The evolution of a Greek: a Darwinian perspective

Allison Brager

I am a biologist, so naturally, whenever I’m placed in an unfamiliar environment, uninformed of the symbiotic and predatorial relationships, I observe. I scrutinize the habitants, their abodes, social interactions, and mating preferences. One environment I have been anxious to study is none other than Greek life. (In hopes of not offending an ethnologist and those freshmen not up-to-date on college lingo, I am referring to fraternity and sorority life and not the ethnic group I proudly identify with.)

Why begin my observations with Greek life, you ask? While walking to the Student Center to obtain my free copy of The New York Times, I am daily distracted by a phrase that “Barney and Friends: The College Years” would embrace, if there was such a show: “It doesn’t matter what letter, we’re all Greek together.” Also, in gratitude to years of high school calculus, I am able to translate Greek letters emanating from the sidewalks. It is here where Greek life introduced me to the first evolutionary doctrine of the Kent State experience – group acceptance dictates the survival.

Of course, the observations I am about to report would not be statistically significant without a control group, which I naturally chose to be Brown University, my college alma mater often praised in the media for its free love and second generation hippie liberals who value individualism and social variation, quite the opposite of Greek life culture.

My methods were simple. Observe. Travel down Main St. Observe. Travel down Main St. Observe.

So without further anticipation, I present my results from a purely observational perspective that are further accompanied by questions sociologists, geneticists, ecologists, and psychologists would spend years answering.

1. There is no genetic variation, phenotypically – The dominant characteristics of the female population are high heels, hoop earrings, halter and tank tops once rejected from the Victoria Secret’s lingerie line, and my personal favorite, the intellect of someone on “Laguna Beach” or “The Hills.”

Male phenotypic dominance is expressed through muscle shirts, perfectly gelled hair that rivals Ace Ventura’s, and once again, the intellect of a “Laguna Beacher” or “Hiller.”

Questions for the experts: Given this limited genetic variation, how does survival of the fittest exist? How do males select mates? Paper, Scissors, Rocks? Draw straws? Eenne, meenee, minee, mo?

2. The rate of survival, given predators (i.e. cops), is low – Why place one’s abode of social gathering in public’s view and better yet, publicize open alcoholic beverages in front of officers of the law, enticing them to induce incarceration?

3. Social hierarchy does not motivate individuals to thrive – While seniority does exist, (in the form of Big and its grammatically incorrect counterpart, Lil) there is no competition to dethrone the other. It’s all friendly, “You guys are the bestest!”

Taken together, while Bigs and Lils, blonde bombshells, and brains of a “Laguna Beacher,” might work in the Greek world, it certainly doesn’t in Darwin’s.

Allison Brager is a graduate student in the department of biological sciences and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. She is proud of her Greek heritage. [email protected].