Manfull: In defense of Greeks

BY ERIN MANFULL | MARCH 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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With five fraternities suspended last week alone, it goes without saying that it’s been an embarrassing week for Greek life.

For full disclosure, I am personally involved in Greek life at the University of Iowa. In my years with a sorority, I have never once felt hazed, discriminated, or even unsafe — however, with recent events unfolding surrounding Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon racist chant or the horrifying photos of unresponsive women at Penn State, it’s hard to see or understand that not every Greek chapter is racist, or hazes, or is actually that cruel.

The recent events unfolding are without a doubt unacceptable, disguising, and absolutely appalling, but in a time like this, where good news is in dire need, many turn a blind eye to all the good that comes from Greek chapters.

It’s hard to separate a single chapter from the entire Greek organization, especially for people who are not involved in the Greek community themselves, but each chapter is different, and each chapter expects different things from their members. A Kappa Delta from a Southern university is definitely going to be different from a Kappa Delta from a small college. Sure, the general premise is the same, as far as a chapter ritual goes, but each chapter is unique in their traditions and ways.

Some have been grouping all Greek communities together, crying for the removal of chapters from universities across the nation. Even former USC Delta Tau Delta member Will Ferrell said today’s fraternities and sororities are “really about creating cliques and being exclusionary,” but I think he’s wrong.

Fraternities and sororities are designed to create the feeling of belonging, finding a brotherhood or sisterhood that soon becomes family. The UI Sigma Nu exemplified the bond between them early this semester when tragedy struck not once but twice within a matter of days. With one member being diagnosed with stage three brain cancer and another falling 40 feet and suffering severe head trauma and possible brain damage while in Rome, the Sigma Nus came together to create two separate GoFundMe campaigns to help raise money for the two men’s families.

The representation of a single incident (albeit heinous) at Oklahoma, shouldn’t reflect upon all of the millions of members of Greek chapters throughout the nation. There has been, and sadly always will be that one person or group of people who end up tarnishing the image of the whole, but since the creation of fraternities and sororities some of the world’s most prominent people have had ties to the Greek life. Katie Couric, Ashton Kutcher (go Hawks), Michael Jordan, Jon Stewart, Condoleezza Rice, not to mention majority of Fortune 500 CEOs have all pledged to a Greek chapter.

The most important message I hope to get across, is that it goes back to the basics: Don’t judge a book by its cover. A freshman in Oklahoma does not define a national organization, and although the comments of one might be horrifying, it does not reflect on the whole.

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