Greek life should die quickly

Undeclared

samantha shadrow online

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At each of the colleges I attended, I learned how the gender binary is used to dole out reward and punishment, implicitly and explicitly employed to justify discrimination.

At Northwestern University, I was introduced to the idea that gender is socially constructed, with various (usually favorable) qualities attributed to men and other (oftentimes denigrating) qualities attributed to women.

At Pierce College, I learned how keeping women, particularly women of color, from enjoying the same rights as men has been justified in the past by drawing upon the notions of the inferiority of the feminine.

At Claremont McKenna and UC Berkeley, I was asked to challenge this binary way of looking at the world.

With all of these lessons, I found it hard to believe that two of these four schools — Northwestern University and UC Berkeley — actively allow gender-based social clubs to thrive on their campuses. In a stunning bait-and-switch, these schools teach their students about the harmful impacts of gender and then continue to legitimize fraternities’ and sororities’ divisive claim over campus life.

It is my belief that we should be fighting a stereotypically gendered world — not celebrating it.

As I wrote in my column last week, the Greek system creates new divisions on campus and exacerbates preexisting ones. Please allow me to elaborate on why I think the Greek system ought to be abolished.

Fraternities are the gatekeepers of nightlife in the Greek system, hosting parties and providing alcohol. Sororities are not given, or perhaps not trusted with, this responsibility. That means men and men alone hold a great deal of power.

As a new female student, it can be tempting to cozy up to the fraternity brothers who decide whether or not you can participate in a huge portion of social life on campus. As a new male student, you might feel like you have to rush or face exclusion entirely.

Many friends of mine decided to do just that — to join rather than to be subject to the whims of these gatekeepers. In the process, budding friendships were broken, as formerly friendly young men and women were sorted into this stratified system that demands in-group loyalty.

For example, at Northwestern University, prospective female pledges go through a grueling process in which they trudge from house to house, speed-meeting sorority members who, in 15 short minutes, decide whether or not the young woman is worthy of membership. There was, of course, a hierarchy of sororities, and most freshmen wanted entrance into the top three. Getting an offer from a low-tier sorority was often a source of sadness or shame.

In my group of friends, the best-looking and wealthiest girls were often given spots in the top three sororities. Those without the cultural and financial capital to present themselves in a way deemed desirable by the best sororities would get bids from middle- or low-tier sororities.

Or, in the worst-case scenario, a pledge would not be bid on at all. I remember a friend of mine went through the whole process only to end up without any offers. She was miserable and dejected, but to make matters worse friends of hers that were selected by sororities ended up drifting away from her, an untouchable of sorts.

This clique mentality exists with fraternities as well, as it becomes difficult to spend time with people outside of the Greek bubble. Even with the best intentions, all the formals and theme parties and house meetings often prevent members from engaging with non-Greeks.

And while it might be tempting to write off my experience as something that only applies to Northwestern, UC Berkeley Greek life is rife with the same sort of hierarchical, sexist and discriminatory behavior. Though not officially affiliated with campus Greek life, a blog that ranks the different sororities on campus based upon how “dateable,” “hot” or “Asian” their members are reveals this mentality.

Even worse, in 2016 UC Berkeley’s frats had to suspend their party-hosting duties in order to deal with the problem of sexual assault. It is not surprising that a system designed for and controlled by men would have this gender-based violence. I do applaud UC Berkeley’s fraternities for attempting to remedy this issue, an issue that is certainly not unique to the Greek system. I still, however, believe a more permanent remedy might be appropriate. Just because the problem exists elsewhere in the world doesn’t mean we should allow it to fester on our campus.

The backlash The Daily Californian writers (including myself) receive when criticizing the Greek system seems to indicate that the system itself is not only unwilling to change, but hostile to anyone that dares to address the many issues sororities and fraternities suffer from and perpetuate. The universities that allow them to exist ought to reflect upon the effects of their endorsement.

Samantha writes the Friday column on undergraduate myths. Contact her at [email protected].

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  • ShadrachSmith

    You first :-)

  • jim hoch

    “Even with the best intentions, all the formals and theme parties and house meetings often prevent members from engaging with non-Greeks”

    Very kind of you to spend so much time worrying about the limited social life of these students. Did they ask you for help?

  • Purrelli

    Gee lady, remind me not to ask YOU out on a date. Talk about a man-hater. If you want to be a lonely old maid, you are on the right track. What is your major? Victimhood Actualization Studies? Reality is very different than college. Might want to drop the chip off your shoulder

  • Jorge Carolinos

    It’s odd how the religious right and progressive left have such a hard time with evolution, the sexes behave certain ways because evolution has programmed them that way, all this non sense about constructs is just an attempt to deny millions of years of evolution.

    There is no such thing as a gender constructed world, there is just the world, Born again Christian types try and insist that being gay is a choice when it is probably hard wired. The left insist that gender is a construct while agreeing that sexual preference is hard wired, this is just an attempt to have things every which way based on a political agenda that is as created out of make believe.

    Why what people do across town is such an issue with the religious right and leftist types is a mystery, “did you hear there is a gay bar/frat in our area, what shall we do as good Christians/leftists” The soft authoritarian entitlement to tell other people what they should be thinking and doing from the two extremes is so odd.

  • arty

    I don’t necessarily fill that way about the Frat-system though you have far more experience.

