North Texas Daily

Column: Greek anger misplaced on media instead of bad members

Column: Greek anger misplaced on media instead of bad members

March 16
23:09 2015

Caitlyn Jones / Editor-in-Chief

Alright, everyone. Let’s be upfront. I’m a proud member of Greek Life.10548264_10202322127374721_4518445862162844024_o

You may think, “If you’re proud of being a member of Greek Life, then why are you criticizing it in your publication?”

First, we need to be clear about what criticism is. The opinion article that ran in the North Texas Daily had a headline that read, “Greek Life Potentially Perpetuates Racist Mindset.” The operative word that most people gloss over is “potentially.”

Let’s look back at the history of these organizations. The first fraternity is often recognized as Phi Beta Kappa, which began in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. By the early 1800’s, these organizations began spreading through higher education institutions in the South. Guess what else was in the South in the early 1800’s? This issue called slavery. Because the slave system was so ingrained in the culture of the region, it makes sense that minorities were not allowed in these secret organizations or even the colleges they resided in. After all, knowledge is power and you can’t have the enslaved population gaining either of those.

Soon, minorities comprised of women, African Americans and Hispanics formed their own organizations and thus, the four council system was forged. The Interfraternity Council is governed by traditional fraternities comprised mostly of white men. The Panhellenic Council is made up of sororities catering to mostly white women. The National Pan-Hellenic Council houses fraternities and sororities made up of mostly black members and the Multicultural Greek Council represents Latino and other multicultural members.

By this very division, a whole system is built based on racial ideals. While each group has a heritage they want to keep alive, the foundation, even here at UNT, lends itself to the very thing Greek Life claims not to perpetuate: race. If one group pushes a racist mindset with chants and silly rules, then the effect trickles down to pledges and circulates when new classes come in. We’ve seen this at work multiple times, not only with Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Oklahoma but with racially-themed “border parties” at the University of Texas and ignorant emails filled with racial slurs at the University of Maryland.

The flip side of the argument must be examined as well. The simple fact is not many minorities want to join Panhellenic sororities or IFC fraternities. Each group within those councils on campus has black, Asian, Hispanic and other multicultural members. However, these numbers aren’t representative of campus populations but then again, why would they be? Diversity is hard to achieve when most of the people who come to your recruitment events are white. It’s clear that diversity will only really be achieved by cross-council unity instead of undoing a nearly 200-year old system.

I’m a member of Greek Life. I’m a member of the group that raises millions of dollars for charities each year. I’m a member of the group that produces strong campus leaders. I’m even a member of the group who blows off steam with friends during spring break by heading to the nearest beach.

But every member knows when you sign your bid, you represent something larger than yourself.

Is it disappointing that the majority of the attention Greek Life receives is focused on the negative? Absolutely. But you know what’s even more disappointing? The fact that people who perpetuate these negative actions are even allowed into Greek Life to meet some ridiculous campus total.

UNT wants Greek Life to grow from 7 percent of the campus population to 10 percent. While this does expand the positive reach of Greek Life, it also opens up the organization to more rogue members, you know, the ones who are more interested in being in a “frat” instead of a brotherhood. We all know those members who pledge one fraternity or sorority then jump ship to another if it gets shut down. These people are not our brothers or sisters. They are the ones giving our organization a bad name in order to be part of a Sperry-wearing, T-shirt loving, beer bonging lifestyle.

The worth of a member should not be based on whether or not they can pay dues, how well they can choreograph the Homecoming dance, or even race if that’s what your organization is secretly doing. That worth should come from scholarship, leadership, service, and brotherhood (loyalty as others know it). These four pillars are what hold up Greek Life, and it is moronic members that  just want to “frat” or “srat” who are breaking them down.

Greeks, you should be angry but you are putting your anger in the wrong place. You should be mad at these organizations who go against the very principles we stand for instead of “the media” (which, by the way could be anything from CNN to Total Frat Move) for calling these individuals out. These racist people deserve to be publicly humiliated and we, as Greeks, should be leading the charge by looking inward to our own organizations to make sure this isn’t happening in our own backyard. By complaining that the media lump Greek Life together, that very argument folds on itself by lumping together the media.

If you disagree, that’s ok. You can clearly and respectfully articulate your argument in a Letter to the Editor, which we at the North Texas Daily will gladly publish. Open up, Greek Life. No one is asking you to reveal your rituals. An opportunity for an educated dialogue is here. The door is open and the choice is yours.

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