Let The System Live On

by Jim Brennan | 11/4/94 6:00am

Before I start, I'd like to qualify my opinions by noting that I am not a member of a Greek organization.

I am speaking as someone who has formed his opinions on fraternities, sororities and co-ed houses through interaction with friends, parties that I have attended and from events of which I have heard.

In my two years at Dartmouth, I have become convinced that too many people disparage and criticize the Greek system without an adequate understanding of its many different positive aspects. In my two years at Dartmouth, I have come to this direct realization.

The Greek system is a beneficial component of the Dartmouth community.

I am of the opinion that fraternities, sororities and co-ed houses serve important roles as social outlets and social organizations. Many of my close friends joined their houses with this as a major reason -- for in their houses were other men or women who shared similar interests.

Most of us tend to engage in a practice of free association, and tend to do things with people we like. Greek organizations merely help that along, providing a base, or center that is important in college life.

I reject the common argument that Greek organizations are overly exclusive. On a typical Friday or Saturday night, most of Dartmouth's mainstream campus attends parties at fraternities or sororities of which they are not a member. I am one of those who has never felt unwelcome at a party or excluded by a friend who is in a Greek house. Rush is an extremely open process as well. In the system that has been organized by the Panhellenic Council for the sororities, every woman that rushes receives a bid to a house.

It is rarely recognized and noted that fraternities, sororities and co-ed houses also serve an important role as centers of organization for community service. The recent "Make a Difference Day" was a classic example of fraternity and sorority members working to better the local community. Greek Houses also must engage in community service each term as part of their minimum standards that are set by the College. Unfortunately, many who criticize the Greek system at Dartmouth conveniently forget this aspect of its existence.

I find it unfortunate that opponents of the Greek system tend to stereotype its members. The image portrayed by chalk drawings that state "Frats rape" or parodies of rush that hint at sorority members as vacuous clothes worshippers have no place in a dignified discussion of Dartmouth's social system. They are just as wrong as the stereotypes that men and women opposed to the Greek system often try to dispel.

New programs such as the pledge education series show that fraternities, sororities and co-ed houses are addressing what are considered to be some of their negatives. To me, positives, such as social opportunity, community service and support far outweigh any detractions associated with Greek organization on the Dartmouth campus.

Free association and the Greek system is alive and well -- and it should stay that way.