I Am Done Defending The WSU Greek Community

I Am Done Defending The WSU Greek Community

I cannot be a part of an organization that tolerates everything I stand against.
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Last semester, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at Washington State University shut down Alpha Kappa Lambda. The reason?

Hazing.

It was a long process of the report, a temporary suspension, a two-month long investigation by the IFC, WSU, and AKL nationals, and finally, the chapter's charter was revoked.

When the news broke that IFC had shut the fraternity down, rumors spread across WSU's Greek Row like wildfire. People were angry, confused, and everyone had questions, but nobody was giving any answers.

Granted, some details are legally withheld, but finding facts about the fraternity shutting down was next-to-impossible.

I remember sitting in the dining room of my chapter, reading the school newspaper article about it and hearing my sorority sisters complaining, saying they knew what AKL did to their pledges — that it wasn't "that bad," especially in comparison to other chapters on our campus.

I was stunned. What do you mean not "that bad?" What would these boys have to do to be wrong, in their eyes? Also, if other fraternities were doing worse things, why was nobody doing anything about it?

Eventually, the news died down and everyone forgot about the hazing. I stopped thinking about it. I forgot about it. If the university wasn't talking about it, surely it could have been all that bad. AKL was the example, the warning to the rest of the chapters partaking in potentially dangerous activities.

I was so wrong.

I will spare you the details, but Wilson Criscione at the Inlander sums up what really happened at AKL nicely.

After finding this article, I tried to find a report from Pullman or WSU about AKL. Surely, they had to have released something explaining what had really happened those nights.

Nothing.

So I got to digging. I spoke with friends and was horrified to find that while AKL did do some pretty messed up things, it is true that they don't even come close to some of the fraternities on our campus. You know, the ones who physically beat their new members.

Hey WSU, I have a question for you:

Why are you not stopping this?

The Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life (CFSL) at WSU talks a big game with their "zero tolerance for hazing."

First, Washington has a no-tolerance hazing law that requires an organization to lose recognition from the University if they are found responsible for hazing or the University is in violation of state law. Second, approximately one fraternity or sorority is found responsible for hazing every year at WSU and if organizations who are not currently hazing do not talk about it, it often creeps back in. Third, while hazing may, in the eyes of some, bond or unite a new member class, it often prevents fraternities, sororities, and individual members from reaching their full potential and will divide the chapter. -CFSL

Okay, so why does nothing happen to these other chapters? Are you telling me you really didn't see this coming with AKL? The chapter was unrecognized for five years in 2009 for "illegal drug and alcohol use and disregard of WSU policies by AKL members." The idea was that after five years, the "bad seeds" would have graduated and the chapter could start anew.

That clearly worked really well.

I'm not saying every member of AKL is bad. I'm not saying all fraternities are bad. I am not saying the Greek community is poisonous and deserves to burn to the ground.

I've been in a Greek chapter since my first semester of college. I loved the support, the idea of women helping others to become better women, the empowerment of being part of a powerful group of women I knew would someday change the world.

Maybe I was naive. Maybe I turned a blind eye to the deterioration of the positive and safe environment around me. Maybe I should have seen it coming.

I should have walked away when I heard it was possible women in my chapter refused to take one of their own to the ER, even when she clearly needed help. They didn't want anyone to find out they'd given minors alcohol earlier that day.

I should have spoken up when young women and men were sexually assaulted and nothing happened to their assaulters — when the events were hidden from all of us. The Greek community is "safe," they tell us.

I should have never sat back down when a fraternity tweeted about taking "social boner pills" to conquer all the women on campus via their "Buffet Date Dash." They told us the boys would be disciplined — we all know they were not.

AKL is only one of many glaring problems on my campus, and the thing is, it is never going to change. Not with the way things are now. Not until someone actually does something.

I can't be a part of this anymore. I cannot sit idly by as freshmen are beaten, forced to drink until they cannot remember their mother's names, taped to one another until their bottles of hard liquor are gone, not taken to the hospital until it is too late, not given an ounce of human decency. I cannot stay quiet in the back of the room, listening to my "sisters" defend hazing. I cannot be a part of an organization that tolerates everything I stand against.

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

With all of this, combined with many financial and personal issues accumulated over the last few years, I have chosen to no longer be a member of the Greek community at Washington State.

I'm done remaining neutral.

I'm done being silent.

I'm done defending the Greek community.

I'm done.

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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Greek Life Does More Harm Than Good And It's Time We Canceled It

Greek Life is considered an almost essential part of campus culture, but do we really need Greek life?
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If you are a college student in the United States, you will be affected in some way by Greek life.

It doesn't matter whether you want to join or not. When you go to school, you will hear about it all the time. You will hear about which frats throw the best parties, be asked which sorority you are rushing, and see them hosting charity events. And of course, you will hear the criticisms.

