Dear old fraternity

By Jeff Myczek

Judging from the recent frontal assault the Greek system has faced on the opinions page over the last few days, it would be easy to assume that being “Greek” is a bad thing. According to the columns and letters, Greeks are racist, ignorant, drunk, promiscuous and unintelligent. Such an assumption, however, is not only unfair to the large number of students on this campus who are in fraternities and sororities, but it is also unfair to the legacy the Greek system has left on both this University and this country.

The American college fraternity may be a relatively new concept, but the idea of a selective group of people getting together to share good times and similar values is not. The first selective societies in the West started centuries ago with the guilds of Medieval Europe and the birth of the Freemasons – who would later cross the Atlantic and bring their organization with them. Secret societies then continued to evolve on both continents, leading eventually to the college fraternity. The fraternity, while often stigmatized as a uniquely American institution, is not. The Germans, for example, have their own kind that early in the century was extremely popular with the professional classes of society.

Fraternities and sororities, rather than producing a breed of drunken idiots, have built many of the leading statesmen and women of this country today. Among prominent Greeks in today’s society are George W. Bush, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and Laura Bush, to name a few. Greeks also comprise a higher than proportional percentage of U.S. representatives, senators, and corporate CEOs. Being Greek does not hinder success, but rather helps build it.

Rather than loafing around and degrading society, the Greeks on this campus are leaders in both community service and philanthropy. Greek philanthropy events on this campus, benefiting causes from leukemia research to preventing child abuse, raise tens of thousands of dollars each year for those causes. Greek members also perform thousands of hours of community service for a variety of area organizations, and are more than active with the local Adopt-a-Highway program.

The stereotype that Greeks are all ignorant idiots is not only unwarranted, but wrong. While the all-student campus GPA average for the University is a 3.14, the all-Greek campus GPA average is a 3.18, and among sororities an even higher 3.34, clearly defying the stereotype that Greeks do not take academics seriously and that sorority girls are simply a bunch of “dumb blondes.” Like all students here at this University, Greeks understand that they are here for academics, and their grades show it. Rather than being an inhibitor to successful higher education, the Greek system helps provide a solid foundation for a fruitful college experience.

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Furthermore, the assertion that Greeks pay to be with a group of people they are “forced” to be with does a great disservice to the real friendships built in Greek houses. Like any organization with more than one person, there is bound to be a few people someone might not like, but that is no different than being in a class or having a job with students or co-workers you may not get along with. Such is life. Any individual with a connection to anyone Greek can tell you that the bonds built between Greek members often last a lifetime – I know mine will.

Greek life here at the University is not about booze, ignorance, stupidity, and trying to get it on every night. It is about spending good times with life-long friends, taking your studies seriously, being an active and engaged member of the community, meeting people from a variety of different backgrounds, becoming a leader and joining an ongoing legacy of success. Nearly every person who joins a Greek organization will tell you that it was one of the best decisions they made in their life. The Greek system may not be perfect, but the positive legacy it leaves on the lives of college students far outweighs any of its shortcomings.

Jeff Myczek, whose family is rabidly anti-Greek, is a junior in LAS, and his columns usually run on Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].