FIJI Is Not The Only One To Blame For Cultural Appropriation

FIJI Is Not The Only Chapter To Blame For Cultural Appropriation In The WSU Greek Community

One chapter shouldn't take the fall for the entire residential Greek community's complacency.

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Washington State University is in the headlines once again, and, in true WSU Coug fashion, it is not for great reasons.

Last Monday, a video posted to Twitter spread like wildfire. The original video was taken down, but the damage had already been done.

#FIJIISLANDER2018 was the hashtag. The video? The men of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) dancing in grass skirts, serenading women in different WSU Panhellenic sororities. Immediately, Twitter users took sides, some claiming the video was nothing more than a group of guys having some fun, but the majority of students called the fraternity's actions out for what they were: cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is where people from a group that oppressed or oppresses another group mimics or represents cultural artifacts or manners of the oppressed group in a way that expresses or reinforces psychological elements of the racist ideology inherent in the colonialist project responsible for the oppression (x).

In simpler words, cultural appropriation is mimicking and mocking other cultures.

The men of FIJI were doing exactly this — mocking and mimicking Pacific Islander community.

For WSU, a university that follows mottos like "Cougs help Cougs" and claims a key component is "building global understanding," this blatant ignorance and disrespect is not exactly the image that should be associated with the Greek community, which makes up 1/4 of the WSU student body.

The Greek community was quick to respond to this offense, issuing statements and promises to do better, to be better. The WSU Interfraternity Council released their statement, which partially read:

Their actions represent clear examples of cultural appropriation which does not align with the values of the Interfraternity Community, or Washington State University (WSU). The Interfraternity Council condemns these and all acts of cultural appropriation regardless of the intention behind them.

Which is great and all. I love to hear IFC calling FIJI out and condemning this kind of behavior. The men of FIJI do need to be educated on their cultural incompetency, and they all should apologize to the communities on campus that were harmed because of this video.

However, FIJI is not the only chapter to blame.

The entire WSU Greek Community is to blame as well.

The other IFC chapters who have performed similar serenades are to blame.

The Panhellenic chapters who have laughed and encouraged the behavior are to blame.

The Greek students who mock and disregard the UGC and NPHC communities are to blame.

The Greek students who refuse to acknowledge their privilege in being white, straight, able-bodied, male, Christian — they are to blame.

I was in a Greek chapter for almost three years. I was to blame. I laughed when the boys came and did ridiculous dances and sang to us. I did not call anyone out for wearing grass skirts. I did not find the harm in mimicking other cultures. I saw the humor, I enjoyed it, I moved on. I realize my wrongs, and I am glad I am in a place where I can now see all the damage my own complacency wrought.

Not every chapter is bad, and not every Greek member is in it for popularity or the party scene. I know amazing men and women in chapters who complete hours and hours of community service, who donate time and money to wonderful philanthropies, who are leaders in the community, who are going to go on to do amazing, beautiful, life-changing things.

But I also know the culture and the community of the WSU Greek system is incredibly toxic. It is blind. The system rewards ignorance with "top" status, with more funds, with a reputation on and off campus. The nightlife rewards it with exclusive parties and special benefits. The leadership refuses to report hazing, sexual assault, students in crisis. It's a mind game, one that ends with kids dropping out of college and dying.

This isn't just the WSU Greek community, it is all the chapters across the U.S. That's a whole other problem in itself.

Maybe this incident with FIJI is the wake-up call the WSU Greek community needs to change. I can think positively and hope this is the final straw. But I am also not naive enough to think this is where the conversation ends and that all will get better from here.

The WSU Greek community does not get to point the finger at FIJI, make an example of them, and carry on with normal operations as if nothing happened. That's what they did with DU. It's what they did with AKL. It's what they do with every single chapter who has the "misfortune" of taking the fall for everyone else's mistakes.

Nothing has changed. Who's next?

You can do better, Cougs.

Image Credit: Instagram // @fijiwsu

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When you enter into Greek life, it's like having to learn a whole new language, but it's a language that everyone comes to love. So here's the Greek alphabet, from Alpha Chi to Zeta.

A is for Alum

The members of our chapter who have graduated. These members are a range of ages and can participate in all kinds of alumna events.

B is for Bid Day

The best day of the year when our chapters get to accept a new pledge class of members.

C is for Chapter

Our weekly meetings where we learn about sisterhood and philanthropy events, date parties, etc., as well as take care of any sort of chapter business.

D is for Date Parties

Some of the best nights of the year are getting dressed up with your friends and your dates and attending date parties.

E is for Executive Board

The people that make the chapter run smoothly. The chapter wouldn't function without your president, VP, finance, standards, etc.

F is for Fried Friday

The best day of the week at the house. When the chefs cook up chicken, mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, french fries, corn dogs, fried mac n cheese, fried corn, fried green tomatoes and whatever else your heart desires.

G is for Greek Week

One of the most competitive and most fun weeks of the year. Spent playing dodgeball, whiffle ball, doing dance-offs, and more!

H is for Hand Sign

No matter what sign it is, we love to throw what we know!

I is for Initiation

The day that we get to cross from new member to active member of our chapter.

J is for Just Here So I Don't Get Fined

As much as we love to hang out with our sisters, sometimes life gets in the way and we wish we had more free time. Sometimes we're only attending an event so that we don't get fined.

K is for Kick-Off

Of course, all college students love football but game day is something special when you're Greek. From getting ready with your sisters to eating at the house to tailgating with the fraternities, it's all a part of the game day experience when you're Greek.

L is for Letters

Our identity within the Greek community.

M is for Mom

Our house mom can never take the place of our real mom but she is great for lending an ear and helping solve any issues that come up within the sorority.

N is for Norts

Part of the "sorority girl uniform." We can't get enough of our Nike shorts

O is for Organized

With constantly running between classes, chapter meetings, and other events, you become extremely organized when you join a Greek organization.

P is for Philanthropy

One of the biggest reasons many people choose to go Greek. We love to spend our time, money and energy towards a cause that's close to our heart such as Ronald McDonald House, Make a Wish Foundation and CASA.

Q is for Queso

Okay, maybe a bit of a stretch but it's true! Ordering Fuzzy's to the sorority house or going out to eat at Moe's or Chuy's are not uncommon activities. We love chips and queso!

R is for Recruitment

The craziest week of the year where the chapter decides which PNM's would be the best fit for the chapter and new members run home to your chapter at the end of the week!

S is for Sisterhood

What a sorority is really all about. The friends you make in your sorority are some of the most interesting and genuine girls you'll meet!

T is for T-Shirt Tuesday

The one weeknight that tons of people go out. Whether you're at Harry's bar or Rounders, T-shirt Tuesday is sure to be a blast.

U is for Unique Experience

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V is for Vineyard Vines

One of many popular brands among sorority women and fraternity men alike.

W is for Wine Wednesday

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X is for XL T-Shirts

Another part of the "sorority girl uniform". The bigger the T-shirt, the comfier and more confident you'll be. It's science.

Y is for Youth

Many philanthropies work with children, which is great because we love to spend time with the youth in and around Tuscaloosa!

Z is for Zero Sleep

When you're taking 14-18 credits, working, in a Greek organization and you're involved with several other organizations it's easy to see why we never get our full 8 hours of sleep. We're always going and we're fueled by coffee and a passion for whatever it is we're doing on and around campus.

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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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