I understand — and largely agree — with students’ issues regarding Greek life, and these positions have forced me to have serious internal debates about my involvement. I, along with many in my Phi Delta Theta pledge class, take these issues very seriously and I have been extremely impressed with the level of open dialogue between us regarding Greek life and what we represent.
The reason I write today, however, is because last week, The Rock was vandalized after Phi Delt pledges painted it. I find this problematic for several reasons, the first being basic respect. In case you were unaware, paint and materials are not cheap. Other pledges and I spent nearly 26 hours of our time guarding and subsequently, painting. This experience was enjoyable, but I find it disappointing that the hard work, time and effort of everyone is being disrespected.
If the intention was to critique Greek life, I would be completely fine if someone guarded The Rock immediately after us and painted a disapproving message 24 hours later. I can’t imagine the reaction throughout campus if fraternity members painted The Rock without guarding it, especially if they chose to be destructive and vandalized the previous group’s work. If we’re going to move campus-wide understandings and considerations about the advantages and downsides of Greek life forward, it’s essential that both sides start with basic respect for one another. Acting as if you’re above the rules and vandalizing The Rock “in secret” at night doesn’t do that.
This brings me into the final — and most important — issue I have with these actions: how it impacts campus dialogue surrounding Greek life. Throughout the past few quarters, many well-thought-out, persuasive criticisms of fraternities and sororities have been presented on campus — and many of us take them very seriously. But vandalizing The Rock seems to stem from the belief that the best way to change Greek life is by ruining a harmless activity.
I ask those involved to consider whether these actions will help truly promote change in Greek life or simply deepen divides. Personally, I know the vandalism has made me — someone who agreed with the concerns about Greek organizations — feel increasingly antagonistic. If the goal is truly to change the culture on campus, driving wedges between people can’t be the mechanism for doing so. In the future, I hope these opportunities are used to approach us and discuss the issues in-person. Many of us in Greek life are more open-minded and committed to changing it for the better than you might expect, but we’ll only be able to move forward once both sides can come together in a greater dialogue.
Gus Haffner, Weinberg freshman