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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Greek life, take it or leave it

Published: November 11, 2011
Section: Opinions

So rather than discuss a topic that is broad and worldwide, or nuclear within the community here, I want to talk about something that is relevant for the Brandeis community as a whole: Greek life. So first things first: why Greek life? Well, in all honesty, the Justice posted an article on the same subject and it piqued my interest. No, I didn’t actually read the article, so if it hits some of the same points, then it is merely a coincidence.

When Greek life is attempting to make positive changes to the world around us, why is there so much resistance to the idea that Greek life be recognized on campus? My first guess, and probably a somewhat true one, is the reputation that Greek life can create for a university. When you think about Greek life, what kind of picture pops into your head? A party school where fraternities and sororities abound on Greek Row, throwing crazy “ragers” (as the kids these days call them) and essentially only causing mischief for the other people at the school that just want to learn and be a part of the intellectual community.

As far as parents of prospective students are concerned, this probably would not help the nearly spotless image of Brandeis (don’t forget, we did have political takeover of Ford Hall) and would potentially limit the people who end up deciding on the ’Deis because of the negativity this image creates. I think it is safe to say that this negative image is false at Brandeis. Yes, there are parties held off campus that get rowdy, but they are no more intense than events such as Pachanga or the Liquid Latex party.

I’ve even seen a few friends from home change their facial expressions when I mention that I am in a fraternity. Again, this is because of the perception that Greek life creates. When these people see me, they immediately assign me certain “unwanted” characteristics. This is about as fair as seeing a member of Hillel and assuming they are only concerned with their religion; it may be the case for a select few people but I am positive that most other members of Hillel are multi-faceted people who have interests besides Judaism.

Why is Greek life not allowed to host events on campus? In all honesty, no matter what anyone tells me, I still can’t get to the bottom of this one. Greek life, as I am to understand, is on the same level of some clubs, such as any improv comedy group. They both are selective, which immediately removes them from any sort of consideration for funding and they both have an “interesting” system for getting membership. Yet improv comedy groups are allowed to host semester shows on campus, while Greek life is only allowed to have an event on campus if it is co-sponsored by another club. Does this go back to assumptions about Greek life or does this problem lie somewhere else? I have no idea.

What it comes down to is, no matter what you think about Greek life or how awful the parties might be, these Greek life members are still Brandeisians at heart—they still went through the same application process as you, went through orientation with you and still struggle through the same classes as you. They even eat the same food as you (or did, when they lived on campus). The difference is that some of their interests lie in other places than yours and this is exactly what makes Brandeis such a great place to attend.