Diversity of Thought

by Chien Wen Kung | 7/9/01 5:00am

To the Editor:

Lest you should accuse me of bias and "entrenched arch-conservatism," let me just state right off that I am not white, Anglo-Saxon or Protestant (I am not even an American). I am not, and do not plan on being, a member of any fraternity. Social life in my freshman year did not revolve around the Greek system. But I have no problems with those people who do choose to head over to Webster Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights. I will also add that I do not feel threatened or suppressed by the system in general; many of my friends who are equally infrequent patrons of the system share the same view. While I disapprove " as indeed most people do " of binge drinking and the behavior that results from it, I accept the rights of each person to determine his or her social life. Indeed, the whole purpose of having a social life is to allow oneself the freedom to do what one wants, largely " but not completely " disassociated from the rules that govern the academic week.

Unfortunately, neither the administration nor the faculty seems to take heed of these points. In the area of academics, which the faculty specializes in, alternative opinions from those less-qualified (students without a B.A) are welcomed and encouraged. But with regards to social life, which the administration and faculty cannot presume to know all about, alternative opinions from those whom social life means the most to (again, students) are not taken into account at all.

Who exactly is intolerant here? The Greek system or the administration? Critical self-evaluation is necessary for the progress of an institution; the Greek system is not without its problems. Hence I welcome the overall goal of the Student Life Initiative"enhanced social life. On paper, it looks fine and admirable. But I disagree with how it is being implemented, and empathize with frustrated members of the Greek Life Steering Committee like Ryan Clark '01 who have demonstrated a willingness to cooperate, and yet are being largely ignored. I also think that a more critical perspective is needed on just what the problems of the Greek system are. The most obvious problems seem to be those of hygiene (ball falls on floor, rolls under long-standing couch, lands in beer, beer is consumed) and safety (what would happen if a fire broke out in the basement of a crowded frat with only one narrow exit?).

I wish the administration and faculty would simply come clean about their true motivations and beliefs for once. In an academic community in which the diversity of thought (not just sexuality, ethnicity and class) is paramount, this is not an unrealistic invitation. Specifically, please address questions of paternalism, student involvement in the SLI, and -- if you so wish -- how you led your own social lives when you were young.