Editor’s Corner: Greek organizations need to examine values

By Nick Garafola and Natalie Olivo
Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and Forum Editor Emeritus

Campus culture has once again become intolerable overnight. For the quiet nonGreek majority, Bid Day emerges from recruitment and rears its obnoxious head through AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” and the loud beeping of SUVs. The Denisonian, in spite of its own Greek affiliations through staff members, has vocalized concerns regarding the Greek traditions in the recent past. The positive tenets of Greek culture stand at a dissonance with the reality of what it means to be affiliated. We are not necessarily challenging the existence of Greek organizations, or even the Wingless Angels. These groups do have their place in campus culture. The Wingless Angels, despite their tendencies to resort to the behavior of entitled children (i.e. the graffitied penises of 2011), are still capable of clever pranks. (Although, WA Band, in order to report your perspective, we’ll need detailed accounts from your members.)

However, we question the unconscious motives students have for joining fraternities or sororities. Part of human nature is the desire to belong to a group, but every individual should consider all of the costs and benefits that accompany Greek membership. Greek organizations appeal to many among us. They offer intimate companionship and the opportunity for students to align with something bigger than themselves. Think of the fan who sits in the bleachers at a high school football game. He’ll never wear a jersey, but he still wants to feel connected to his team. Besides offering metaphorical lettermen jackets, fraternities and sororities also contribute to the community through countless philanthropic events. However, Denison students who are committed to philanthropy can channel their efforts through Denison’s numerous service learning opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to pursue group affiliations along with community service, but we have to consider the intentions.


[pullquote]We simply ask all students, Greek and non-Greek, to question the purpose of four years at Denison. We also know that students who lead in the classroom and on the field can encourage a socially sustainable party culture, should they choose to do so.[/pullquote]

The same organizations that promote service and brotherhood enable the type of social culture that flourishes and dies based on the Greek community’s schedule. The ills associated with Greek domination of Denison’s social scene are too numerous to list, but obvious is the failure of Greek organizations to set a standard for party culture. If our brothers and sisters are truly committed to service, why has Denison resorted to a party registration policy?

Last semester, we proved to a forgiving administration and conservative community that we are incapable of the basic intervention needed to prevent alcohol poisoning. Students proved that “bro-ing out” does not extend beyond hedonistic impulses. We are not proud to associate ourselves with a complete disregard for self-governance, maturity and common sense. We are not blaming fraternities and sororities for failing to parent everybody who passes through their parties, but their lack of leadership has contributed to reduced options for all students.

Affiliation is still somehow a measure of privilege and status. Those who can pay their way into the organization network with their “brothers” and “sisters” based on common interests but certainly not professional qualifications or character. Philanthropy, which pales in comparison to partying, pads resumes for the men and women who have paid to maintain a status that is out of reach for others. Students benefit in the job market based on Greek connections and affiliations, sometimes independently of their talents. The term “legacy student” assumes a new meaning when we consider the impact of Greek status beyond Granville’s borders. A retrospective look at recent events suggests that Denison’s organizations need to realign themselves with their stated missions, focus on character and abandon the shallow traditions that compromise the integrity of Greek life at Denison.

Of course, those who are not affiliated do not have to resign to a life on the sidelines. Denison offers plenty of community service and networking opportunities that don’t require Greek letters. We do not expect a utopian situation where everyone parties and plays together. We simply ask all students, Greek and non-Greek, to question the purpose of four years at Denison. We also know that students who lead in the classroom and on the field can encourage a socially sustainable party culture, should they choose to do so.

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