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Frankly Speaking No. 4: Should Stanford do away with Greek life?

Last week, Frankly Speaking, a crowd-sourced opinions column, asked the Stanford community to weigh in on the question: Should Stanford do away with Greek life? Published below are three notable answers we received.

Some context we asked respondents to consider: About 25 percent of the undergraduate student body are members of Greek-letter organizations. However, it seems fair to say nearly all undergraduates have encountered Greek life in some formulation, whether that be through social events, through seeing friends and acquaintances undergo recruitment or by reading about Greek organizations in campus news and opinions over the years, including Episode 5 of the Daily Brew, the Daily’s new podcast.

In light of the Fountain Hopper’s recent story about Kappa Sigma’s military ‘Boot Camp’ party, the disbanding of a Swarthmore fraternity after its offensive internal documents surfaced (which later led admin to pull the plug on all Greek life at Swarthmore) and the fact that Harvard bars members of single-gender Greek organizations from holding leadership positions in student clubs, we wondered what Stanford students made of the Greek presence on our campus and whether it should/does have a future at Stanford.

Claire Dinshaw:

If you believe that Greek Life does more harm than good at Stanford, then your quarrel is not with Greek Life itself but rather with the Stanford administration.

People dislike Greek Life because they feel it is exclusive. However, it is largely so exclusive because, over time, Stanford’s policies have caused fraternities to be shut down and unhoused, leading there to be only a small number of remaining fraternity houses.

People dislike Greek Life because they feel it exercises too much control over the social scene. However, the only reason most parties are thrown at fraternities is because they are the only organizations with the level of funding necessary to throw social events throughout the year. Clubs are not allowed to directly purchase alcohol, and most co-ops and houses have more limited social budgets.

People dislike Greek Life because they feel it is partially responsible for the shockingly high levels of rape and sexual assault incidents on college campuses. To these people I say, do you really think getting rid of Greek Life will drastically alter the behavior of the individuals responsible for these incidents? Do you mean to tell me that you think the rates of rape and sexual assault are lower at non-Greek schools? (Because the statistics suggest otherwise.)

Greek Life is blamed for furthering sexist, racist, classist and heteronormative behavior, yet countless other organizations on campus are just as guilty of similar behavior. Consider the fact that the entire row, not just the Greek houses, skews white and upper-class.

Greek Life is simply a convenient scapegoat for problems that would be there regardless of its existence. Greek Life is blamed for issues that are embedded in our university policies and culture.

Anonymous :

I believe Greek life is wholly unnecessary, and in my five years at Stanford, I’ve seen it do much more harm than good. It inspires tribalism, unhealthy habits like binge drinking (alcohol isn’t a personality trait, pass it on), accepting or rejecting others based on factors such as looks and money and offensive social politics, and the herd mentality brings out the worst in people. Because Greek life is so prevalent at Stanford, it’s hard to socialize in other ways, but if Greek life were disbanded, people would have to actually try to socialize authentically and not just stick to a safe zone full of people like themselves. People shouldn’t have to compete for friendship or belonging.

Anonymous:

Stanford should not do away with Greek life as it is a primary source of community for so many on this campus. While it is rooted in an archaic system that many organizations on this campus continue to fight, it still provides a home and a community for many that did not find it right away at Stanford. Greek communities provide opportunities to give back to the Stanford community and various philanthropies. They are communities where men and women can learn leadership skills and gain access to a professional alumni network. There are so many positives behind the scenes that those in Greek life observe everyday that aren’t as evident to the greater Stanford community. Knowing leaders and members of Greek communities across campus, I think they are working in the right direction, and hopefully, Stanford supports them in this time.

Frankly Speaking is aimed at extending discourse and debate on important subjects beyond Daily staffers. We want to hear from students across disciplines and social identities about their unique takes on campus news and culture. 

If you want to have your take on campus news published in The Dailycontribute to the next edition of Frankly Speaking at http://bit.ly/255FranklySpeaking.

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