Anti-Greek '00s face mixed reactions

by Rachel Osterman | 11/24/99 6:00am

Following the admission of their anti-Greek sentiments in The Dartmouth earlier this month, five seniors -- Ben Berk, Josh Green, Teresa Knoedler, Noah Phillips, and Janelle Ruley -- have received substantial negative and some positive feedback.

The first students to publically call for the elimination of the Greek system following the Initiative announcement in February, the seniors said some of their personal relationships have suffered as a consequence of their anti-Greek stance, but that none of their closest friendships have been affected by it.

"I've gotten pretty much a wide variety of responses," Phillips said. "Everything from people decrying my trying to ruin their way of life to people coming up and hugging me on the street.

These five students acknowledged that they had expected social consternation from many of their peers in the wake of their admission, but said they were willing to face such a possible consequence.

"This has been an opportunity to find out who my friends are in spite of what opinions I have," said Knoedler, echoing the conclusions reached by the three other students interviewed for this article. Ruley was the only one of the five who declined to comment.

Phillips said he was dismayed by what he called a "pathetic and completely baseless" attempt to "paint me as a racist" in order to invalidate his anti-Greek views, referring to an opinion piece published in The Dartmouth criticizing him for his use of the word "simian" as a derogatory reference to people who use the word "'sup."

While most of the feedback the students received came from individuals, Phi Delta Alpha fraternity took a formal, unified stance, revoking Green's lease to use its parking lot.

Although Green said he found the BlitzMail notification Phi Delt sent him asking him to remove his car funny and creative, he also said it raised deeper concerns.

"I would say that on a more serious note it underlined how difficult it must be for lots of people on this campus to speak out against the Greek system, because when you do there are very tangible consequences."

"Of course there have been houses that have told me I'm not welcome," said Phillips. "People have said to me, 'There are those that feel you are not welcome.'"

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity also discussed the November 1 article in a formal context, debating whether the five seniors should be allowed access to its house. The eventual consensus reached by the fraternity was that the students should be welcomed, and, in fact, several of them have gone to organized SAE activities since then.

"The clear majority of brothers felt that there was no reason not to allow them to events in our house," said Thad Glowacki '00, president of SAE.

He said the reasons why some of the fraternity members were wary of letting the five students enter the house were twofold. Apart from the hypocrisy, Glowacki said some of the brothers were fearful that the five individuals were threatening because they could come to the house, see something they might not like, and then make that public.

The anti-Greek students said many people who agree with their opinions have approached them but feel uncomfortable voicing them.

"I think it goes to show how difficult it is to come out against the Greek system," said Phillips.

Berk added, "There's been a great number of people thanking us, which is why it bothers me so much that people say we are statistically insignificant."

All the students said they received a mixture of both constructive and senseless feedback.

"I got a random blitz from somebody that said 'You are a joke.' That kind of epitomizes the negative responses," Berk said.

Green said he regrets that the discussion on campus hasn't been more constructive, adding he feels there are a lot of constructive ideas out there that aren't being discussed.