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The George Washington University, located in the nation’s capital, recently unveiled new statutes in an effort to crackdown on off campus parties and underage drinking. The problem with these new sanctions is that they do not apply to the student body at large, but rather, only members of the Greek community.
The university stated that they will collect the off campus address of every student belonging to a fraternity or a sorority and create an online complaint form for neighbors to report any disturbances. Rather than receive a noise complaint from the city’s metropolitan police, students will face university disciplinarian actions, despite living off campus. Additionally, GW is encouraging the Foggy Bottom community to record video footage of any student parties and hand the material over to school officials.
The university will hold mandatory meetings for members of Greek life in late August, as well as require said students to participate in online courses speaking to the new disciplinary changes. Students refusing to participate will have a hold placed on his or her account, preventing them from registering for classes.
GW stated that these new sanctions are in an effort to appease and work with the university’s neighbors, many of whom are older, working professionals. This claim, unfortunately, loses all credibility over the fact that not all students are being treated (and come fall, disciplined) equally.
The new rules are aimed solely at members of Greek life, falsely and offensively implying that students belonging to a fraternity or sorority are somehow degenerates who must be kept on a tighter disciplinary leash than students belonging to other organizations. To describe these sanctions as anything other than a witch-hunt would be a vast and an unacceptable minimization.
For years now, our lawmakers and university officials have attempted a widely swept crackdown on the Greek community. Movies such as Animal House and Old School offer humorous glimpses into the most outrageous and extreme spectrum of Greek life, yet outsiders run with these depictions, thinking no more of Greek life than keg parties and rowdy behavior. When in reality, this could not be further from the truth.
Yes, members of fraternities and sororities throw parties, but so do students who do not identify with any letters. At some point, however, someone decided that every collegiate problem stemmed from those identifying with Greek life, and colleges across the country ran with it.
It truly is unfortunate, this disdain that many outsiders seem to have for fraternities and sororities — unfortunate and unfair. Rarely, if ever, are stories of philanthropic events or successful fundraisers covered. The media doesn’t care that the GW chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha raised over $80,000 for burn victims last year during their annual ‘Fireman’s Challenge’ event, or that the Sigma Chi chapter raised a near equivalent for Children’s Miracle Network through their Derby Days events. It isn’t reported when members of Kappa Kappa Gamma go to inner-city elementary schools to mentor students, or that nearly thirty girls in the chapter participated in D.C.’s Walk MS in support of the father of one of the sisters who is currently battling the illness. But I suppose these stories don’t fit into the media’s idea of Greek life.
This anti-Greek epidemic is unacceptable, and it is tragic. These Draconian crackdowns enforced by colleges and universities nationwide will do nothing but prevent future members from joining, though that is arguably their goal.
From the outside looking in, Greek life cannot be understood, but that does not mean that it should be feared. Statistically speaking, 71% of members of sororities and fraternities will graduate from college, compared to only 50% of those who do not identify with an organization. Members of Greek life make up the largest group of volunteers in the country. All but two presidents have belonged to a fraternity. 76% of U.S. Senators were a member of a sorority or fraternity. And 85% of Fortune 500 CEOs belonged to Greek Organizations.
We’re not monsters, we’re not drunks, and we’re not criminals. We are leaders. We are upstanding citizens. We are not to be feared. Rather than alienate this community, colleges and universities should be embracing it. The time has come to stop tarnishing the reputation of the Greek community. Respect us, and we’ll respect you.
Image via Bloomsberg Businessweek