While this may be a topic that has been examined several times before, in light of the recent events that have taken place at Penn State, I think it is important to readdress the current Greek system. I have never been a part of greek life, and in fact did not completely understand what it was until coming to college. However, from many of the events and processes that I have witnessed, I think it is crucial that younger people become more critical of the Greek system and it’s implications on feminism and societal progress.
Many people are complaining that Greek Life is unfairly going through bad press. What is problematic with this assessment is that this not bad press, this is the reality of the system. It is no longer okay to simply accept or ignore the troubling acts that are justified under Greek Life. Sororities and Fraternities are, by nature, exclusive and perpetuate elitism. Standards of acceptability based on socioeconomic status, race, and appearances are promoted within these institutions. In a state college where a large percentage of the student body participates in the Greek system, ideologies such as these are applied to society at large are detrimental.
Sororities loudly proclaim a foundation of sisterhood, and what could be more feminist and empowering than sisterhood? However, a sisterhood that is rooted in a harsh judgment process where only a certain type of individual is let in does nothing for the feminist cause. Additionally, the Greek system continues to promote certain gender-roles. Many studies have shown that for both females and males, affiliation with a Greek organization is associated with traditional male dominant-female submissive mentalities.
In regards to the recent scandal that broke out with Kappa Delta Rho’s Facebook page that posted inappropriate images of women without their consent, it is important view some to the responses that came in defense. Some stated that this sort of thing has been going on for decades in one form or another, and the vilification of these boys’s reputation is unfair. Not only is this a sad attempt to undermine the seriousness of a sexual crime, but it also fails in its own logic to connect to the reputation of the victims. This is the sort of mentality that is perpetuated in a misogynistic culture. How much many more incidents of sexual assault, violence, and hazing will it take until people realize things need to seriously and permanently change?
I do not want this post to read as a complete bashing of the Greek system as a whole. I see the merits of collective organizations coming together to give people a place to call home, promote philanthropy, and build a community. So long as sororities and fraternities place a greater focus on these aspects, it can be a wonderful thing. However, I want this post to be a wake up call. Penn State’s current stance on Greek Life has allowed for the sexual exploitation of women and a culture of elitism to grow.
This post it not to point fingers, this is incite action. Being complicit of a culture of sexism and inequality only allows it grow. No matter how much people will try to justify and defend this culture, the reality remains unchanged. The traditional Greek system needs to be reformed, and it is up to us to do that. We can no longer acquiesce actions of KDR, we can longer acquiesce sexual crimes against women, we can no longer allow Greek mentality to hinder progress to a brighter future.