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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Social Life at Brandeis?

Published: October 6, 2006
Section: Opinions

Many complain about the lack of a social scene at Brandeis University. Although I would contend that the social scene is what you make of it, I would agree to some extent that there is a kind of depression when one considers the lack of parties that present themselves at this university. Then I look back at my first Brandeis party, the one in the basement of a random house. It was fun, had drinks (virgin ones for those under 21, of course) and was not broken up by the po-po (so you dont embarrass yourselves in front of your friends, that phrase refers to the POLICE).
Who sponsored this party, kept it safe (and un-shady) and actually cared about whether people had too much to drink or needed a ride home or had a question about anything at all? Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) is the simple answer to that question. Sure, there are non-Greek options for parties on campus, but they lack the structure and safeguards that are present at fraternal ones, which are uptight, and rightfully so, about their reputations as respected organizations.

But Greek life, as Zeta Beta Tau member and head of Brandeiss Greek Awareness Club (GAC) Elliot Danko has pointed out, is more than just a means to achieve a social environment at an (arguably) otherwise upsettingly quiet scholastic institution. Danko, whose sophomore year included getting mono and simultaneously experiencing difficult personal issues, considered transferring out of Brandeis University because of the effects, especially academically, arising from these problems. Fraternity brothers, however, were able to provide him with a support network to make sure he got healthier and improved his grades. His fellow Zeebs helped him endure through these hardships and therefore came in handy this time for something other than a wild Friday night gathering. Consequentially, Elliot Danko was able to stay at the (top-notch) university to which he had already been situated. The troubles of switching schools were now irrelevant to his life.

So should fraternities be part of the university officially? My response to that inquiry is negative. Just like our nations separation of church and state (theoretically) helps both the state and the religions themselves, the separation of Greek Life and Brandeis University allows our school to maintain its technical disassociation with Greek Life while allowing fraternities and sororities to have complete responsibility and hold absolute power over their own actions. As sophomore Damien Lehfeldt puts it, Greek life doesnt have to be recognized, but it should be accepted by the university. Without being bound to university regulations but at the same time tolerated by the administration so far, the Greek System has been a valuable resource to our community.

Fraternities also supplement the career-oriented programs that Brandeis offers, giving its members a large support network for jobs after college. For example, Josh Zegen, older brother of Marc Zegen, started a commercial loans company in New York with some friends and aided fraternity brother Elliot Danko in getting an internship. Danko also mentions Michael Romer, who started a club that Janet Jackson reserved for her CD release party. As you can see, these are connections with the big players.

Zeta Beta Tau President Todd Kulkin sums it up best in e-mail statement that he composed and sent to me: Greek life is an experience unlike any other that a University can offer to its student body. Fraternities and Sororities nurture their members into successful leaders, while providing a wonderful bonding experience with their fellow brothers/sisters. Fraternity men and Sorority women take part in many different activities which not only enhance their own situations, buttheir respective schools andcommunities-at-large, as well.

I should end by mentioning the fact that sororities are also an important part of the college atmosphere. Since I have limited knowledge of those organizations, however, I am hereby opening up that discussion to others who are less ignorant than I on that subject. Id be a fool to pretend I knew anything about it. So I hope my article sparks those discussions, and many more, on this and related topics.

Editor's Note: Writer Daniel Baron is a member of Zeta Beta Tau.