A Rebuttal: Greek Life is a Family, Not a Burden

In light of the recent article, Greek Houses Promote Unhealthy Conformity, released by an ex-Greek affiliated student and Daily Evergreen columnist, I’m writing to set the record straight. The facts in this article are unfair and frankly, blatantly untrue. The author is a former member of one of the organizations on campus and was speaking from her own personal experience at that chapter, and pinning negative energy on WSU Greek culture, and Greek life as a whole. Greek life suffers from negative attention regularly and is no stranger to those who attempt to shut it down due to accusations and focus on the wrong issues within the community.

Right off the bat with the introduction paragraph, the columnist referred to Greek life as a “blight” on college student’s health/safety, humanity, and critical thinking skills which is an interesting term to use. The use of the word ‘blight’ is a term commonly used to describe an ugly, run-down or neglected urban area, however, literally, that wouldn’t make sense when considering the impact that Greek chapters have on their members. The Greek system truly isn’t an ugly run-down urban area, it’s an organization, a community. Those who chose to be a part of these organizations know exactly what they’re signing up for. And, if they don’t, they learn pretty early on. On that note, Greek life often does improve the college experience for many who take part in it. Greek houses do amazing things for the community, and their own individual philanthropies, which plays an important role in the “American college experience,” and staying mentally healthy. Its clinically proven that doing community service improves mental health and self-worth, which is crucial when dealing with the stress that college puts on students. Just this week a 20-year-old woman died of a random heart attack due to stress, and suicide is the leading cause of death for the 18-25 demographic which conveniently lines up with the ages of college students.

The quote used by the columnist from a psychology professor on campus stated, “…certain unspoken rules might change your behavior.” It is important to know that these “unspoken rules” are in fact forbidden in IFC and Panhellenic bylaws and when these unspoken rules are seen in action, or reported, they are dealt with in an aggressive and appropriate manner. A sorority within the community was shut down for 5 years because of activities they forced their freshmen pledges to take part in. Multiple fraternities on Greek row have been both suspended and/or shut down and replaced on WSU’s Greek row due to these so called “unspoken rules,” which is commonly known as hazing. WSU is a no-tolerance campus for hazing and houses tip toe around what is and isn’t considered hazing with the threat of getting their chapter revoked. The might in that statement is referring to the choice that Greek members have. It is not a requirement nor is it at all expected to act outside the rules given by each individual chapter and their organization overseeing them such as IFC or Panhellenic.

Night life on Greek row does not glorify drugs and alcohol. Every college has a party scene that select students take part in regardless of having a Greek life or not. I transferred from Western Washington University when I was going into my sophomore year of college and Western has a much higher rate of drug use than WSU does, believe it or not. The party scene is much calmer but that is because of the location of the school.  Bellingham versus Pullman is the only major difference in this scenario. The Pullman community, outside WSU, is small, therefore, the attention put on the party culture that EVERY college has is much higher considering the majority of Pullman's population is college students. The news in Seattle has bigger issues than exploiting the Greek culture at University of Washington, can’t say the same for Pullman, obviously, here I am defending it. It does not take being Greek to binge drink and use drugs. It is also not a requirement as a Greek to take part in any parties and or attend parties under the influence. Being 21-years-old, I have plenty of access to alcohol, but I personally choose not to partake 90% of the time and I’m a very active member of the Greek system. I choose to go to parties every weekend to hang out with my friends and have a good time, even sober.  The house nicknamed “Cocaine Castle,” are actually a house full of incredibly hard working and ambitious fraternity men, who of the multiple that I am friends with do not partake in the use or dealing of cocaine. That is an outdated and unfair nickname for a respectable house.

It’s a shame that the quote, “I am secretly wondering why women even go to college with the chances of sexual assault being so high,” was used.  Coming from a former sorority member, this quote is disgusting. Sororities were formed for women to have a safe place to study and grow in a very toxic university atmosphere since the 1800’s is when most of the houses were founded, it was still taboo that women were to be just as educated as men. Women now make up the larger percentage of universities and are making leaps and bounds in equal rights on all platforms. Calling “getting a drunk pep talk in a stranger’s bathroom while shitfaced” a rite of passage for women who joined an organization created to protect women and their rights to education is inappropriate. Saying that women should be scared to come to college because of rape culture just normalizes it, and doesn’t put a negative light on Greek life, considering rape culture isn’t only limited to Greek communities, it gives the wrong attention to rape culture. Instead of fighting that supposed ‘norm’ it’s used as ammo against a community that actively fights it and only makes the writer look bad.

Recruitment. A week that all sorority women prepare for over months and months of practices and incoming freshmen or transfer students or even current WSU students look forward to all summer. This week of value-based recruiting has its own method to the madness and works its best to place women into the best house for their ambitions, personality, interests, etc. It truly works. Sororities choose women who they spent a week getting to know, and who they think would fit within the core values of their organization, and that is how it should be. More hardcore Greek communities such as those in the south don’t necessarily follow the same path that WSU does, and I believe we are rather lucky to have the opportunity. This system places over a thousand young women into their rightful sisterhood and for many of my sisters, and many of my friends in other houses, it has given them the support system they truly needed to get through their four years of college. It’s a myth that you must be friends with all 160+ sisters in your sorority. It is not a social categorization, its’ an opportunity to really find that “home away from home.” I am a Junior in college who plans to move across the country post-graduation, I still call my mom every day, sometimes multiple times and had I not had my sisters the past year and a half, I could say without a doubt I would no longer be in school. As cliché as it may sound, I am 100% where I belong and am proud to be able to say that I am a member of my sorority at Washington State University. The fees “slapped” on to everything from social events to not showing up, or incomplete community service hours, are an incentive to get members into gear and to finish their duties to the sorority. As for social, those are entirely optional in most cases for chapters, and now with the new system, you are well aware of the expenses even BEFORE you choose to rush.

Being reminded that you are always wearing your letters is not an active loss of identity whatsoever. You represent your chapter to the rest of campus when you go to class or work. Same thing goes for when you begin working for a company, you are always representing that company. Posting inappropriate or illegal things on social media, talking shit about sisters or other chapters in public, or just blatantly being a bad representation of your sisterhood/brotherhood reflects on you as an individual. The reason these rules are in place are to protect your future and make it, so you don’t ruin your shot at that future corporate job, or any job for that matter. What you do reflects on your chapter and will eventually reflect on you. You are one of 160+ that builds your chapter to be what it is. That’s not a loss of identity, that’s finding people similar to you, who you do college with, and it doesn’t get more exciting than that. On top of that, being Greek isn’t a summer camp. Girls don’t “sneak” out to visit boys, we are adults. We can come and go as we please and for the most part, sorority girls are usually more concerned about food than boys in my experience. 

Overall, it’s hurtful to those who cherish Greek life, and have truly flourished in its care, to have to read such a column that questions their everyday life. For 2019 freshmen, this will surly deter them from wanting to become a part of the WSU Greek Community. My two cents, Greek life was created to be a prestigious community that prides itself in building relationships within the community, scholarship, and community service. The brotherhood and sisterhood you will find among those streets is unmatched by any club on WSU’s campus. Being Greek isn’t an extracurricular activity, it’s a family.

To see what I’m responding to, here’s the article: https://dailyevergreen.com/40299/opinion/greek-houses-promote-unhealthy-...