Ignorance is Not Bliss

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To the Editor:

This letter is in response to Kerin Anne McGinness’s article entitled “Sororities: Prudent Premise and Priorities?” I feel there needs to be A RESPONSE, or, more importantly, an explanation. Unrightfully, accusations and stereotypes were made against the sorority system on this campus. As President of the Panhellenic Council, which governs all sororities, there needs to be some clarification. The entire Greek System is based upon traditional values and rituals that have been passed on for decades. We are indeed a minority on campus; however, it is not as selective as one might perceive. You choose us. Anyone can be a Greek. It is a matter of investigating each house to see if that particular group has something to offer you. The Greek System gathers for social endeavors, community service and academic recognition. We even have an entire day devoted to team participation, called “Greek Games,” which is centered around Greek Unity and is held to raise money for various charities. It ranges from a week of football tournaments for both men and women to tug-of-war. We are an integrated system that focuses on both individual and group development.

Not just at UVM, but at many colleges and universities all over the country, there are students who are foreign to the system and therefore a bit intimidated by the Greeks. These students pass judgments. It is unfair to be prejudiced so I will be glad to educate the student body about the functions and ideas around sororities. Apparently it is necessary for a little history lesson, because this is the second time that this issue has been publicly brought up, and printed, in the past two years.

The early sororities developed in the late 1800s as a function of social survival in a sexist society. “Even in their earliest days, the societies existed to fulfill a social as well as an intellectual function in the students’ lives. As the years progressed, the literary societies began to join together to sponsor various social activities and other forms of entertainment such as skit contests, theme parties, picnics and dinner gatherings. The groups also planned monthly or biweekly meetings in which they discussed various courses of study, elected new officers and participated in political and intellectual debates. By 1914, the literary societies had formed a federation that organized school celebrations and coordinated campus beautification efforts” (History of Sororities of the LBJ Student Center web-page). The basis of the community service of today’s sororities came from this premise.

The Greek System teaches values and maintains a type of democratic order within a student body. Through Greek activities you can learn a lot about leadership, organization, fundraising and teamwork. No matter your race, religion or sexual preference, anyone is welcome to join and visit any of our houses. Bill Tickner, past SGA President and Greek Man of the Year, campaigned about an overwhelmingly positive response to coming out to his fraternity, and to being an openly gay member of a fraternity. Greeks emphasize a sense of acceptance and togetherness. Throughout the United States and Canada, there is a positive view on being Greek. “There is opportunity to meet students on neighboring campuses, to visit their chapter houses, and possibly to hold social events together. Sororities provide something in common with groups of young women on other campuses and bring them together” (The University of British Columbia).

In response to Ms. McGinness’ questions, many girls bring their non-Greek friend to Rush, and many decide to join. Each house is generous and each shares national Panhellenic laws, but EACH HOUSE HAS a different decorum. For example, Delta Delta Delta and Alpha Chi Omega are independent of each other, but they are ultimately affiliated by the Panhellenic Council and by our understanding of being Greek.

As for our supposed “mundane opinions,” you should come to spring rush and truly explore what we are about. Consider stopping a girl wearing her letters on her “bathrobe” in the dorms, and talk to her. Ask her questions about being in a sorority. As a young adult acquiring an education here, we are all bound by that principle. No one judges us by our discrepancies. If fact, we embrace them.

Any girl who cannot afford to pay her dues we devise payment plans for. These plans are confidential.

As for the rules while living in the house, like “no boys sleeping over,” they are made out of respect for the other sisters that live together with her. All sororities recognize that not every female is comfortable waking up with a boy in her room. Traditional rules are important to maintain within sororities. Preservation is a virtue that leads to progress.

Again, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am willing to discuss your opinions further. My email address is [email protected] The Greek System, Fraternity or Sorority, is something everyone should be involved with. Of the many things the system provides, some include leadership, friendship and responsibility. Now, I am not going to lie-everyone is not best friends, but hey, I am sure you understand. If I threw you into a room with 75 other females, I don’t think you’d be holding hands and singing Kumbaya either. But, as a senior, being Greek has been one of the most rewarding experiences I will leave UVM with. Being Greek reminds you that you can do everything you ought to do.