By Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor
When looking at F&M and its social life, it is inevitable that the topic of Greek life is going to come into question. A majority of the student body is involved in fraternity or sorority life, and for good reason. Greek life is an aspect of college that can bring out the best in people. Yes, national Greek organizations provide students with networks for post-graduate opportunities. But more importantly, they teach students the value of friendship, understanding, dedication, and acceptance. Unfortunately, there has been a fog over the word “Greek,” not just at F&M, but across all campuses and universities. Like all things in life, an organization is a reflection of the people who are in it, yet an epidemic of exclusion, homophobia, and racism by some have tainted the image for many.
Specifically looking at the issue of racism and exclusion at F&M Greek organizations, it’s incredibly sad that there are so many negative connotations regarding Greek life. I am a member of a fraternity on campus, and am absolutely proud to say that. I’m writing this article not to argue with a previous piece regarding the cancerous racism that manifests itself in Greek life, because unfortunately it’s real. There are students here, many who are also members of fraternities or sororities, who actively discriminate against students of color in various ways. It disappoints me so say that, but there is one thing I need to establish and make clear in this article: these hurtful, unacceptable, and backwards acts do not reflect F&M Greek life in its entirety. I know that when I look at each and every member of my fraternity, I don’t see color. The word “brother” has no race, sexuality, or nationality. Rather, it has the simplest and also the most profound connotation. It means an acceptance to all, and love.
I understand that it can be hard for many to think of fraternity life and think of sensitivity and compassion. For years, fraternity men have been labeled as insensitive, uncultured, snobby, and homophobic, and the list just goes on. Sadly, these traits weren’t made from fantasies or pop culture movies; they were legitimate observations. When I read last week’s piece regarding all of the horrendous acts made by members of Greek life, both male and female, I was hurt. But I also was frustrated. I was frustrated at the inaccurate blanket labeling of Greek life. Greek life is not just one cohesive unit at respective colleges and universities. Each fraternity or sorority is filled with incredibly unique, talented, intelligent, and gifted young men and women who make that specific organization original. Of course, they also can make that same organization awful by acting in the inexcusable way that some F&M students have. However, it is of the utmost importance to remember that we should never paint all organizations with the same brush.
With this, I ask all who encounter racism, sexism, or any manifestation of discrimination at a fraternity or sorority, please understand that with the bad there is also a whole lot of good. It is unfortunate that some feel the Director Fraternity and Sorority Life at F&M has overlooked this issue for a long time. Yet, what is even more unfortunate and dangerous is that certain students think that racism is an inevitable component of the Greek character. For all who have had hurtful encounters with a fraternity or sorority member, I’m truly sorry. It’s okay to be angry, especially when it comes to coping with unacceptable actions.
On the other hand, it is not okay to use this anger and frustration as a way to label and categorize all people as one in the same.
Every time I step foot in my fraternity house, I am humbled and so incredibly appreciative to be surrounded by such a diverse and brilliant group of people. Furthermore, I know that there is not a single one of them who would exclude or treat anyone differently based on the color of their skin. As a Greek community, as a campus, and as one cohesive unit of people, we need to get better. We need to have the conversations that aren’t always the easiest. We need to confront the issues of race and exclusion head on, and find a way to ensure that we do not fail F&M students. Injustice is the greatest crime against humanity, and it is very much recurring in different organizations and groups worldwide.
If another affair transpires where this matter reoccurs on campus, students need to be vocal. I, along with many other Greek members in various organizations are also active in the fight against injustice. So, please do not see us all as one, because we are all individuals. Please do not view us all as malicious, for many of us live with humanity and solicitude. Finally, do not give up on us, for we can do great things.
Sophomore Joe Yamulla is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.