LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Greeks offer defense of fraternity and sorority life

On Sunday, members of the Greek community participated in a campus-wide cleanup of Springfest debris--one of the many ways the Greek community gives back, according to these guest columnists. (Photo: CORY MUSCARA)

By: Lukas Friga, Ted Koller, Francheska Vargas and Cory Muscara

A recent opinion piece in The Campus painted Greek life as dishonorable, promoting “abhorrent practices.” As current members of Greek life, we disagree completely. The author made misleading statements and insulted 612 of his peers in the process.

The author instructs members of the Greek community to “rethink this serious gap between their advertised morals and their actual behavior.” We ask “What gap?” Here at Allegheny, Greek students are leaders on campus and Greek alumni give generously back to the school in many ways.

According to an internal survey conducted this spring, 134 Greek students hold leadership positions in clubs or student organizations. 27 Greek students are Resident Advisors or Community Advisors. 32 Greek students serve in Allegheny Student Government or on Cabinet. 66 Greek students are or have been peer leaders. Furthermore, the all-Greek GPA over the past two semesters is 3.135 – higher than the all-Allegheny GPA, which is 3.08.

This reputation of excellence is what inspires fraternity and sorority members to do well academically. Many members of Greek Life feel that their fraternity or sorority has given them role models who demonstrate a serious commitment to their studies and who are leaders in the broader campus community, not just in Greek life.
Philanthropy and community service play a huge role in the purpose and function of Greek organizations. Last fall alone, Greek members volunteered 5,256 hours of their time and raised $10,539 for charity. As recently as this past Sunday, 250 members of Greek life conducted an all-campus cleanup after Springfest.

We do understand that Greek life is not for everybody. Just as sports teams or student organizations can provide a sense of belonging for certain students, so do Greek organizations. This sense of belonging positively influences on Greek students, who strive to represent their organization on campus with pride and integrity.

The much-maligned social aspect of fraternities and sororities is also misunderstood. While sports teams or even students living in off-campus housing must answer only to the school for their behavior, Greek organizations also have mandated risk-management policies and national organizations that monitor and enforce regulations.

What was truly shocking about last week’s letter to the editor was its vitriolic tone and misleading arguments. In the article, the author calls the Greek community a “disease.” He implies that having Greek organizations on campus leads to “destructive and often illegal activities,” and goes further to strongly imply that the Allegheny Greek community encourages “more repulsive activities” such as “violent crimes as severe as rape and murder.”

Such claims, as ludicrous as they are, are damaging to the entire Allegheny College community. The actions of a few Greeks have been taken to represent the over twenty five percent of this campus which is Greek. The authors of this piece strongly condemn any fraternity or sorority member who contributes to this “predatory culture,” but there is no logical connection between anecdotal evidence of one regrettable incident and the supposedly “entrenched” behavior of the Greek community.

The Allegheny College Greek community is always open to a discussion about our role on campus. We invite the author of the column–indeed, any student at the school with concerns–to come address us directly. We do respectfully request, however, that criticism be based upon facts, not fiction. Remember that Greek life is more than simply an abstract concept, but represents many of your peers and friends.