By Emily Hawk || Contributing Writer
Throughout this semester’s discussions about the role of Greek life at F&M, I’ve listened and absorbed the debate as an “unaffiliated” student. But, I think the term “unaffiliated” itself sets up a dangerous dichotomy for classifying our student body. By calling non-Greek students “unaffiliated,” it suggests that the only valid affiliation on campus is a Greek one and therefore deepens the existing social divide between Greek and non-Greek students.
The word “unaffiliated” implies a lack of belonging or fulfillment at F&M without participation in Greek life. And, although I’m certainly unaffiliated with regard to a Greek organization, I—like virtually all other non-Greek students—AM affiliated within the campus community at large. I’m a member of Brooks College House, a performer with the F&M Dance Company, and a student of the History Department. I have had a fulfilling F&M career, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything because I am non-Greek, as the label “unaffiliated” would suggest.
Another common label I received was “close-minded” for “not even trying” recruitment when I chose not to join a sorority in my first year and beyond. Because Greek life is so socially dominant, I found that other Greek-affiliated students could not understand why I didn’t want to explore the opportunity to join. The reality is that Greek life is a huge commitment of time and money, and without interest or excitement at this prospect, it would not have been fair for me to become a member of Greek life and feign my engagement. So I, like many other students, chose to invest my time elsewhere on campus. That choice was met with questioning and accusation, and an exhausting sense that non-Greek extracurricular groups were constantly vying for validation in comparison to Greek life.
Greek life is currently the dominant social force at F&M in a way that is detrimental to extracurricular cohesion among campus clubs and organizations. It creates an environment of exclusion that doesn’t consider the range of affiliations that one can have in our community, overpowering the affiliations that many non-Greek students take pride in. To lessen this divide, we as students need to appreciate the diversity of interests that students engage with at F&M. The richer our appreciation for each other, the more supportive and inclusive our community will be.
Senior Emily Hawk is a contributing writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.