The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1986 - Page 3A
Greeks gain respect despite self-indulgent image
By MELISSA BIRKS
When the Sigma Alpha Mu frater-
nity paid a man reputed to be the
world's fastest beer drinker $1500 to
come imbibe on campus last March,
many snickered it was "just another
But as membership in fraternities
and sororities steadily increases, the
Greek" system is forcing the rest of
campus to take it seriously.
The Greek system has experienced
a startling resurgence in the last
twenty years. In the '60s, while stud-
ent activists captured front page
headlines, membership in fraternities
and sororities plummeted. Several
fraternities were forced to rent out
their houses, and some were ignored
into oblivion altogether.
Last year, the resurgence that has
seen the number of fraternity pledges
almost double over the last ten years,
showed no signs of slowing down.
Twice as many men and 200 more
women than the year before pledged
to join fraternities and sororities last
Visible on campus
By virtue of sheer numbers and
their interest in social organizations,
Greeks play a visible role throughout
campus. 40 percent of the University
Activities Center's executive council
- which organizes many events on
campus - are in fraternities and
sororities. Nearly half of all resident
advisors and resident directors are
Greek, as are many orientation
Tschampel, a member of Sigma Chi.
"It's a matter of opinion whether or
not it's negative," says Dennis
Kavanagh, president of the Inter-
Fraternity Council (IFC) and a mem-
ber of Alpha Tau Omega. "It depends
on who looks at it. If they're not in the
Greek system, they think, 'They're a
bunch of drunks. There they go
Despite the "indulgent" label,
Greeks are also known for charity
work. One of the highpoints in the
Greek year is "Greek Week" every
March. With a series of events like the
bed race, fraternities and sororities
last year raised $30,000 for a variety of
Reason for resurgence unknown
Exactly why University students
are increasingly being drawn to the
Greek system is unclear. "They're
back for the same reason that the
junior prom is back, that Ronald
Reagan is president, that there's a
religious revival, and a rebirth of
patriotism," suggests Jack Levin, a
sociologist at Northeastern Univer-
sity in California.
Paula Glanzman, former president
of Sigma Delta Tau, offers another
explanation. "The basic thing about
the Greek system is the 'niche' aspect
- the support of sisters and brothers
getting through four traumatic
years," she says.
Even so, neither pledges or actives
think that the threat of hazing should
stop anyone from rushing. While
But other costs tend to make being
Greek more expensive. Pledge fees,
which pay for pledge bookd, pins,
sweatshirts, pictures, and other
paraphenalia, can cost from $20 to
"I wasn't aware of it. It's kind of a
shock to you," said Tschampel, who
spent more than $200 at a fraternity
formal in Chicago. He said he spends
$125 a semester in social fees.
'Rush is more competitive
Whatever the reason, the rise in
Greeks has made rush - already a
cruelly selective and rigorously
scheduled activity - more com-
petitive both among pledges and
Among houses, bigger seems to be
better. Smaller houses, or houses far
from Central Campus often have to
resort to special measures, such as
free steak dinners, to attract prospec-
tive pledges. "The bigger houses are
more competitive," Kavanagh
The lobbying to get the "best"
pledges really begins before rush
even begins, when potential pledges
decide which fraternity or sorority to
join. Stereotypes play a huge role in
this. IFC President Kavanagh con-
cedes that like all generalizations,
fraternities and sororities'
reputations have at least some truth
"When I rushed, I didn't know the
sterotypes. I just went. Whichever one
I liked, I figured out for myself. When
I found out (the reputations) after-
wards, they pretty much correspon-
ded," said LSA sophomore Kris
Mathews who joined Alpha Phi her
Most fraternity and sorority mem-
bers agreee that sterotypes flow
freely through the system. While they
cite "being labeled" as the worst part
of being Greek, the stigma attached to
their house directly affects how many
pledges a house gets and what parties
housemembers are invited to.
"There are a lot of reputations. You
can't avoid it. I think that most might
be true a little," Tschampel says.
One of the advantages of waiting to
rush until second term freshman
year, rush veterans say, is that
there's time to learn the different
reputations and how true they are.
For fraternities, reputations are
based largely on the size of the house
its location, and the parties they have.
Sororities, however, are at the mercy
of stereotypes that perpetuate form
the social calender.
Because sorority charters do not
allow alcohol in the houses, sororities
rely on fraternities to throw parties.
And that means more competition.
"We call up a fraternity and ask for a
party. There's competition with other
'People think it's all drinking, all parties,
and so-called getting laid. But it's not.'
-LSA junior Rick Tschampel
"Greeks tend to be some of the
major contributors to student life on
campus," said Cindy Straub, con-
sultant to the Student Organization
Development Council. "Greeks tend
to be leaders or members of volunteer
The Greek system has even caught
the attention of the University's ad-
ministration. Last year, for example,
t e University created a task force to
explore the relationship between the
University and the Greek system.
"Right now, it's real loose. There is no
relationship," Straub said.
