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September 21, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-09-21

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4

OPINION

r

Page 4

Friday, September 21, 1984

The Michigan Daily{

.

Trying to get a grip on going Greek

By Sue Barto
And now for the perennial question:
To be or not to be - Greek.
For those non-affiliates among us,
' Greek" is a member of a social
fraternity or sorority. He or she is of
college age, is often seen wearing Greek.
letters emblazoned on sweatshirts, pan-
ts, and visors, and is usually the object
of heated controversy and criticism. He
or she is also, at this very minute,
engaged in"Rush," or the semi-annual
ritual of acquiring new members.
There are well over 3,000 of them on
campus, constituting about 15 percent
of the undergraduate population. That's
up about 4 percent since 1979. The num-
bers are growing in what Greek-haters
would call epidemic proportions. My
god, they say, if this trend continues,
coupled with declining enrollments, the
University will be overrun by Greeks
by the year 2020. The PSN will stand for
Proliferation of Student Nepotism and
MSA for the Michigan Social Arena.
Sonya and Harry Jr. (great grandkids
of our fearless Greek council leaders)
will oust Scottie and Stevie, and the U-
Club will be renamed I Ate A Pie.
But think how easy the ad-
ministration's job will be. The only.
courses they'll have to offer will be
Home Economics and Bartending. Of
course, we'll still need counseling ser-
vices for the massive influx of student
alcoholics.
Well, worry not your little hearts.
This apocalypse will never occur
because there will always be the GDIs
(God Damned Independents) who think
only a diseased, demented, insecure,
or lobotomized individual would
sacrifice his or her identity to "the
system."
I beg to differ. Yes, I am Greek. And
the following is nothing more than a
self-conscious justification for
belonging to an organization . that
blatantly excludes people on the sole
basis of their sociability - on their

knack for keeping up a conversation. In
one sense, the rules are very simple: If
we like you and you like us, you're in.
But in another sense, the rules for both
sides are entirely subjective. When a
student participates in Rush, he or she
gives the other participants license to
judge his or her worth as a social being.
Why would anyone subject them-
self to this kind of scrutinization?
Let's start at the beginning. The first
Americans to "go Greek" were five
men at the College of William and Mary
in 1776. They gathered in a tavern
(that's right, a place where they serve
up the strong stuff) and called them-
selves Phi Beta Kappa. They "formed
the bonds" in the name of friendship,
morality, and literature. Phi Beta Kap-
pa is now an honorary society whose
members are selected on the basis of
scholarship, but the guiding principals
of these five "revolutionaries" are still
basic to social fraternities and
sororities.
But none of these principals, alone or
together, justifies "the system." Take
friendship. A Greek letter society
provides a meeting place and a full
social calendar. It provides the
camaraderie that may otherwise be
lacking at a huge University. But most
of the Greeks I know had plenty of
friends before they signed up and are
continuously making new non-Greek
friends. Chances are, if they didn't,
they are not terribly social people and
would not have gotten a "bid," or in-
vitation to join, in the first place.
Morality. Philanthropies are a big
part of Greek life. No, this does not
mean Greeks define their morality in
direct proportion to the amount of
money they donate to charity, but some
do it as a justificatin for banding
together.
Zeta Tau Alpha sorority for example,
made approximately $3,000 last year on
Mr. Greek Week and a carnation sale,
all of which they donated to charity.
Few other campus organizations, none

from the dorm did not Rush because
they simply could not afford it. And I
know of people who have pledged
houses only to realize that they could
not handle the financial obligations.
These finances are sometimes
brushed under the rug, despite the ef-
forts of the Panhellenic Association
(the governing council for sororities) to
make the costs widely known.
Rush is also very superficial.. But
socializing, like baseball or bowling, is
a skill. Fraternities and sororities do
discriminate - on the basis of whether
or not they like the rushee. I remember
a woman who came through Rush last
year who thought she was a shoe-in. She
was well-dressed, attractive, captain of
this, chairperson of that, involved in
her church - by all of society's stan-
dards, this woman was a winner. She'll
probably be running a Fortune 500
company before the century's up. But I
didn't really like her. I didn't enjoy her
company. I didn't care what kind o
status she would bring to my
organization or what she would think if
we "cut" her. She wasn't mean and I
wouldn't mind working with her, but I
did not choose her to be in my sorority.
Some humble advice: If you go
through rush, be honest with yourself.
Am I comfortable in this house? Do I
like these people? Do I really care what
they think? If you are not sure that you
like yourself, if you are looking for
house to define your worth - you're
looking for trouble.
Being Greek is rewarding and lots of
fun. Panhel and the Interfraternity
Council do their best to keep enough
houses on campus to accommodate
everyone who wants to experience
Greek life. But all Greeks have the
responsibility of being up front about
what and wly we are. That way, our
pleasure is not another's pain.
Barto is the Daily's Personne
Editor and a member of Alpha Phi
sorority.

