An Open Response to “Collegiate Discrimination”

Earlier today, I read an eloquently written article entitled “Stop Defending Greek Life“.

I’ll be honest, I stumbled across it in a “connection” Facebook group for my sorority, and clicked on it because the title intrigued me. Especially when I’ve come to be known as a bit of a vigilante for defending my fellow Greeks (and Greek life in general) – you can get a glimpse of that here. But in any case. I read this really awesome article that lit a true fire under me when it comes to Greek life and how it is so important to defend our position, not with our words but with our actions. Then I took a nap.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall asleep while I’m awake, you know?” Well, Ernie, I should have listened to you. While I was working on getting ahead on my reading so I wouldn’t have to do homework over the long weekend, my phone blew up with multiple texts asking if I’ve seen the latest stab at Greek life in the online journalistic community. I’d been studying, so clearly I hadn’t, but I knew it was something I needed to check out when I had 3 additional people ask me in the course of a 75 minute economics class what I thought of it. So, I looked it up.. At first, I was infuriated. Absolutely, utterly, unadulteratedly disappointed. I laughed in disgust a little. I had to take some time to collect my thoughts, cool off, and do my best to see the other perspective before I opened my mouth (Macbook).

The article begins with a shoutout to the University of Louisville being one of the most diverse schools in Kentucky, as well as the friendliest public institution in the South for LGBTQ community. Then, it just kind of jumps off a cliff on a complete warpath against Greek life, claiming that it is “a breeding grounds for some of the most intense race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination”. Whoaaaa, Nelly – hold your horses. I was fighting back unkind words two and a half paragraphs in.

The author of the article goes on to outline the structure of Greek life here at UofL, noting that there are three Greek councils that preside: National Panhellenic Council (NPC), Intra-Fraternity Council (IFC), and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). What he fails to note however, is that these three councils do not only exist in the realm of Greek life here at Louisville – all three councils are international governing bodies. In addition, he fails to make any mention of the strong bonds forged between chapters of each of the separate councils. From philanthropy events, to social events, and even the recruitment process, these organizations are continuously supporting, standing beside, and otherwise making connections with chapters of various council affiliation.

He then gets a little sassy, putting words in the mouths of Greeks across campus – and clearly unbeknownst to him due to a lack of proper research – internationally, when he says:

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To take his lead, Newsflash: “Racist” is defined as “a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.” Maybe it’s the white privilege that I’m constant reminded of, but I struggle to understand how accepting (with open arms) members of various racial/ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions constitutes racism – implicit or explicit. I can’t help but wonder if he ever took into consideration that the number of African American (which he states repeatedly, but I would like to include minorities of all backgrounds in this statement) has nothing to do with Greek life, but rather just a cultural difference in the preferences of organizations that students choose to join? I don’t say that to sound brash or even racist myself, it’s just an honest question that maybe someone else could help me understand more clearly.

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My fingers did a dance above my keyboard a little longer than normal before I fully decided where to begin on this one. Let me start off by saying that I will keep my personal views to a minimum (because they are irrelevant to this topic) but that I have many friends who are members of both the Greek life and LGBTQ communities. Maybe I run with a different crowd than the author, because never once have I heard one of my friends tell me that they feel uncomfortable being themselves – in fact, more often than not they PRAISE the Greek community for its acceptance of these individuals despite differing personal views and beliefs they may hold. The same goes for active members who are of religious backgrounds that don’t necessarily align directly with the Christian views of most of us in the South, and even those who consider themselves not religious.

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The author introduces this clause, that is required by both the University of Louisville and Student Government Association of all organizations registered with the University. While it is an interesting (and entertaining) thought to hound on Greek organizations for “not following” their governing documents as well as to question their legitimacy for it – this argument fails to take into account the strict limitations placed on Greek organizations by Title IX. We saw what happened at the University of Alabama last fall, when racism actually was put into place by sororities during recruitment. Ask yourself this. Do you honestly see that happening at UofL? Or is it a matter of people who have a personal vendetta against Greek life causing unnecessary harm to the reputation of organizations that make a difference in the lives of members, alumni, the university, and the surrounding community?

If you are a member of Greek life and can answer that you honestly see Greek life as a terrible, racist institution – please, PLEASE come forward and present your case to your respective council. Without voices being heard, no change can be enacted. You can write articles criticizing Greek life until your fingers fall off, but if you don’t bring it to the people in charge how can you expect change? On the other hand, if you’re like me – and were completely appalled by this article, let me reiterate what the original article I read today had to say. There will always be haters of Greek life. There will always be people who don’t understand what we do, what we stand for, who we are. No matter what the issue is, there will always be keyboard warriors and there will be those who defend their position with actions. It is time for us, as a community, to stand up and be the ones who prove ourselves with our actions.

Don’t get me wrong before you call me out for being a “keyboard warrior” myself. When I click “publish” and close my laptop, I won’t be taking a personal vendetta against the author of that article with me as he will for Greek life. I’ll be taking a renewed love and appreciation for my sisters and brothers of Greek life – of all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities, religions, backgrounds – with me.

I’ll take that love and continue to defy stereotypes through my actions, because i refuse to stand by and listen while someone says, “So much for brotherhood and sisterhood.”