The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Unnecessary separation of Greeks, non-Greeks

For those of you who haven’t spent time at SMU during the summer, it’s a different place entirely. It lacks the traditional pressure that we all face — students, staff and professors alike. Campus is much quieter, calmer and more laid back.

Along with this more relaxed atmosphere comes a noticeably different social climate – there is no Greek Life. There may be a few of us students, part of campus Greek Life, who are on campus for summer school or a campus job that still wear identifying pocket tees or a pair of Croakies. But for the most part, Greek blends in with the rest of campus during the summer.

That is more or less the stage for the rest of this column. For those who have been here for a few years, you don’t need the context I am about to provide for the sake of the incoming students that may pick up a Daily Campus during AARO and thumb their way to this article. I am a rising senior and an active member of Greek Life. I’ve experienced the roller coaster highs of social inclusivity and heartwarming community service and also the lows of chapter membership reviews.

I’ve also been, as many students who are members of Greek organizations, an active member of other campus organizations and have worked on campus. What you’ll soon come to find, if you haven’t experienced it already is that SMU students can become very sectioned off from one another unless you’re proactively working toward the contrary.

Students tend to fall in with their respective classmates based on school of study and their friends from student organizations and have little interaction with each other outside of those experiences. What results is a feeling of broad disunity on campus.

A relationship with a particularly large amount of distance is the one between IFC/Panhellenic Greek Life and the rest of our campus community. The IFC and Panhellenic Greek houses are often more than adequate at interacting with the administration through their various councils (generally motivated by self-preservation) but as far as the average student is concerned there is often little discussion and interaction between a non-Greek and a Greek. There are, of course, exceptions but they are outliers and typically come about due to time spent in the residence halls as a first-year or because of a class project.

It is as if Greek Life is this big elephant in the room — either you’re a part of it and you become absorbed into the culture of it or you’re not. The irony of the situation is that, of all student groups on campus, students that fall into IFC/Panhellenic Greek Life are also some of the most involved in other areas of campus life.

The grade point average of undergraduate IFC men is regularly higher than non-Greek undergraduate men and the same applies to Panhellenic women against non-Greek undergraduate women. So why the social divide?

Members of SMU Greek Life, though we perhaps deserve some of our stereotypes at times, do not wish to share their experiences because we feel we have been put on the defensive. Most of the time discussing Greek Life with administrators, faculty and representatives from chapter headquarters is spent stressfully working to reverse stereotypes that apply only to a small minority of Greek Life nationally.

In reality, most of us are dedicated to our academics and are involved in campus life. The problem comes when there is a breakdown of communication and the only thing that those not actively involved in Greek Life see is a news article about a fraternity event gone awry.

When this news is coupled with the unabashedly negative stigma surrounding Greek life it’s not a surprise that those on the outside feel negatively toward Greeks. What tends to be surprising to those who don’t spend much time with the Greek system is that Greek students welcome more Greek life on campus. It makes the Greek system stronger and allows a new place for people to become part of what is a rich academic, service-based and, yes, social community.

The point being, whether anyone would be honest enough to admit it, that there is a very large, very obvious cultural and social gap on campus between those that are a part of Greek Life and those that aren’t. This article is a call to action. Can we all just stop treating it like the elephant in the room? Maybe if we learned to talk about it and if Greeks didn’t feel like the entire country was out to get them then Greek Life would function more like it is intended to function.

Every last fraternity and sorority was founded upon values to help an individual become a better friend, student, and member of our greater community. To maintain this wall between Greek life and non-Greek life makes us all weaker, denies the possibility of new friendships and, generally, detracts from a spirited and united campus community.

I know more than one student who won’t wear fraternity and sorority T-shirts to class out of fear of being judged by professors. I know at times I have been one of these students and it shouldn’t have to be this way.

Greek life doesn’t have to be sectioned off from the rest of the campus. Greek students are already involved and scattered all across campus. Why don’t we all just find a way, campus tour guides especially, to discuss Greek life honestly?

It does no one a favor by pretending that the gaping social divide present on our campus doesn’t exist. Only a few non-Greeks bridge the Greek life social gap successfully – let’s stop telling incoming first-years that it’s any different or let’s change our community to fit the bill. Greeks should be more welcoming and non-Greeks should be less critical of a system that is such a large part of our campus life.

Jack Benage is a senior studying accounting. He can be reached at [email protected]

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