Letters to the Editor / The Drawing Board

Greek system isn’t quite so terrible as Sherman claims

Mike Sherman’s Tuesday column started by saying he appreciated the Greek system, but then I got the distinct feeling that he was — dare I say it — being sarcastic. That couldn’t be! Perhaps Mike needs a hug, so if you’re standing next to him right now, turn, and embrace the man. He has a Super Big Gulp-size of built-up resentment with a side of insecurity he needs to get off his chest. So far we know Mike smokes pot, has off-campus parties, watches Girls Gone Wild and probably comes from white suburbia — how different does he think he is from a guy in a frat house?

Nothing is more entertaining picking up The Daily and reading an accurate portrayal of myself, for I am in a fraternity. You would think just yesterday’s pass-out-capades, female assault training, ergonomic restackment of my mattress made of money, and resharpening of my horns would have left me so exhausted I could not write this letter. Categorizing all fraternity members as rich pricks, gang rapists and trashy idiots is as accurate as me saying all independents cry themselves to sleep every night dreaming of exacting Ted Kaczynski-like revenge on the world.

I won’t say the Greek system is perfect or even good. Lord knows I’ve thought about deactivating several times this past year. But look in the closets of those who consistently raise money and donate their time to Dance Marathon, Suitcase Party, Special Olympics and other charities — you’ll probably notice a large amount of T-shirt spoofs with Greek letters on them. What brings me back to chapter meeting on Mondays is that I find most of the people surrounding me to be interesting, and maybe I wouldn’t have met them if I had not joined my fraternity.

Going Greek is a decision everyone needs to make for themselves. By joining a fraternity or sorority you won’t throw away your non-Greek friends or personal identity, nor will you suddenly become cool and desirable to the opposite sex. You’ll still be you. I don’t pretend to speak for my fraternity, let alone the entire fraternity system; I speak for myself as an individual with his own opinions, value system and distaste for immature caricatures.

Ricky Udell

Weinberg senior

Zeta Beta Tau member

Arrogant cheer dates from football team’s losing streak

I agree, much of the culture of Northwestern is pompous, arrogant and, yes, pretentious. I’m a guy who likes Wilco, thinks the new Flaming Lips album is the greatest thing since the awesome second Promise Ring album and might even be able to explain what “postmodernism” is. I know pretentious. Hell, I’m responding to a letter preceded by someone bitching about NU’s wireless networking.

I learned about pride in NU from being in NU Marching Band. In my association with NUMB alums, I’ve met many who remember when NU students got into games for free and the stadium was called Dyche by everyone.

In this context, people complaining about the state school cheer need to grab their ears and pull their heads out of their tight asses.

While at NU, I often felt embarrassed when people made it a big deal that I went here — I didn’t want them to think I felt I was better than them — anyone going through college is doing something really challenging.

But there was something about NU that made it more difficult than other schools. Chanting “state school” was one of the only times I could blatantly acknowledge that I went to a prestigious university and be proud of it. And if you think our cheers are bad, you should hear the versions of “Go U Northwestern” other Big Ten schools sing.

Cheers such as “state school,” “That’s all right, that’s OK, you’ll all work for us someday” and “We won the toss! We won the toss!” are relics from a time when the team didn’t win for four years straight. You know the keys we jingle during kickoffs? I’m told the implication is that someday we’ll be riding in the back while people from those other schools chauffeur us around.

Now we live in a time when gay and lesbian students still are afraid to live in many NU dorms, NU is getting rid of campus green space faster than you can say “corporate sellout” and you can still tell that the Evanstonian you see walking down the street is a student by the deer-in-headlights, how-will-I-make-it-through-this-semester look on his or her face.

And you’re worried about a cheer that celebrates and acknowledges the difficulty of NU? Get a clue.

Jim Withington

Education ’00