Daily Photo by DOUG.McMAHON'
"Rushees" pick up their time schedules at the corner of South University and South Forest Wednesday before going to that
evening's set of five parties. A record number of women - over 1,000 -registered for Rush this fall in hopes of finding a house

that is right for them.
that immediately come to mind, can
boast this kind of accomplishment. But,
according to ZTA's treasurer, the
house's social budget last year was
$6,000. This year it is $7,300. If these
women were so utterly altruistic, they
would be volunteering in a Third World
country or inner-city ghetto and not
spending twice what they give to
charity on fun and games. The fun-
damental motivation for joining a
house is not to help the sick and needy,
but it is constructive to channel all the
time and energy it takes to have fun in-
to a worthwhile cause.
Scholarship. The grade point average
among sororities is 3.17 - more than
two-tenths higher than the campus
average. Some fraternities boast 3.3

and higher for overall GPAs. Most
houses have scholarship chairpersons
who encourage good study habits and
provide information on other members'
majors and interests so they can help
each other out. The old beef about the
Greeks' unfair access to extensive test
files is mute now because most
professors supply old tests so everyone
has a fair chance. And again, who's to
say how high each individual's grade
point might have been had they not
gone Greek?
But still I can't name one Greek:
acquaintance who joined because he or'
she wanted a place to study.
Students do not go Greek to get good
grades, help the less fortunate, or fill a
massive void of friendship..

The system provides organized social
activities and a "home" with
traditions. They provide a sense of
family, that one's "brothers" and
"sisters" accept you for what you are.
It's a good time.
The problem is that the Greeks' good
time sometimes hurts others. The hurt
stems from students not being fully in-
formed about the mechanisms of rush.
It is expensive. The average cost for the
first year in a sorority - for
"pledging," "initiating," and in most
cases several meals and other social
activities - is $495. Granted, sub-
sequent years are considerably less ex-
pensive and room and board is com-
petitive with, and often a better deal
than the dorms. But several of my pals

G Edfitm dbtna nig an
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

VJARN(N4LAWEL5

..

Vol. XCV, No. 14

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Toward equal education

J UST TWO summers ago the Presi-
dent's Blue Ribbon Commission on
Education declared that there was a
crisis in American education. A
"rising tide of mediocrity" was
sweeping the nation's schools and
something had to be done. Everyone
began to point his or her finger at the
teacher, the student, and the school
administrator: who was responsible
for this loss of excellence?
Wednesday, the College Board, an
organization of around 2,500 high
schools and colleges that sponsors the
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and
other college admissions tests, gave
the public some good news: average
SAT scores rose four points this year
over last year, suggesting that there
may not be a loss of quality after all.
In fact, there seems to be significant
progress taking place in American
schools, though it must be noted that
higher SAT scores alone are by no
means an exact -barometer of
educational success. Nonetheless,
George Hanford, president of the
College Board, said, "We seem to have

turned the corner in seeking to im-
prove American education."
And indeed, maybe we have.
Yet it might just be the attitudes
teachers hold regarding the ability of
individual students that has provided
an improved education more than
plain sermonizing about a need to go
back to the basics.
This is perhaps reflected in the
progress women and minority students
have made in recent years. The trend
in falling scores began to break in 1980
after 17 years and was followed by a
period of stability. Then, most en-
couragingly, in 1982 higher scores
achieved by minority students reflec-
ted actual gains. This year, scores
revealed impressive gains by female
students in the math and science area.
The public, therefore, should not be
fearing the downgrading of education
in this country, rather they should be
rejoicing in a change which has
produced more equality in the system.
Education is not just for the rich, white
male in this society. It is one of the
ways that American democracy tries
to insure equality of opportunity.

CoNSUMPTiON OF TH4ESE
CAE ESE NREw 3COUL P
TURN ' OuIg TERIES INTO
SLIME- ENCR~USTED
0

SCHUCK(*
AFTER ELEGTIoN.

WARNM(r USE OF Tris
WEAON COULD
CAUSE END OF RUMAN
LIFE AS WE KNOW
IT.

4

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4

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( .W i 1111II l ,
S~ o, aUEMa1 AN~

4

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Does Brian the Wild like Reagan?

To the Daily:
King Brian the Wild is at it
again. This time Mr. Leiter has
the gall to equate Ronald Reagan
with Fidel Castro in "Picking the
lesser of two evils" (Daily, Sept.
18). That's no way to treat a
greatly admired world figure.
Look at the words Leiter uses to
refer to that great leader of the
masses, Dr. Castro: "Im-
perialistic," "dogmatic," "ex-
cessive centralization," and "not
committed to pluralism."
This is typical revisionist neo-
liberal thinking. Dr.sCastro is
much 1nved hv the nOnnle nf Cha

illiterate democracy.
Leiter charges Castro with
jailing people due to their
political beliefs. This is absurd.
Castro only jails dangerous non-
conformists who don't fully sup-
port the revolution. To equate
that with Reagan's jailing of
people who kill policemen and
commit other acts of revolution is
ludicrous.
Even more upsetting is Leiter's
charge that Castro supports
"fascist" governments. Fidel
supports only indigenous
RLQOM CfU TWTY

revolutions and previously'
established Marxist-Leninist
governments. To suggest that
these governments are fascist is
to imply that Marxism-Leninism
and fascism are equivalent.
Susan Sontag made that claim
three years ago and we booted
her out of the "We Know
Everything Intellectual Society."
Even though Leiter is a charter
member of our group, we may
have to reconsider his member-
ship if he continues this
revisionist thinking.

Brian Leiter at first brought a
new light to the Opinion Page.
Now he is just like all of you fun-
ctionally illiterate anti-intellec-
tual capitalist morons: a 4
kneejerk anti-revolutionary reac-
tionary. How dare he even im-
plicitly criticize that great
unelected leader, Dr. Castro?
Until he equated Reagan with
Castro I didn't know that Leiter
liked Reagan so much. Shame,
Brian.
- Steve Angelotti
September 18
KH Up.r1s U.. bs a

17

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