It is impossible these days to not hear about the criticisms surrounding Greek life, the most common one being the high rates of sexual assault. There are also the criticisms that it promotes binge-drinking and partying, it fuels nepotism, the hazing, and there have been numerous racist incidents involving fraternities.

If you ask anybody in Greek life though, they will usually tell you these criticisms are overblown. Yes, occasionally there might be some racist jokes. Yes, sometimes a sexual assault might occur, but they will assure you that these are just a few bad apples. Then they will wax poetic about the various benefits of Greek life, how it fosters lifetime friendships, instills good values such as serving the community, and grooms young adults for professional life.

But there is another question you should ask. Who reaps these benefits?

In a study conducted by Princeton University, researchers found that at their school 77% of fraternity members and 73% of sorority members were white, despite making up 47% of the student body. Additionally, 30% and 19% of fraternity and sorority members were legacy admits, meaning they were children of alumni. Obviously, this is only one school and not necessarily reflect the entire United States. Fraternities and sororities do not publish statistics on their demographics, so it is impossible to tell exactly how pervasive this phenomenon is. Nonetheless, it is worrisome and is surprising, considering that the first fraternities were founded by the people that have always been most privileged in our country: white, upper-class men.

You do not need an extensive, university-sponsored study to understand that it is difficult for students of lower incomes to join Greek life. Not only must you maintain a certain GPA, but you must pay monthly dues in order to stay in. These can range in cost from $250 to $775, and that is not counting “new member fees" or “badge fees" that may be added to the overall cost. Additionally, members must attend regular meetings and functions. If somebody comes from a low-income family and has to work in order to make it through college, it will be significantly harder to join Greek life.

Some organizations offer payment plans, but many potential pledges still say this is not enough. This begs the question: is Greek life really creating new leaders, or is it just fostering a culture of nepotism and providing a pathway for those born into privilege to access high-paying jobs more easily? This is not to say it is impossible for someone of lesser means to join, but it is significantly harder.

In recent years, excessive drinking and hazing-related deaths have also caused Greek life to come under fire. It is not uncommon for college students to abuse alcohol, however, members of Greek life are significantly more likely to abuse alcohol. One study by Harvard found that 4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge-drinkers in comparison to 2 out of 5 overall college students.

Another study at Brown University found that fraternities are often opposed to alcohol education and intervention because they view it as an impediment to their social and sexual goals. Again, this is not to suggest that only Greek life-affiliated students binge-drink. Many college students engage in binge-drinking while they are in school, but they are much more likely to do so if they are involved in Greek life.

These are only some of the problems associated with Greek life. There are many, many more, which I will discuss in next week's article. But for now, I want readers to sit and consider the facts they have been presented with, and ask themselves the kind of mentality that Greek life promotes through its culture of exclusion and binge-drinking.

Cover Image Credit: Stephen F. Austin State University

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I Didn't Join A Panhellenic Sorority

It's okay if you don't join a panhellenic sorority. Sometimes a different organization can turn out to be the best thing.

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Before going to college I was faced with a dilemma, should I rush? I wanted to rush just for the social aspect, I thought it would be my best shot at making a bunch of friends. However, deep down I knew that greek life really wasn't me. I didn't want to do something if I wasn't one hundred percent behind it. There was a part of me that did want to be in a sorority but the other part of me really didn't want to rush. Let me be clear, I don't think Greek life is bad, I just think it wasn't for me. I talked to my brother and sister-in-law about this because they both were in Greek life at the college I attend now; they told me that they didn't think I would like it either.

What my brother and sister-in-law told me that I might like was, a Christian sorority called Sigma Phi Lambda. When they described it to me it seemed like exactly what I was wanting. As soon as I got to college I sought them out; and I went to their recruitment nights. I loved it! It was exactly what I was looking for. I ended up joining. This sorority brought me an amazing group of friends! Most importantly, I have joined the perfect sorority for me! A few things I liked most about Sigma Phi Lambda was the people were so welcoming, it was more low key and laid back, I was still able to have a big and a "Pham", we still did lots of sorority things whilst also having activities that strengthened us on our walks with the Lord, and I gained so many sisters that I now have strong relationships with. Sigma Phi Lambda gave me so many friends and something to be involved in on campus. They gave me somewhere to belong and I am so glad I chose to join them.

Rushing may be exactly what you need when you go to college, but if it's not that is okay. Just join something that makes you happy. Join an organization that helps you grow and surrounds you with people that you want to be around. I promise when you get to college that there is an organization for just about everything, find the one that fits you. No matter what you choose I promise it's good. Just make sure you choose what is right for you.

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