College is an exciting time. Your college years are a time of growth, change, and personal discovery. Of course all of that growth and discovery and whatnot will yield its fair share of mistakes, and that’s okay. Besides, one day those mistakes will make for very funny stories. You’ll look back and laugh at the night you came to the undeniable conclusion that you should no longer be allowed to drink Rumple Minze to excess, and you’ll surely have a good chuckle when you remember the time you thought marketing was a real major worth pursuing. Or, if you’re a tireless, obnoxious busy body in the making, your mistake might be the time you took up a completely pointless cause and made a big fuss about it simply because you felt like taking up a cause and making a big fuss about it.
Enter Swarthmore University sophomore Joyce Wu, crusader for all things unimportant:
Following last month’s petition for a referendum, controversy, and subsequent campus-wide discussions about the future of Swarthmore’s Greek life, Joyce Wu ’15, founder of the first petition, has created a second petition on the matter. The new petition, which received 172 signatures — well over the required 10 percent needed to present it to Student Council — consists of a proposition for a referendum with six questions, only one of which calls for abolishing Swarthmore’s Phi Psi, Delta Upsilon, and Kappa Alpha Theta. The other five questions concern making Swarthmore’s DU and Theta separate from their national chapters (Phi Psi already is not affiliated with a national organization); accepting all genders to sororities and fraternities; making the fraternity houses substance-free; merging the Greek spaces into one building; and having no campus space specifically for Greek life.
Obviously Swarthmore is not a big school, nor does it have a storied history of Greek life on its campus, so to hear that there is anti-Greek sentiment at Swarthmore is about as surprising as finding out that a Lena Dunham shaped sex doll is the new mascot for Oberlin College. In fact, until recently, there weren’t even any sororities present at Swarthmore. Kappa Alpha Theta just re-colonized at the school, and it was Theta’s re-colonizing that led to all the anti-Greek uproar at Swarthmore in the first place. Students bemoaned Theta’s re-colonization, claiming that sororities are gender exclusive clubs that promote inequality! Because…well…BECAUSE! No word on if the Swarthmore women’s basketball team is going to be disbanded, by the way.
In an ironic twist, and I mean like HILARIOUSLY ironic, Theta was allowed to open a chapter on campus because of Title IX. You know Title IX, right? That law that seeks to promote gender equality in schools by offering the same opportunities for men and women. There were fraternities, so Swarthmore decided that there should be a sorority as well.
It’s things like this that make me indescribably happy that I did not attend a small liberal arts college. I don’t care if their endowment is nearly $1.5 billion or if the school is as “highly selective” as their Wikipedia page claims. There are annoying look-at-me-I’m-making-a-difference-but-mostly-I-just-want-you-to-look-at-me wannabe activists at every university, but at least at big schools their useless bullshit gets lost in the noise. Because of that, (usually) only the causes worth campaigning for gain any serious traction. At a school like Swarthmore, however, where the enrollment is only 1,500 or so, incredibly dumb movements like Wu’s anti-fraternity petition get noticed.
So let’s break down the changes the petition suggests:
1) Abolishing Greek Life at Swarthmore
I wonder how open minded Wu and the other students potentially in favor of abolishing Greek life consider themselves to be? They’re annoying geeds at a liberal arts school, so I imagine they have a certain built in amount of smugness about what they consider to be their “open-mindedness.”
“I think we should have lots of different organizations on campus. You know, lots of unique and fun ways for students to get involved, oh except the ones that I don’t like, even if other people do, in fact, like them. Because…well…BECAUSE!” – Open Minded Swarthmore Student
There are arguments being made that this is a safety issue, but unless I’m missing something that has gone unreported, Swarthmore’s two fraternities have been basically on the straight and narrow. No hazing charges, no sexual assault. There hasn’t been so much as a burned sofa. So tell me again why it’s necessary to get rid of or drastically alter Greek Life at the school? Oh, right, because you feel like it.
2) Forcing DU and Theta to disaffiliate from their national offices.
That’s a pretty shitty thing to do to two organizations trying to improve your school, at no cost to your school.
3) Accepting all genders to sororities and fraternities.
This essentially accomplishes both numbers 1 and 2. The national organizations won’t allow members of the opposite sex into their chapters, and fraternities aren’t really fraternities, nor sororities really sororities, when they become co-ed. Okay but seriously, after this Swarthmore’s going to combine all their sports teams next, right? Man, I bet one of the girls that gets to play on the men’s basketball team is going to feel SUPER empowered when an opposing player drags his nutsack across her face on the way up to the rack for dunk, Vince Carter style.
4) Making the fraternity houses substance free.
Considering that this happens at schools large and small across the country, it’s a relatively rational request compared to the others. Besides, we all know that when you say substance free house it’s done while making the most over-exaggerated air quotes possible.
5) Merging the Greek spaces into one building.
I’m not sure what the set up is now, but forcing the fraternities to leave their houses seems like a gigantic, unfair, and inconsiderate imposition. I mean, it’s just stupid. Seriously, who wrote this piece of shit? A 20-year-old? Oh…wait…
6) Having no campus space specifically designated for Greek Life.
I’m not sure what the fraternity house situation is at Swarthmore currently, as in who owns the houses (the school, the local chapters, or nationals), but this would only make sense to me if the school owned the housing, and if every single other club was also denied the right to have a specific space.
Essentially this is all pretty stupid, and I hope none of this passes, and that no compromise is reached.
Lastly, here’s a tip for all you annoying, budding activists out there: Inventing a problem is not the same as identifying one.
[via The Swarthmore Phoenix]