or nagged about in a university newspaper. We do so because we are concerned about the survival of our chapters, the privilege of having a house to call our own, and most importantly, the safety of the Lawrence community.