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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Editorial: It is time to break the silence surrounding Greek life

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Allison Neslund/THE REVIEW
We encourage our university community to speak up about Greek life, and we offer our pages as a platform to do so.

A return to campus has brought a return to the typical happenings among the university’s fraternities and sororities — and with that, a continuation of the culture of secrecy surrounding them. 

That is not to say all fraternities and sororities are encouraging this toxic behavior; however, there have certainly been murmurs of COVID-19 cases at parties and allegations of underage drinking. 

Without knowledge of our own Greek organizations outside of these rumors, we are forced to look at Greek life on a national scale. 

In the past year, there have been growing calls to abolish Greek life on college campuses throughout the U.S. One movement, appropriately called Abolish Greek Life , was started by students involved in Greek life at Vanderbilt University. Since then, the movement has grown to encompass students at more than 50 colleges and universities, including Stanford University, Northwestern University, Duke University, Penn State University and many others. Notably, the University of Delaware is missing from this list, suggesting a lack of dialogue on our campus and in our community. 

Abolish Greek Life claims that historically white fraternities and sororities “perpetuate racism, sexism, sexual assault, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, classism, hazing and alcoholism on university campuses.” 

These elements are clearly present in many of the Greek organizations on our campus as well, with fraternities that attempt to limit party attendees to female students, the hefty fees students must pay to participate, underage-drinking (and its effects — death in some cases) and malignant ideas of conformity.

To provide just a few examples, in 2008, student Brett Griffin  died of alcohol poisoning after a Sigma Alpha Mu party, and in 2018, Rancel Valdez, an openly gay student, was allegedly assaulted and had his leg broken at an off-campus fraternity party. 

Yet, there is no real discussion happening. 

Many of the flaws in historically white fraternities and sororities are due to the desire to conform to antiquated traditions.  

“After decades of attempted reform (and notably, intense opposition), the same problems persist in Greek Life,” Abolish Greek Life said on its website. “It is time to acknowledge that historically white Greek Life is fundamentally incompatible with successful higher education institutions that prepare students for robust engagement in a multi-racial, progressive society. Abolition is [the] only path forward.”

To be clear, we are not calling for abolition. We are only calling for conversation. With 24.85% of the university’s undergraduate population involved in Greek life in the spring of 2021, the problems surrounding Greek life affect a significant part of our student body. 

The biggest problem of all and the barrier to all potential solutions, though, is silence. 

How will the university community effectively examine its relationship with Greek life when no one talks about it? When all we hear are anonymous whispers on social media accounts? What problems permeate beneath the surface of these closed-off organizations? 

We encourage our university community to speak up about Greek life, and we offer our pages as a platform to do so. 

The Review’s weekly editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Kelsey Wagner, editor-in-chief. She may be reached at kdwagner@udel.edu.

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