Letter to the Editor: The Pseudo Knitting Club explains itself

First off, we do apologize for our initial act; it was a bit much, no? But we would like to take this opportunity to explain ourselves, and in so doing, hopefully spur the reflection and dialogue that have proven invaluable in shifting outdated norms. Our initial act was not meant to widen the gaps between us, but violently shake them into shifting closer. Now we want to talk.

The mission statements, visions and guiding principles of institutions are their backbones. They are what fill any group with the clairvoyance of determined pursuit in the achievement of a higher purpose. When institutions become out of line with their mission statements, they lose their purpose and become vulnerable to the desires of the individuals within them.

An institution that has as many participants as the Interfraternity Council can and should be working towards something much greater than itself. Not all fraternities are “bad,” but we must remain cognizant of our current state of affairs in order to move forward. This letter is not meant to berate, scold or look down on anyone. We hope that you remain truthful with yourselves, and with others, in an effort to objectively implant the diction of this letter into the context of NU’s modern campus.

One IFC fraternity mission statement concludes: “…set the standard of integrity, intellect, and achievement for our members, host institutions, and the communities in which we live.” How are standards set within communities? What measures “integrity, intellect, and achievement” and who determines the standard for anyone but themselves? Another mission statement states that its members are “Committed to Lives of Excellence.” But at the cost of whom? What is “excellence” and how far does this “commitment” go?

The “vision” of another fraternity states that “shared experiences allow us to succeed in our careers and relationships.” Would these “careers and relationships” be more successful and prone to growth if these “experiences” were shared with everyone? Is success in a rapidly changing America obtained through isolation by vote? The mission statement of this same fraternity describes “a legacy built on acceptance and trust.” Acceptance of whom? How does one go about becoming “accepted?” What are the means to this end?

Another fraternity credo states, “We believe that the development of the individual as a responsible, mature member of society is the primary goal of the university.” Who determines the “primary goal” of the university? Is one institution’s belief stronger than the beliefs of the individuals that exist alongside it? This credo continues, “we believe that fraternity offers to the university community a unique, desirable and successful means of achieving this goal.” Unique in what way? A desirable means to all of the university community? Successful for whom?

These questions are not to anger you, but to spur introspection. These questions are prompts for the conversations that have existed on the margins of our campus. These questions deserve answers, and answers that do not result in the perpetuation of the status quo. Northwestern’s mission statement, per the Office of the Provost, reads, “Northwestern is committed to excellent teaching, innovative research, and the personal and intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community.” Are fraternities giving Northwestern students the most “diverse academic community?”

The Pseudo Knitting Club believes that the answer to this question is for all of us to decide.

Gordon Dunbar and Jesse Zhou
SESP sophomore and Communication sophomore