Greeks need not fear The Daily

Libby Nelson

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Tuesday marked the end of sorority recruitment, a weeklong process that ended with singing, chanting and elation from more than 400 young women.

And that’s about all you’ll learn about the process and its implications from The Daily, or any other campus media organization.

Sorority recruitment is mostly a mystery to the 60 percent of Northwestern students unaffiliated with a fraternity or sorority. The Panhellenic Association and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life seem determined to keep it that way.

Reporters were kept out of the bid-giving part of Bid Night, sent to the wrong door as the new members left the building where they received their bids and called “cruel” for trying to get quotes from hundreds of excited girls. When explaining why the event was closed, Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Jenni Glick said it was to eliminate outsiders and have an atmosphere “where we can control it a little bit more.”

What kind of bad press were they afraid of? Openness to the media wouldn’t hurt the sororities’ closely guarded image. Instead, it might give those of us outside the Greek system a better picture of how much it means to its members.

This year’s potential new members took a week out of their hectic schedules to trek around in the rain – and snow – in high heels, hoping to make a good impression on the sororities of their choice. On Bid Night, when their Greek fates are revealed, women scream and jump up and down and run through the snow to their houses. Some cry. Last year, one set off a fire alarm by lighting an unwanted bid on fire.

Obviously, this process, and its outcome, means a lot to these young women. The few potential new members who do talk to The Daily are universally positive. So are the few chapter members who are willing to speak. Their quotes are brochure-ready, all about dreams and goals and sisterhood.

Does Panhel really think that if they were allowed to talk to the media, the new members who gave up a week of their lives to this process would suddenly start spitting venom? In an age where a few rowdy Facebook photos might imperil your job prospects, would underclassmen who sincerely care about what Greek letters will go on their t-shirts, flip-flops and tote bags dish to The Daily about the negatives of the recruitment process, knowing their quotes would appear for their new “sisters” to see?

Not likely.

The resulting article might not win a prize, but it certainly wouldn’t be bad press. And it would be a great improvement over the closed-door policy that makes the Greek system off-limits to outside observers.

The Daily doesn’t hate Greek life. Many of our writers and editors belong to sororities. On chapter nights last year, the newsroom would empty out.

We’re just frustrated with the lack of access that keeps an important part of NU life behind closed doors for no good reason.

The fraternities allowed The Daily much more access to their recruitment activities. Though we didn’t attend the now-infamous wrestling night at Delta Upsilon, reporters and photographers got to interact with new members at other fraternities throughout recruitment. The quotes were about what you’d expect: Current members were excited about the pledge class, the pledge class was excited about the fraternity. There were a few shots of young men playing poker or shoving pie in each other’s faces.

Maybe it wasn’t the stuff of great journalism. But it went a lot further toward telling the story about how important the Greek system is to campus life.

– Libby NelsonCampus Editor

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