Avoiding the trap of the Greek elitist

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As we proceed in our life journeys, we will face many forks in the road. At DePauw, Greek life is one of those major forks. Joining a fraternity or sorority is an important decision because it can shape the rest of your college experience. By choosing one house over the others, you are prearranging who you’ll be around these next three and a half years. Presumably, your brothers or sisters will be your lifelong friends, and those relationships are certainly significant. As the saying goes: “You show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” 

As great as Greek life can be, I am here to tell you that it can also be a trap. Greek life isn’t a trap in the sense that you are stuck in an unfavorable situation. It’s a trap in the sense that it will start to change the way you think about DePauw before you can even realize it. You begin to limit your social life to the context of your house, and you start justifying assumptions about those in other houses. Greek life can harbor animosity and elitism, but it doesn’t have to.

Greek affiliation does not indicate a person’s worth, despite what the stereotypes may suggest. These stereotypes are fairly well drawn, and some would maintain that these stereotypes are accurate. I don’t care about the stereotypes, and I believe you—the future Greek members on this campus—shouldn’t care either.

When we see Greek letters and roll our eyes, we are limiting the potential of that entire house.  We are putting them in a box. We assume we know everything worth knowing about them because they are in “that” kind of house. This kind of attitude is arrogant and ignorant.

Greek rivalries exist not because of any actual difference in ideals but instead because of fixed mindsets. DePauw is full of smart, ambitious people. This statement is so true that it’s become a platitude. I truly believe a high percentage of all the students on this campus are good people. We are all in college, earning an education and bettering ourselves. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you don’t have to judge them either.

For those of us in Greek houses already, we often are ready to defend our own. We know our brothers and sisters so well, and we know of what they are capable. We’ve seen the best and worst in them, and that makes us believe in them even more. But imagine if that same person you defended instead joined another house. Would you judge him or her because of what that house represents? Chances are that you would be able to get along with a lot of people if they joined your house or vice-versa. That willingness to accept someone is one of the greatest lessons of a Greek experience. 

With each new class, a new set of values and perspectives will follow. Chapter houses are meant to evolve. That’s why it’s common to hear about certain houses being completely different back in the day. Plus, the name of the Greek house isn’t even that important. What is important are the people. Don’t get caught up in the stereotypes; don’t let the drama take over your life. Greek problems simply will not exist for us once we graduate. Instead, think about the people you want to be around. Think about who you want to become. 

 

Weilhammer is a senior English Writing major from Indianapolis, IN