  • lspanker

    May I ask a simple question of the author? Who the f**k really cares?

    I never was involved in the fraternity scene @ Cal, nobody ever solicited my membership, nor did I even notice, much less care. I showed up on campus as a former staff sergeant and USAF aircrew member, and palling around with a bunch of children who had cheap taste in liquor (and couldn’t hold it down) and no good stories wasn’t of any interest to me. I did my stint living in a dorm with a bunch of other guys, and after years of traveling in the Pacific, Asia and Europe, I couldn’t imagine any frat/sorority party ranking up there with a squadron BBQ/beer bash on Wake Island or Kwajalein, much less having a few San Miguels on Fields Street in Angeles City, Charlie’s Tacos and Orion beer on Gate 2 street in Okinawa, karaoke in Roppongi, Tokyo, overnighters at the hooch in A-Town outside Kunsan Air Base in Korea, or a few Singhas on Soi Cowboy or Nana Plaza in BKK (unofficial C-141 aircrew description was “2 college graduates driving 3 high school dropouts from party to party”). I had little to no contact with anyone involved in fraternities, I had no interest in them and they had no interest in me. They may have been cool dudes or the biggest bunch of spoiled souches on the planet. So what? You’re not in High School anymore, so stop worrying about petty stuff that doesn’t matter one bit in the real world…

  • Jose Gonzales

    “It is not surprising that a system designed for and controlled by men would have this gender-based violence.” Rapes happen everywhere. Kids get raped in the Unit 3 courtyard and sexually battered on the edges of campus. Parties are an especially dangerous environment just because people are drunk, and random people sneak in, but there you go blaming the hosts’ sexes.

  • Jose Gonzales

    Frat + sorority members / UCB undergrad population = 10%.
    I’ve chosen not to associate with most of that 10%.
    If that’s keeping you excluded from social life, you’re doing something wrong.

  • Jack Spencer

    It is because of the offensive stereotyping the writer thrives on. Your personal issues aside, trashing a group of good people with ill conceived notions is uncalled for. Also you seem to have a lack of awareness that the Greek system of Cal is among the most diverse in the world. All ethnicities, and the GLBTG community, are strongly represented. There are also many houses were alcohol is not served nor permitted.

  • anon

    I don’t get it.

    I personally can’t stand frats, and have no interest in the nightlife that they provide. I am sympathetic to many of the social criticisms that you outline — but my jaw is slack at how vapid your solutions are. As the other poster says, if you don’t like what they are doing, then don’t participate. It is incredible how full of envious and resentful this piece sounds when read. These emotions will devour you if you cannot find a way to move past them.

    So you lost some friends to Greek Life, and some suffered rejection. Everyone will suffer rejection eventually. Lick your wounds, find a community that accepts you as you, and stop trying to police everything that everyone else is doing.

  • Alex

    “Fraternities are the gatekeepers of nightlife in the Greek system, hosting parties and providing alcohol. Sororities are not given, or perhaps not trusted with, this responsibility. That means men and men alone hold a great deal of power.”

    Hey ladies, no one is forcing you to show up to our parties. If no women showed up to fraternity parties, all their power would be gone. You have it completely mixed up – men do not derive their power over women by hosting parties and providing alcohol, women voluntarily give this to them by showing up!

    Simple reason for this arrangement: risk management. Hosting social events invites lots of potential problems. Fraternities take on these risks in exchange for the myriad of returns that can be gained.

    Sororities do not take on these risks. That is left to the MEN. So, if you want to have this structure changed, you have to go a lot farther than examining this through the warped lens of gender studies.

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      she doesn’t live in the real world, she lives in her own world. She thinks because people disagree with her and her colleagues that they are too horrible to ever change. She is virtue signaling. I’m not sure who hires the Daily Cal writers but they really need some people who have actual knowledge on subjects, maybe grad students instead of undergrads that only study and learn information that supports their agenda.

  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    “The backlash The Daily Californian writers (including myself) receive when criticizing the Greek system seems to indicate that the system itself is not only unwilling to change, but hostile to anyone that dares to address the many issues sororities and fraternities suffer from and perpetuate. The universities that allow them to exist ought to reflect upon the effects of their endorsement.”

    Nope, your guys articles are just really bad and about nothing with no insider or new news just rants by you guys. I’m not part of the Greek community and never have been and never would but you sound like someone who isn’t accepting of people unless they think like you and obviously you had some problems in high school from people who you tend to lump into the “sorority” (popular) crowd. You’re like a teen drama on the Disney channel. Not to mention your close minded virtue signaling regarding genders in you article. These schools you go to are just indoctrinating you, can you not see that? I mean, you do realize you’ve never really lived in the real world with your mommy and daddy obviously fronting the bill for all of your college switches and adventures bc you are privileged girl who obviously thinks shes better than most people and far wiser to the world.

    • lspanker

      You’re like a teen drama on the Disney channel… I mean, you do realize you’ve never really lived in the real world with your mommy and daddy obviously fronting the bill for all of your college switches and adventures bc you are privileged girl who obviously thinks shes better than most people and far wiser to the world.

      LOL! Best comment yet. :O)

    • Jorge Carolinos

      Progressive thought is imperialist. They like diversity of quaint things that minorities do in their nice little neighborhoods, thats the only diversity that they like, different world views are something that they have a hard time with.