In Response to the Thrill City NC Article on the Greek System at UNC

This article is in response to the erroneous statements made in “Paddles & Privileges: Today’s Greek System Does More Harm than Good”, about the problems with the Greek system here at UNC.  Quite frankly, I am a little taken aback by some of the assumptions made in this article and I say assumptions because not one sentence is backed by facts.  I am frustrated and surprised with the anti-Greek sentiment at UNC lately, a place where the students boast of their tolerance for everyone no matter what they are involved in or who they identify themselves as.  I think it is about time that someone stood up for me, my sisters, and everyone else who participates in these organizations.

I want to preface this by saying that I don’t in any way condone the kind of behavior described in this article such as racism or the exploitation of sex.  I have never personally seen a fraternity brother yell an insult such as, “No faggots allowed” or anything mentioned above, but I can guarantee you if I did, you can rest assured something would have been said.  Again, like most people on this campus I expect tolerance and acceptance from all individuals at UNC.  THAT is the Carolina Way.

I also want to point out that I am NOT saying the Greek system is perfect.  I think that statement is inherently false, as it would be to say that any organization on campus is perfect.  There are flaws in any system, just as the human race is naturally flawed.  I will be the first to admit that I poke fun at Greek life and some of my friends who are in various sororities and fraternities, especially when it comes to showing up halfway through our football games.  What can I say? I’m a girl who likes football and supporting my school, but that’s doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of students completely unaffiliated with Greek life who don’t show up halfway through the game or even bother showing up to other sporting events.

Most of this is going to be about sororities since I know a little more about those but here it is:

The Greek system perpetuates and celebrates privilege in an exclusionary way.

Really?  I’m a little confused as to how this statement is true.  Yes, sororities and fraternities have expensive fees however, if you went to the PanHellenic website and looked under the section “Finances” you’d be able to see how much each sorority costs but I’ll go ahead and lay that out here so that it’s easier.  Keep in mind these are yearly dues.

New Member Dues Live Out Members Live In Members
Alpha Chi Omega

$2,445.00

$2,050.00

$4,010.00

Alpha Delta Pi

$1,898.50

$1,819.50

$3,760.50

Chi Omega

$2,150.50

$2,030.50

$3,630.50

Delta Delta Delta

$2,452.00

$2,042.00

$2,750.00

Kappa Delta

$1,982.00

$1,900.00

$3,425.00

Kappa Kappa Gamma

$1,912.00

$1,731.00

$2,973.50

Phi Mu

$2,217.00

$1,932.00

$3,597.00

Pi Beta Phi

$2,598.00

$1,729.50

$4,285.00

Sigma Sigma Sigma

$2,285.50

$2,320.00

$3,688.00

Zeta Tau Alpha

$2,276.00

$1,926.00

$3,383.00

RANGE $1,898.50-$2,598 $1,729.50-$2,320 $2,750-$4,285
AVERAGE

$2,221.65

$1,948.05

$3,550.25

http://www.uncpanhellenic.com/finances/

As you can see every sorority has different costs, some are cheaper, others more expensive.  Most sororities offer three meals a day (breakfast, lunch plus dessert, and dinner plus dessert) so that’s fifteen meals a week.  The meal plans on campus range from $1,175 for the new “Block 100 + $200 Dining Flex” plan to $1,870 for the “unlimited plan”.  The plan with the closest meal count is the “Value 14” worth $1,725 and these numbers are per semester.

http://dining2014.csit.unc.edu/MealPlans/2013-14MealPlans

Sororities (and fraternities) offer the option for their members to live in the house, hence the “Live Out Members and Live In Members” columns above.  However, when you look at the cost of living on campus you’ll notice that each of these options is vastly more expensive.  Double occupancy rooms are $5,756, singles are $6,822, and super suites in Morrison are $6,372 per year.  Does that seem expensive?  Just wait.  Undergraduate apartments in Rams Village and Odum Village range from $6,590 to $7,990 per year.  Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.

http://housing.unc.edu/rates/2013-2014

Having looked at apartments in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area, I have noticed the average price range of apartments was about $500.  So hold on one second… Okay, carry the one, add those numbers… From my calculations it’s actually CHEAPER to live in a sorority house than to live on campus or in an apartment (depending on the sorority).

This isn’t including all of the other benefits of joining a sorority and since it was brought up that joining Greek life didn’t offer the same benefits of say, joining the rowing team, I’ll include this: I know for a fact that Zeta Tau Alpha has intramural sports teams, soccer being one of their best, as do most other sororities and fraternities.  There are multiple girls on the dance team, cheerleaders as well as, girls who participate in equestrian and various other sports teams on campus in Zeta – so I’m guessing they saw something about joining a sorority that was beneficial, but perhaps I’m wrong. I can think of other dance team members and student athletes in other fraternities and sororities as well, but I don’t want to dwell on this for too long.

