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Admin. should recognize Greek Life

By José Castellanos

Section: Opinions

March 4, 2016

In 1986, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity founded a chapter at Brandeis, becoming the university’s first Greek organization. In its early days, the fraternity was met with much resistance, since Greek life was banned on campus due to administrative fears over their exclusive nature. Waltham Group refused to allow brothers to donate blood and anti-Greek articles were published in campus publications. However, despite the resistance, Alpha Epsilon Pi only grew. Now, 30 years later, Greek life at Brandeis thrives despite remaining largely underground, with the six fraternities and four sororities present on campus being largely unable to perform various on-campus activities due to the same ban.

Approximately 12 percent of the student body belongs to a fraternity or sorority, and the Greek Awareness Council allows for greater outreach from the Greek community in their various philanthropic efforts. And yet, the administrative continues to insist that Greek life not be recognized, largely due to the inherent exclusivity of Greek organizations. However, this sentiment in and of itself brims with hypocrisy. There is a plethora of organizations on campus that maintain a degree of exclusivity, such as the myriad improv comedy troupes and a cappella groups on campus; these organizations maintain a degree of recognition from administration, even if they are not chartered groups on campus.

So why does the administration refuse to recognize Greek life? Many may point to the parties often thrown by fraternities, stating that because underage drinking often occurs at these events, it would be unreasonable for Brandeis to recognize organizations that participate in such activities. Though it is perhaps the worst-kept secret at Brandeis that a staggering number of organizations throw similar unofficial parties, with no backlash from administration.

It is expected that, at one point or another, college students are going to drink. This is why there is an alcohol awareness session during orientation and why the Department of Community Living has posted various “Know Your Buzz” and “Make Good Choices” flyers in most every residence hall. It is therefore unreasonable to only hold Greek life accountable for the alcohol culture on campus.

Greek organizations also hold a high degree of risk management, with most, if not all, having mandatory bystander training for their new and old members alike. Though there is a national issue regarding sexual misconduct, Brandeis Greek organizations are overall taking the appropriate steps to prevent the same problems from occurring on and off campus. This shows not only a determination to educate members on the issue of sexual misconduct and how be an active bystander, but also a dedication to the safety of Brandeis students. Even accounting for this, Greek life is about much more than just partying. Every organization has a respectable degree of philanthropic activity, with each organization forming teams for Relay for Life, as well as hosting various individual events, such as Alpha Epsilon Pi’s semesterly Pie-a-Pi, which directly supports organizations such as the Israel Children’s Cancer Foundation and Gift of Life. Delta Phi Epsilon also hosts annual charity events that support organizations such as the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

So what argument is left to be made? By allowing for Greek recognition, administration not only allows for a greater potential in Greek philanthropic efforts, but also allows for a greater degree of safety and accountability for the various events held by both fraternities and sororities. Additionally, these organizations would benefit largely from the additional resources presented to recognized organizations, such as an increased rate of on-campus outreach and a larger ease of reserving spaces for events. By allowing for recognition of Greek life on campus, there is also an opportunity to begin cooperation between campus administration and Greek organizations, potentially allowing for an increase in philanthropic activities and improving both of Greek life and of the Brandeis community as a whole.

Essentially, the ban of Greek life on campus is pointless and counterproductive. By not providing recognition, the ban effectively shows a Brandeis administration that is unwilling to work together with a student populace that has, overall, been more of a benefit than a liability to the university despite the administration’s best attempts to hinder its growth.

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