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September 06, 1990 - Image 61

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6, 1990 - Page3
Behind the Olympian facade
Greeks find flaws in their system


U by Noelle Vance
Daily Staff Writer
The Greek system has been criti-
cized in recent years for being
"sexist, racist and homophobic" by
various campus organizations. But
today, a surprising amount of criti-
cism comes from inside the system.
Fraternities and sororities
"involve a lot of insecure, under-
sexed people who need status sym-
bols," said Mike Pacitto, a junior
and member of Tau Gamma Nu fra-
ternity. "The mentality of it is re-
tarded; it's not the real world."
"Talking about the Greek system
just gets me really upset," said
Sharon Oster, a former member of
the Alpha Xi Delta sorority house.
Oster deactivated when she discov-
ered being Greek wasn't what she
*expected it to be.
"I rushed as a sophomore because
I was impressed by the Greek sys-
tem, the glamour. It looked like a
lot of fun, and I thought I would be
missing out if I didn't join," Oster
Oster moved into her house the
second year in the sorority in hopes
of getting to know her sorority sis-
ters better.
' "I had high hopes that I would
get to know people better by mov-
ing in," Oster said. But once in, she
said, "I was totally disillusioned by
both the people and the system."
The criticismstems mainly from
the exclusiveness of the Greek sys-
tem. There are 37 fraternities and 20
sororities on campus which are
members of the Interfraternity Coun-

cil and Panhellenic Association.
There are seven houses which are
members of the Black Greek Associ-
While more than 1000 people go
through Rush each fall, only about
700 make it into the system, said
Mary Beth Seiler of the Panhellenic
House members stress they look
for people who "fit into the house"
and who are comfortable being
themselves. But often members say,
it comes down to who looks the best
and who has the most money.
"Think about it," Pacitto said. "A
fraternity wants good looking guys
so they can attract good looking
women; sororities want good look-
ing women to attract the guys."
The way rush is handled doesn't
give house members much time to
get to know the prospective pledges,
McGovern said. While other schools
often hold rush before school starts,
rush at the University takes place
during school, so there are more
pressure on everyone involved, he
Fraternity rush occurs once in the
fall and once in the winter. Rushees
choose two or three houses to visit
during one week. Sorority rush takes
three weeks. Women visit each
sorority on the first night of rush,
then as time progresses, they elimi-
nate houses until they have decided
which house they wish to join.
"We look for someone who is a
team player and who is rushing not
because he says "I want to be in;
I've heard being a frat boy is so

cool," said Ralph Matlack, an engi-
neering senior and Theta Delta Chi
But choosing the team players
isn't always easy, especially after
speaking to many people about the
same things, Matlack said. "Rush is
boring. You meet so many people,
and it's the same questions over and
over again," he said.
Another point of concern for
Greek members is the racial compo-
sition of the houses. As the Univer-
sity community has become more
concerned with the issue of diversity
and improving its accessibility to
minorities, the traditions of the
Greek System often stand as a sym-
bol of what organizations shouldn't
"I don't think the ("frat boy") im-
age is an image on this campus to
have," said Mike McGovern, a se-
nior Theta Delta Chi member. "It's
looked down upon," he said, describ-
ing the stereotypical "frat boy" as a
white, male American athlete.
Since the civil rights' movement,
there has been little diversification of
either the fraternities and sororities
governed by the Interfraternity
Council and Panhellenic Association
or among the houses which are
members of the Black Greek Associ-
The problem has created an image
crisis for the entire Greek system.
"You say you're in a fraternity,
and they think you're racist, sexist
or homophobic," said engineering
junior John DeSue, an Alpha Delta
Phi member. "I didn't intend on