Not only do fraternities and sororities offer athletic programs for their members to participate in, there are countless and I literally mean countless other ways to get involved.  Zeta Tau Alpha, Kappa Delta, and Alpha Chi Omega to name a few have bible studies that any member can attend.  There are movie nights, ice cream nights, and multiple other bonding activities that really help shape each chapter as a whole and bring about a more united set of friends.  Not to mention the amount of money that is raised per year by fraternities and sororities across the UNC campus.  According to Lauren Watson, a sister in Kappa Kappa Gamma, her sorority works with national and local organizations (as do most sororities and fraternities) to give back to the community.  Specifically they work with Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and earlier.org one of the leading breast cancer testing organizations in the United States, which was founded by a UNC Kappa Alumni.  Collectively, they raised over $8,000 for earlier.org last year as well as, participating in various other community service projects.  Kappa Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha have annual 5K’s to raise money for their philanthropies, Prevent Child Abuse America and Susan G. Komen for the Cure and have raised tens of thousands of dollars for each, yearly.  Not to mention fraternities and sororities have numerous events to raise money for various local service projects such as, the Alpha Chi Omega and Sigma Alpha Epsilon “Chili Cookoff” or “Pickin on Pickard” with Alpha Tao Omega, Lamda Chi Alpha, Alpha Chi Omega, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

Furthermore, the Greek population isn’t solely involved in philanthropy and other services events headed by their chapter, they are overwhelmingly involved in outside organizations.  There are numerous members who are a part of Student Government, Young Democrats, College Republicans, business and service fraternities, campus ministries, music clubs, you name it they’re there.  Suffice it to say, it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot hold leadership roles in these organizations!  What might be surprising to some people, however, is that even with all of the things the Greek population is involved in, they still manage to maintain a higher average GPA than the rest of the university according to the Fraternity and Sorority and Campus Involvement Academic Report!  There’s even a consistent pattern over the last couple semesters. We’re involved and we’re smart? Wow! Who would have thought?

http://ofslci.unc.edu/greeks/reports

I am definitely not from a wealthy family and I’m sure plenty of others people in sororities and fraternities will say the same.  Yes, some people’s parents pay for their dues however, there are multiple men and women in these organizations that pay for their dues themselves.  Unfortunately that information is private, as I’m sure most people understand not wanting others checking in on their financial situation.

Oh, and by the way.  I’m Mexican.  And quite frankly, I can’t think of one instance where I have been treated poorly by any fraternity brother or sorority sister because of my heritage, nor am I offended by the sorority who wore sombrero’s and posted the sign “Mi Casa es Su Casa” outside their house on bid day last year.  There are plenty of ethnic girls in Zeta Tau Alpha, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Chi Omega, and other sororities as well as plenty of non-white fraternity brothers and if you don’t believe me take a look at the girls and guys wearing their shirts around campus because I can promise you, they aren’t all white.

The Greek system is sexist.

I’m not one to be quickly offended by anything, I’m open to a lot of things, but this statement is ludicrous.  Not only does this insinuate that the female Greek population is incapable of making decisions for themselves but it also questions our intelligence.

Do you really think that we all sit around during Recruitment saying “I really liked this girl, she’s so pretty! I want her in my sorority even though she was super rude and hard to talk to!”?  No! Because that simply isn’t what we do!  We look for girls who present themselves in a nice, caring, relatable, and yes, professional manner because THESE are the girls we want representing our letters, our organization, and everything it stands for.  It has nothing to do with whether or not a girl is “attractive” by societal standards.  We are looking for genuine girls that we feel can grow more as women and as sisters in our sorority.  You may call it superficial, I see it as comparable to a job interview.  What was said in this article paints us as stereotypical, Barbie dolls who sit in the mirror everyday playing with our make-up and bad mouthing every girl that walks into the room that doesn’t act and think exactly like us, which I hope EVERYONE is smart enough to realize isn’t the case.

Secondly, do we really strike everyone as being too stupid to decide for ourselves what foods we should and shouldn’t eat, whether we should exercise, or who we should associate with?  We are not “encouraged to stay in shape, implicitly and explicitly”, we are not told what fraternities we should hang out with, and we are most certainly not controlled by the alcohol offered by any fraternity house.  We, and I use we because I hope to be speaking for all of us when I say: We are STRONG, INDEPENDENT and, INTELLIGENT individuals who have come from different heritages, different walks of life, different economic backgrounds, and who are pursuing different goals from other people in our sororities (and fraternities).

It cannot be argued that there are thousands of other individuals unaffiliated with the Greek system on campus who seek out alcohol “as much as” men and women in sororities and fraternities.  However, I would like to point out that there are countless members of the Greek population that don’t drink or have never touched a substance in their life.

As for the degradation of women in sororities based on who they do or don’t have intimate relationships with, I’m curious as to where evidence for this came from.

“The codes of sexual and romantic conduct between sororities and fraternities deprive sorority women of the agency ideally enjoyed by both parties of a romantic relationship” – what a lovely sentiment that once again neglects to realize that we are mentally and physically capable of making rational decisions in terms of our own love lives.

Again, I will restate that I’m not saying their aren’t problems within the Greek system, but maybe we should take a closer look at how we have been shaped by the views of our society and continue from there because there are more pressing concerns regarding these issues that go beyond the scope of fraternity houses.

The Greek System needs to change.

This may be the case, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS room for improvement no matter what organization you’re a part of.  However, I think the most pressing matter here is maybe it isn’t just the Greek system
that needs to be changed.  Maybe, just maybe, there are flaws in our society that aren’t being properly addressed and are being blamed by the Greek system.  Quite frankly, when I look out on the UNC population I see plenty of people doing and saying things that should never be said or done.

I feel privileged to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  There aren’t many other universities in this country, or even the world where you can find the diversity, opportunities, and acceptance that you find here.  Our university prides itself on that and as an entire student body we pride ourselves for this fact, as well.  We make the university, we are one student population.  Why do we constantly feel the need to divide ourselves between the Greeks and the non-Greeks?  We are ALL Tar Heels and we should learn to act like Tar Heels, follow the example that we wish to portray to people outside our university, and show compassion and understanding to all students regardless of what club they join or how they identity as a person.

The Greek system needs to change, yes, but more importantly I think the student body at Chapel Hill needs to change, as well.

Lea Palmer, Editor CRDaily

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