Earlier on in the week, as I was sitting in the confines of my room in Beckley, West Virginia, I saw a letter to the editor which peaked my interest. It was an anonymous RA at WVU listing reasons as to why Greek Life should be shut down after the recent incidents involving fraternities. Let it be known for the record that as the President of the WVU Tech Greek Council, and a fraternity man myself, that behaviour is not becoming of a fraternity man and these individuals should be punished. As a Resident Assistant, I have seen the sides of both Greek life and resident/student life, and it is only fair that someone gives a rebuttal to that piece. Here is that rebuttal.
The Greek Community as a whole does not condone racism, sexism, hazing and conducting activities that may place a person in danger. This is the first point that I wish to point out from the piece written earlier. I have been to fraternity parties in which people have come, had a good time and left knowing that they are safe in the confines of a fraternity house. As someone who has not lived in the United States their whole life, there seems to be a stigma that people must drink at parties. There is also a stigma that Greek life is all fun and no work. That is the opposite of the truth, despite what the media might say.
Greek life is never held in high regard when it comes to the mass media. A lot of the issues that we as college students and concerned humans, revolve around a hazing death or why fraternities and sororities are bad news. That is fantastic for the media, however there is never any highlighting of the massive positive impact that Greek Life can make on a school and the wider community.
What is that impact though? Isn’t Greek life all about partying, drinking and having fun? I use the term ‘fun’ loosely, because that is not the main purpose of going Greek.
Greek Life members are one of the main contributors for community service on a majority of college campuses that support the community. The latest statistics on the North-American Interfraternity Conference, taken off their website, state that fraternity men gave 3.8 million hours back in community service, as well as $20.3 million in philanthropic causes.
The National Panhellic Conference raised over $34 million in philanthropic funds, as well as giving back nearly 2.5 million hours of community service. Last semester, over 800 WVU Greeks took part in the first Big Greek Day of Service in 3 different counties. I would say that is a pretty big difference that Greeks make, and WVU’s Greeks are some of the best. From the very top in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to new members, they do a great job of promoting Greek Life and the multiple benefits it has, as well as assisting Greek Life on a day to day basis. How do I know? I’ve seen it first hand when the WVU Tech Greek executives made the trip to Morgantown.
The piece also stated that “incidents like hazing death, alcohol death, sexual assault, and abuse will continue to happen” if Greek life is kept on campus. Unfortunately, these events happen and it is appalling that they happen. In saying that, how can you say that these event will stop just because Greek Life would be shut down?
All Greek organizations go through risk management training within their own chapters, if not through the school. Here at WVU Tech, all Greeks must go through Bystander Awareness Training so we know what to do if we see something like this happen, as well as how to prevent it and take action if we see it. There are bad apples in every way of life, so why should the whole 1700 strong community be punished because of a few bad people?
If you want to talk about grades and retention, you should have a look at the Greek Life part of the WVU website. It really speaks for itself. I’ll just say this, the all Panhellic Association GPA average was a 3.19. Every chapter bar 1 has at least 80 members. The all Greek GPA was a 2.94 for Fall 2017 and a 3.02 cumulative. Are you going to punish every single one of those members who are helping achieve THAT? WVU’s Greek life are doing a pretty good job of smashing the stereotypes that are put upon then in that regard.
Greek life is not something that people join just because they feel like it. From the minute you become a fraternity man or a sorority woman, you have brothers and sisters that are all over the country and the world. You can lean on these people for jobs, advice or even if you just happen to be around and there is someone from your organization. There is money involved, you get put into positions that help you in the real world. You get exposed to the community, and it is your job to make sure that your organization is in a better spot when you leave. If you shut down the Greek Community at WVU, not only may it affect your satellite campuses, but you affect those thousands of people who benefit from the service and funds donated by those in Greek Life.
Let me hit you with some statistics. The current Vice-President of the United States is a FIJI. According to NJIT, every President and Vice-President bar 2 in each, since 1825 have been a part of the Greek Community. According to the National Panhellic Conference website, the average NPC Grade Point Average was a 3.16 in Spring 2016, with initated members at a 3.26. According to the North American Interfraternity Conference, the all-fraternity GPA was a 2.91, compared to the all-mens GPA of a 2.89. Notable fraternity men include Wilt Chamberlain (basketball), Steve Harvey (entertainer) Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt (US Presidents). Notable sorority women include Joan Polaschik (US Delegate), Alicia Keys (singer), Lucy Lui and Aretha Franklin. I could make list longer than Milan Puskar field of notable alumni who have gone from Greek Life to make a positive impact in this world.
Do we as one WVU want to take this away? Do we want to ruin one of the many highlights of WVU because select individuals muck up? 1700 plus Greek members should not be punished because of a select few. I know multiple Greek members at WVU who love it up there, and love the Greek Community. Greek life is something that should be celebrated. We should promote the great things that Greeks do. We should take action against the few who have caused this halt, and enforce the policies as they should be. We should not be allowing those few bad apples to bring down the whole tree that we know as Greek life.
People have their views, they have their opinions. You can not judge Greek life until you see the other side of it, until you have been involved in it. I am more than willing to make the drive to Morgantown and pay for their dinner, whoever they may be, so we can discuss our views on the Greek community. I would love to talk with President Gee to discuss both sides of this argument, from the perspective of both an RA and as a Greek.
I really do hope the WVU decides to keep Greek life around. I hope that multiple generations after I leave the WVU system can enjoy and prosper in the community that we know as Greek life. I want to be able to come back, many years from now and see that WVU’s Greek Life system is thriving so I can reminisce with the brothers of my era, those who came before me and those who come after me.
In the end, I am only one voice trying to stand up for the Greek Community. I can only do so much. Look into the rest of Greek life and you will see how much this community helps the campus and the community. Look at the people who have come through Greek life and been better off for it. I am begging the WVU administrators, do not shut down an outlet that allows diversity, inclusion and service.
Do not shut down one of the outlets that people on campus have to engage with others. Do not shut down the outlet that gives so much, and asks for little in return. Support the outlet that for nearly 200 years, has helped produced so many quality men and woman. Support us here at WVU Tech who you inevitably might affect if you shut Greeks down. Support the Greek system, and we will prove that we belong. Shut us down, and you lose more than ‘just letters’.