Controversy over greek system brough to public through debate


The controversy surrounding greek life was brought into the public sphere in a debate in Peeler Auditorium Thursday night. This event hoped to spark campus-wide conversation on the qualities and problems of greek life.
"Mostly it's discussed behind closed doors; it's very rare to come talk about it in a public setting," junior Ronnie Kennedy said when he began the debate.
Debate Society faculty adviser Geoff Klinger opened the event. Senior Jimmy Kirkpatrick, Debate Society president, moderated. The debaters were split up into government and opposition teams, and each debater gave a timed response.
Some of the problems addressed were alcohol and sexual violence in fraternities. It's no secret that the current freshman class produced the largest number of hospital transports in DePauw's history. How much of an influence Greek life had on this situation was one of the points debated.
"Greek culture romanticizes alcohol in a unique way," Kennedy said, citing instances of upperclassmen influence at parties and what is subsequently perceived to be status quo behavior in fraternities.
Others believe that the spike in alcohol consumption doesn't appear to correlate to Greek culture.
"There are more hospital visits, but greek life is shrinking," freshman Matt Piggins said. "Alcohol use is rising, but it doesn't seem to be connected."
Members of fraternities and sororities record higher GPAs according to Piggins. But they are far more likely to be distracted by alcohol, sophomore Alex Parker said.  Twenty-five percent of independents say they are distracted from their schoolwork by alcohol, but the percentage was half of that of greeks.
 In addition, 70-90 percent of rapes on college campuses occur within fraternities. 
"Although there are benefits to greek life, it needs to be about brotherhood," Parker said. "There needs to be a complete transformation in conversations. The topics need to go away from alcohol and sexual violence."
Alcohol and sexual violence could also be viewed as a culture problem. The party environment of schools without greek systems and the consumption of alcohol in bars also have high risk environments.
"Rapes are not mutually exclusive to fraternities," freshman Mickey Terlep, said.
The greek life members are more likely to become distracted by alcohol an irrelevant argument.
"Numbers prove that greeks have higher GPAs on campus and around the country," Terlep said. "So the academia argument doesn't hold."
Klinger said he thought greek life "seemed like the greatest system in the world" while he was at college, but as a parent his perspective changed.
"Alcohol is a very serious issue on college campuses," Klinger said. "All kinds of partying takes place...I'm also concerned about the misogyny issue."
This event hoped to spark campus-wide conversation on the qualities and problems of greek life.