Let me first start by saying this is not a war on greek life. I have chosen to not be associated with social greek life but I have a ton of friends who are. I respect their choices, customs, and most of the work they do. As a person on the outside of this situation, I am not completely informed on every decision made or why they are made. This is simply my take on what is going on in today’s universities and how it relates to society.
Greek life is described by people within it as “the best decision [they have] ever made.” It is also described as “where they met their best friends.” However, many other greeks would describe their sororities or fraternities less ecstatically as they understand that nothing is perfect. All in all, most greek organizations raise hundreds, often thousands of dollars for their philanthropies, and supply their members with social experiences. There are many positives to greek life, and please remember this as you read the rest of the post. Lately in the media, there has been special attention paid to universities policy and court cases. At certain schools, JMU being one of them, there have been reports of undocumented and poorly handled sexual assaults, unprecedented racism, and violence. Most of these cases have the perpetrator being involved in greek life. Is this a coincidence? Or is it what we on the outside see it as: lack of compassion and empathy for people taught through values associated with members in greek life. Either way, this needs to be addressed. Lets first talk sexual assault. According to The Guardian and well-known writer Jessica Valenti “…numerous studies have found that men who join fraternities are three times more likely to rape.” In addition to this, over 85 colleges or universities in the US (including JMU) are under Title IX investigations. Over 86% of these cases have to do with a member of a fraternity or a sorority as the perpetrator, the victim, or more often both. UVA-our neighbor college-is under attack for the mistreatment of Title IX in a sexual case that was broadcasted through the media, and received widespread attention. This affects us all. Especially because JMU is under investigation because of a sexual assault case that dealt with members of greek life.
Taking a step back from sexual assault, lets talk about racism. A story just broke out a few weeks ago about a University of Oklahoma student, and member of the fraternity singing a racist song that alluded to lynching on the bus going to a fraternity event. The young man apparently learned the horrible song on a sponsored cruise by the fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. This prompts the question, how many other universities have members singing these horrible songs? Is it just Oklahoma University’s chapter, or were they just the only ones to get caught?
Lets take it back to Harrisonburg and discuss violence. Last weekend, a friend of mine, Anne*, was driving past a fraternity party and saw a young man getting beaten up by other men out in the open. When Anne stopped the car and tried to intervene, she as well as her two other friends were harassed and threatened. One partier took a swing at her friend and she was struck in the ear, leaving her with a concussion. A police report was filed but nothing can be done because no one knows which person actually committed the assault.
Could all of these events be a coincidence? Facts mights just show otherwise. Members of greek life have been the root of almost every major incident on college campuses in the last few years. If we don’t want this to continue, we need to do something. It was also recently brought to my attention by someone affiliated with greek life that often times the people who join greek organizations are often heavy drinkers and partiers, and the heavy drinking and partying is what leads to this behavior. The jury is still out on that one, but it is something to consider. At this point, I expect some readers to be outraged. I expect that some people will reply with something along the lines of “a few bad people do not make all greek life bad.” In which, I invite you to look back at the title of this piece: Not all Greeks but Often Greeks. In addition to this, I invite people to make comments and share this. I want to know other opinions because from my GDI perspective, this is what I see. So please, comment and educate me as well as anyone reading this.
*Names were changed in this story to protect their identities