This week I attended a discussion held by the Student Life Committee regarding civility on campus. As was inevitable, the conversation strayed into topics that went beyond the basic issue at hand. One of the major issues addressed was the current debate regarding the Greek system on campus. Senate President Brad Middleton expressed despair at the idea of the faculty slowing the growth of the Greek system with the words, “Where will it end?” He suggested that recent faculty decisions regarding the system were the beginning of a downward slide which could conceivably eliminate every organization on campus, and which conflicted with students’ basic right to organize.
Well, Brad, I think many non-affiliated students, as well as some faculty members, would ask the exact same question regarding the Greek system. “Where will it end?” What people do not seem to be addressing here is the fact that the Greek system is just not going anywhere, regardless of any faculty or student opinion because it is simply too important for fund-raising for the school. The faculty, even if they wanted to, is not about to obliterate the system entirely, rather they might like us all to take a step back and examine the kind of institution that houses 1,300 students and no less than ten Greek organizations. When I visited Knox as a prospective student, I was led to believe that the Greek system was not a pivotal part of campus social life. There were four fraternities and two sororities. In my four years here, those numbers have almost doubled.
Let it be noted that this particular column is not a denigration of any specific Greek organization, and especially not of any individual involved with Greek life. But it cannot be denied that the Greek system is just plain not like other clubs. With it come countless social and political stigmas and associations. While many people certainly hold the ideal of a Greek-free campus, that is not what is being suggested. What is being suggested is that maybe we should stop and think for a moment before approving every group of same-sex friends which wish to form their own fraternity/sorority and thus strongly affect the social life and political affiliations of the school.
This question is not an unhindered bashing of any and all who choose the Greek system, but is actually quite relevant to everyone, including those in the Greek system themselves. Any group must have members to survive. At what point does the growing number of organizations start to diminish the pool of possible candidates? At what point do you start recruiting individuals you would rather not recruit simply because there are too many groups and not enough interested parties to go around? It would seem that if the Greek system continues to expand as it has been, this issue would eventually arise.
So maybe instead of dividing off into camps, or ranting about people being mean, we should all consider what is happening here. The faculty is just as much a part of this school as anyone else, and I know there are many students out there who would also feel threatened by the thought of an all Greek campus.