Sometimes, when a man puts on the letters of a fraternity, or a woman bears the letters of her sorority, people look and see different things.
Members of their organizations see brothers and sisters. Other Greeks see representatives. Some see no change, while a select few see better men and women. Today, many look at letters and don’t see people, only monsters.
Throughout the past few years, Greek organizations have had to deal with increasing amounts of suspicion and fear. This feeling is not unwarranted. Since the very beginning of its existence, Greek life has seen hundreds of fraternities and sororities be the subject of major news headlines across the entire country. Hazing scandals, explicit instances of racism, alcohol and drug related deaths, sexual abuse—the list of terrible actions committed by various organization continues on.
So yes, it is understandable that Greek organizations are policed the way they are, and it should be that way. The organizations, which are managed by young men and women in the largest period of growth in their lives, should be aware and constantly reminded of the potential dangers and the consequences of some of their actions. Additionally, the abused should know that they have the power to speak out against their aggressors.
Greek life should be supervised and managed carefully, but this doesn’t mean that every Greek member across the nation should be looked upon with disdain.
There is a good chunk of the population at NJIT that see the letters and compare every organization to the fraternities and sororities seen on the news. What that means is that, regardless of the people that were before they pledged, be it friends, a boyfriend or girlfriend, brother or sister; they only see the letters. The boy who went in is no longer the same attentive, dedicated friend, and is instead someone else entirely.
This is perhaps what Greek life is most known for—party culture, and every offense by different organizations is constantly exposed to the public. However, that culture is just one of many sides of Greek life, which include philanthropy, brotherhood/sisterhood, community service, and academia. This absolutely does not excuse the known problems of Greek life, but it does present the other side of the coin, and the other argument.
Greeks are people too, and the goodness—and inversely, their wrongs—are not negated by the pledging of an organization. That sweet boy or that smart girl will likely not become a stereotype or a statistic.
Distrust is fine and all. Human beings excel when we learn from the mistakes and misfortunes of others—in this case from the news dealing with the aftermath of a terrible decision. That being said, not immediately jumping to conclusions about people in Greek life should be a common courtesy.
Ultimately, the way you treat others should follow your prerogative, but don’t condemn a person that is right in front of you because of the actions of someone across the country. Men and women work hard for their letters; let each prove him or herself as a person because they can.