"Most major organizations have a
formal relationship with the
University. There is no one to do that
for fraternities. There has been some
discussion to give them more help
thanthey have had," she said.
The University, for example, could
help Greeks plan and manage such
huge events as "Greek Week," and
programs as increasing alcohol abuse
and "date" rape awareness in the
"With that many students, it's a
marvelous opportunity to influence
growth and personal development
outside the classroom," said Jo Rum-
sey, assitant director of University
housing, and a member of the task
Greeks have been controversial
The increase in the Greek system,
however, does not always bring such
positive responses. The large amount
of money spent on the speed beer
drinker, as well as such traditional
events as jumping into a vat of jello,
have brought snickers of "those in-
"People think that it's all drinking,
all parties, and so-called getting laid.
But it's not," said LSA junior Rick
freshmen "should be concerned about
it," said LSA junior Chris Cumming
who joined Delta Upsilon his fresh-
man year, "If they're more concerned
about hazing than joining the house,
don't join the house."
"Hazing is not nearly as bad as it
used to be," Cumming added.
Greeks have obligations
Many pledges don't realize what
they're getting involved in when they
decide to wear fraternity or sorority
letters. "They think it's all fun and no
work," says nursing j nir Vickie ZSizncm.
Actually, Greeks require actives and
pledges to work on fundraisers for
their charity. Each fraternity and
sorority raises money throughout the
year for a particular charity.
"A lot (of pledges) come through
and they don't know what fraternities
are about," says Tschampel.
"Usually people only have been to the
parties before. They're interested in
the parties, or had people they know
in fraternities they join."
In addition, Kavanagh said, many
prospective pledges don't realize the
cost of joining the Greek system.
Several houses require their mem-
bers to live in the house, and actives
make a point during rush to explain
how much money would be involved.
"It's important to know the finan-
cial obligations," Kavanagh said.
"We don't want someone to drop out
because of money."
Just considering housing, being a
Greek is relatively inexpensive. Even
during the '60s, Greek housing was a
popular alternative because of the
cheap prices, according to Rumsey.
"It's always been attractive room
and board," she said. The average
cost of living in a fraternity is about
$340 per month including a full meal
Agaly rnotoby SCOTI LITUCHY
Alex Kay from the Pi Beta Phi sorority emerges from Greek Week's Jello Jump.
houses, because you want to party
with the big houses, the popular
ones," said Sizemore.
Fraternities, in turn, vote for the
sororities they want to party with. The
"They have to be fun to party with,
and it's better if they're good
looking," said Tschampel. "If they're
good looking, but dead then that's
not good either."
Some don't have good reputations.
They're really ugly, fat, tall, or no
fun. They'll got to a party and just talk
to each other. If you get stuck with
them, you'll be upset," LSA junior
G.M. Broucek said. "So you have a
pre-party and get really drunk so
Pledge competition cutthroat
But it's the competition between
pledges that gives rush its cutthroat
reputation. For a week towards the
beginning of each term, rushees
spend three to four hours a night
visiting parties at some of the 32
houses on campus.
"I didn't open a book the whole
week of rush,", said Takeshi
Hatanaka, an engineering junior who
joined Sigma Phi Epsilon. 6
"From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., you drink,
and you don't feel like going tb
classes. When you rush, you don't feel
like doing anything," said Broucek. F
Even with the demanding tinie
commitments, rush veterans still en-
courage freshmen to join, but usually
not until winter term.
LSA senior William Balz, who
rushed Sigma Chi his freshman yea?'
notes that 'students have less time to
join after freshman year. "You ha e
See NEGATIVE, Page 15
Suicides among students haunt friends
By REBECCA BLUMENSTEIN
On the chilly autumn night of Oc-
tober 16 engineering senior Richard
Grabowski jumped to his death from
a parking structure at East Williams
and Fourth Streets.
On a Sunday evening 11 days later,
a freshman living in Bursley slashed
her wrists in an attempt to kill her-
And in November, a student ex-
pressed concern about a friend,
another LSA junior, whose wrists
bear razor blade scratches and who
speaks frequently about death.
UNIVERSITY counselors and
national suicide experts say the three
suicidal occurrences described above
are not uncommon - only surprising
and disturbing to students who may
fail to realize that someone they know
wants to die until it's too late.
Evelyn Gauthier, assistant director
of the University's Counselng Ser-
vices, says it is "almost inevitable
that most students, within four years
of school, will encounter one (peer)
who is seriously contemplating
suicide or has even attempted it."
The actual numbers of suicides are
believed to be under-reported
because students may kill themselves
during a visit at home or their death
certificate may not list suicide
cause of death. Gauthier says
available statistics show that four to
five students in a campus the size of
the University's will end their own
lives during an average academic
"AT LEAST 10 times as many have
seriously attempted suicide," she ad.
ds, "and 10 times that many have
committed harmful acts upon theib
body, such as scratching their wrists
or an excessive use of drugs of
According to Gauthier, at lease
another 500 students every academic
See COLLEGE, Page 15 ,,
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