So, while I sat wracking my brain trying to come up with a first blog post. No idea in my head seemed like it could accurately open this blog with my point of view.
Well, along came this article written on our University’s Odyssey page. This article goes on to criticize the University of Louisville’s Greek life in its entirety, citing, “I believe the University of Louisville and most other universities and colleges are breeding grounds for some of the most intense race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination. It’s not necessarily in the classroom, in the quad, or at Red Barn events. It’s in Greek life”. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I have a few points that I have to bring up and argue.
I’ll begin with this- I am a Greek woman at the University. I went through Panhellenic formal recruitment my freshman year. I AM NOT the “typical” sorority girl. I’m short and squatty, have tattoos, piercings, and my idea of a perfect Friday night is watching Netflix with friends and enjoy everyone’s one true love- pizza. I NEVER thought I was sorority material, but I found my home none the less. If you know me at all, I will outright say that going Greek was the best decision of my life. My sorority was originally started when one of our founders was not allowed in another student organization because of her religion. I’ve found nothing but support for my sisters’ various differences and identities.
So, my issues with this article are as follows…
First, the article points out how UofL Greek life is split into three main “mega associations” that are “majority white” or “majority black”. These are Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, and National Pan-Hellenic council. I’m not even going into detail on those, because there is a bigger issue here…
The author does not understand that Greek life is filled with different races. It is not a black vs. white issue. Our sorority, like most chapters on campus, has people from different countries and they are proud of this. Narrowly defining our organizations in black and white is perpetuating the stereotype that it is all we are. You cannot tell someone’s race, or ethnicity, just by looking at them. Our chapter, as well as every chapter on our campus has leaders, who do not fit any molds. We do not choose our members on the grounds of race. We have no quota to fill. We choose our women (and our women choose us) based on the quality of character- who you are as a person and not your skin color.
Secondly, we as organizations do not care about the sexual orientation of our members. I know a handful of amazing Greek men and women who are out and proud, and have made major contributions to their chapter. Who you date is not any reason why a Greek organization would choose you to share their letters. Why would an organization built on service to others and bettering yourself care who you date? Great leaders are great because of their leadership and personality, and Greek life here at U of L does not stifle that.
Last, Greek life on U of L’s campus does take up a small margin of campus, but that margin is an extraordinary one. Greeks as a whole have a better graduation rate than non Greeks. Greeks are some of the top fundraisers for their philanthropies. My chapter rose over $5,000 for our local philanthropy, which we adopted after the passing of a sister. We uphold the values of the men and women that came before us, in order to better ourselves and the world around us. Holding ourselves to higher standards means being the best YOU, not being something you’re not.
I admit, Greek life is not perfect, but if you think the problem may just be on our campus, you are naïve and under informed. Discrimination is bred everywhere- and if anything Greek life helps you learn to interact with those different than yourself. Nationally, there are certain stigmas associated with Greek life, and we are working fiercely as a community to change them.
Honors student, immigrants, Fulbright scholars, pre-med, first-generation, gay, straight, Asian-American, graduate students…
We all are vastly different than each other to want to be leaders and have our voices heard.
After all, isn’t an article critisizing Greek life on its diversity, discriminating against those in Greek life? I see the author of the original article making no moves to change any of these problems himself. If he wanted to, he would pledge a fraternity and make his voice heard to change that organization to his liking. When I see something I want to be changed, I try my damndest to make it happen, so do any Greek man or women I know. If they see issue in the way an organization is governed, either they wouldn’t join or they would change it. We are a passionate group of individuals who are joined together by common bonds. Not cookie cutters following society unwillingly. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. But we only encourage the best from each other, providing a safe environment to be yourself and to make a difference in our community.
Isn’t that is what we are all trying to do as humans- become the change we want to see in the world?