rushing because of all the bad things
I'd heard about racism, and sexism,
but this house seemed different," he
Nation and campus wide, fraterni-
ties and sororities have been taking
steps to improve their image.
In response to national outrage at
the wide range of injuries incurred at
fraternities during hazing - when
houses put their pledges through
"tests" which are often hard and dan-
gerous and sometimes include drink-
ing large amounts of alcohol -
some fraternities have banned pledg-
ing altogether.
Though no reports of injuries
have occurred in recent history at the
University, last year Tau Kappa Ep-
silon and Zeta Beta Tau announced
they were dropping their pledge pro-
grams, while Alpha Epsilon Pi
shortened its pledging period. In ad-
dition, this fall will be the second
semester of "dry rush" on campus, a
measure taken to satisfy insurance
companies who threatened to not pay
for any accidents which involved un-
derage drinkers at fraternity parties.
While Greeks have long been in-
volved in the community through
charity projects, in recent years, the
organizations have been expanding
and publicizing their activism.
Last year a group called Greeks
for Choice was formed to lobby for
abortion rights. Greeks motivation
for involving themselves in the phi-
lanthropic activities can be generated
by hidden factors. Participation in
almost all fund-raising activities is
rewarded or penalized by giving or
taking away house points or privi-
Though house members are often
quick to criticize the system as a
whole, most say they stay in the
See GREEKS, Page 13

A member of one of the University's fraternities participates in a Greek ,
Week event. Greek Week is one of the year's highlights for many sorority
and fraternity members.
Black Greek.Association.
Inta fatenit.Conci
Panhellenic As ao
:"3 :v05

Black Greek Association provides
options for 'substantiality' students

by Amisha Fields,
Birdie Goynes and
Kandace Jones
NSE Contributors
Stepping to the beat of different
drums, and the cause of their com-
munity and campus, is a group of
versatile students who take part in a
Greek organization many label with
the word "minority."
The student organizations provide
an uplift of the Black community,
encourage scholarships and scholar-
ship, and promote awareness of
Black roots and future blooms, said
Glenn Eden, president of the Black
Greek Association (BGA).
Though around campus, the or-
ganizations are often referred to as
"Minority Greek Organizations,"
BGA members stress that the word
minority is inappropriate and de-
"Minority is a very negative word
to describe Black organizations," said
Alpha Kappa Alpha member Janice
With the same incentive, Omega
Psi Phi member Lester Spence
agreed. "The term minority implies
minor. I refer to myself as a sub-
stantiality member of a Black Greek
letter organization," Spence said, ex-
plaining that many members of the
BGA would prefer a word like
"substantiality" to minority.
Some members object to the
term minority organizations for im-
plying that other organizations reject
people of color.
"I don't think you catagorize

these organizations by what they are
composed of because there are many
white fraternities and sororities that
have many different races in them,
yet they are not catagorized as so,"
said Mark Strong, Alpha Phi Alpha
associate said.
Only two of the seven BGA or-
ganizations have houses. Members
instead are bonded by the work they
do with the community.
Each organization recruits new
members at teas and smokers in the
fall. After the selections are made,
pledges undergo an intense initiation
process where they are taught the
history and guidelines of their orga-
nization, and are introduced to a
unique bond of sisterhood and broth-
Last year the BGA voted to end
hazing, which has been a traditional
part of the initiation process.
Though most of the BGA initiation
activities are kept secret, BGA
members are known to be branded
with hot irons on their arms.
In the Novemeber the BGA voted
to end hazing because of the prob-
lems that had occured with it in the
However, some members dispute
the meaning of the term hazing.
The kind of "hazing" people say
Sthe organizations do happens every-

day, Eden said. Eden said the true
definition of hazing meant actions
involving either physically or men-
tally abusive treatment. He said the
BGA organizations do not conduct
that form of hazing.
APA member Strong referred to
four other organizations who know-
ingly haze but are not criticized.
These organizations include: the
U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air
"Privates are forced to greet there
superiors, walk in straight lines,
wear the same clothes, and it is d-
manded that they undergo physical
training and calisthenics, but these
methods of discipline are accepted
and overlooked by the government as
well as the society," Strong said.
The next time you look at* a
Black Greek letter organization, look
beyond the fancy footwork - BGA
houses are known for their well-
choreographed dance, or "step"
shows - and paraphernalia - color-
ful sweat suits, for example. Re-
member they are stepping for a

To write forthe Daily
Stop by, or~ive us a


Potential sorority members attend rush at one on the more than 30 sororities at the University. Deciding whether or
not to join a house in one of the Greek systems is a choice many first year students are faced with.

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