Opinion: Ignorance breeds contempt: A response to “Greek life needs an overhaul”

Miranda Marinello

It’s undeniable that student media has an incredible influence on college campuses across the country.

But does it provide an accurate representation of the current climate on campus?

Matthew Olienechak’s recent opinion piece on Greek life makes the fair point changes need to be made in the community. His point, however, is buried under layers of misinformation and accusations, which infantilize the community by implying the responsibility for reform falls to universities and alumni rather than members of the organizations.

Universities and alumni are not responsible for guiding a chapter. Each chapter of organizations on campus is a brotherhood or sisterhood of their own. Each chapter is guided by their national offices, but each chapter is responsible for their members and actions.

To point your finger at the community and demand that it proves its worth to you is an accusation that shows how little you know about a community.

First of all, hazing is an issue in all student organizations, from sports teams to marching bands, not just fraternities and sororities. I do agree it’s completely unacceptable not only because it’s inhumane and dangerous, but because members of Greek life know better.

Fraternities and sororities are required to go through education programs regarding topics such as hazing, sexual assault and alcohol safety to promote a safe, healthy community. I agree a community so informed should be held to a higher standard.

Greek life reform will not end the hazing epidemic and making the community a scapegoat to ignore society’s greater issues won’t solve anything.

Olienechak mentioned alumni “often resist any attempts to change it for the better,” which is inaccurate, to say the least. Many organizations have strict policy against alumni influencing decisions of chapter leadership. Alumni are not permitted to attend a majority of chapter events because it’s not about them anymore.

They had their time as active members, but they are no longer running the show. When we say, “It’s not for four years, it’s for life,” we mean that no matter how long it’s been since graduation, one is expected to be an upstanding citizen who exemplifies the values our letters represent.

As for university administration regulating actions of fraternities and sororities, I ask you to speak to the Fraternity and Sorority Life at Kent State and its faculty members, Dennis Campbell and Dasha Harris.

Campbell and Harris will no doubt explain their active roles in assisting the community to fundraise and recruit, but will also go on to explain that university faculty are not the puppet masters of the sizable portion of students who make up the Greek community at Kent.

Each chapter answers to its national headquarters, but overall each chapter answers to itself. A chapter makes its own bylaws and recruits its own members. Members organize every philanthropy event, retreat, community service activity and social event. The community’s efforts are focused on philanthropy, but campus administration does not decide the fate of national organizations.

You ask: What could be done? What can be done to turn Greek life into a community of educated adults with a sense of charity? What can our omnipotent university administration do for our nation plagued with these dangerous irresponsible and violent cults clad in strange symbols?

Perhaps start with researching a community before asking what they bring to the table.

Fraternity and sorority life extends beyond the highly publicized fundraising and scandals. Each organization has minimum GPA requirements and resources within chapters, such as education committees and study groups. There are leadership workshops, networking opportunities, scholarship opportunities and more.

Maybe then you’d realize fraternity and sorority life is already full of well-educated adults who value community and service to others.

Miranda Marinello is a guest columnist. Contact her at [email protected].