The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, August 26, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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    Go (far away from) greek
UNL should remove elitism by deleting the system of fraternities and sororities
graduate student studying
German and European
Environmental Social Studies and
is a Daily Nebraskan columnist
As the new school year begins, the disgust
ing fact of elitism in this public university and
other universities in this country rears its head,
just as it has every year since the system of fra
ternities and sororities has been in existence.
The system of fraternities and sororities,
although not openly admitted or expressed, is a
system for economically well-to-do white people
to gather with others of their kind in a sort of
public display of high society connections, status
and superiority.
These people live in the nicest and closest
houses to campus, drive nice automobiles and
wear their respective greek letters as a sort of
brand to distinguish themselves from the herd of
other system conformists.
Brands are tor cattle.
The problem lies in the mere existence of
these elitist organizations, the mentality they
produce and the stratification they create on
First of all, the fraternity and sorority system
generally produces negative attributes such as ill
respect toward others and others’ belongings,
excessive and sometimes violent behavior,
superficiality and a lack of concern for the gen
eral public.
Also, these groups significantly control the
student government and other areas of policy in
this university. Perhaps this is because of a lack
of involvement by individuals unaffiliated with a
fraternity or a sorority, but nevertheless, it is the
I remember living in a fraternity at the
University of Kansas, and I remember my expe
rience there. I also remember living in Germany,
which further strengthened my dislike for the
elitist greek institutions and reaffirmed my
belief that these organizations are not only per
sonally destructive and repressive, but socially
immature as well.
The fraternities and sororities in the United
States are not as strongly politically backed as
they were in the past, but they still are to some
degree and more so in other countries around the
The fraternities and sororities in the United
States are still funded largely by wealthy, politi
cally conservative individuals, but fortunately,
most of these conservatives aren’t as radically
racist as they have been in the past.
In Germany right now, the fraternities are
still funded by those who made a lot of money
during the disaster that was World War II - con
servative neo-fascists.
The fraternity members in Germany also
live m the nicest and oldest houses near cam
pus, and the initiated individuals must fence
with swords in order to become members.
These elitist organizations in Germany are
still heavily funded by wealthy, right-wing,
neo-fascist conservatives, but they are
protested against by an even larger, more
vocal group of individuals who name them
selves “autonymes” or autonomouses.
These people heckle, jeer, throw eggs
and curse the members and the despicable i
existence of these elitist groups that I
embody all that is negative about Germany J
and its past. J
Here in the United States, the organiza- I
dons of fraternities and sororities are If
accepted as blindly as the possession of ||
handguns and the absurd laws that govern ||
the age of alcohol consumption as “just J
the way things are.” |§§
No one stops to question these imma- f
ture popularity contests that also ||||
embody much that is negative in this J|f§
society - namely economic and race l
stratification, superficiality, binge alco- t **
hoi use, over-enthusiastic material f
goods consumption and an idea that /
connections are more important than f
ijuam luauuus.
The presence of these organiza
tions on public university campuses is
a contradiction to the meaning of uni- 1
versity scholarship because they pre- ’
sent an unhealthy atmosphere of
inequality, irresponsibility and disre
n,_u,__ *1___c._
A viinyo AAA Uiy ivimuiuviug j vtuo UOIVUUUVO
were used to shape and pursue scholarship as a
sort of “gentleman’s club,” but even then, they
consisted only of wealthy, white males.
Obviously life isn’t fair, but in an era that
stresses the importance of equality and fairness
of study and work opportunity, these silty clubs
for boys and girls stand in clear contradiction to
these ideals and equality.
Although equality of education is far horn a
reality in the United States, the public university
sector should acknowledge its responsibility to
provide a learning environment that is devoid of
organizations that are solely based on economic
and ethnic standing.
What they need to do with the fraternity and
sorority houses on campus is convert them into
community living facilities like that of Love
They should not necessarily be same-sex
living establishments, but communal living
arrangements that teach respect and responsibili
ty through experience and accountability
for one’s actions.
facilities are wondeifiil, becausetheyaHowTOr ;
the interaction of all types of people, regardless
of age, sex, religion, race, color, nationality and
language. They also allow for the learning of
socially responsible behavior including respect
for others and others’ belongings, cleanliness,
sharing and cooking.
Fraternities and sororities, which are preva
lent at UNL, provide for privileged homogeny
and dependence and are very distant from the
teachings of diversity and respect
Communal housing arrangements are
severely lacking on this and many other public
university campuses in the United States, but are
abundant in the university systems ofEurope
and elsewhere.
The campuses of Copenhagen, Heidelberg
and Amsterdam all provide many structures for
communal living that are far superior to the
stereotypical dormitory of the United States in
terms of freedom, privacy and responsibility.
And it is this type of housing arrangement that
fosters growth, understanding, diversity and
social change.
~t~ t Communal housing arrange
ti*****.) ments, where individuals are
I responsible for their behavior and
I the well-being of the living quarters,
1 are sorely needed if the people of the
I United States are ever redly going to
I begin working together and under
j standing one another, rather than just
/ perpetrating tokenism.
I Mr. Chancellor, remove elitism
^ I from this campus by transforming the
•ife If/ mto public, communal living establish
11| ments» and accept the responsibility of
: duty changing the atmosphere of the
; i| University ofNebraska-Lincoln.
The learning and social environment
ijpll of the campus would be so drastically
(p^i §/ improved that no one now is able to
>l|il| comprehend the benefit. Perhaps that is
1 IP I one 1638011 why this elitist system still
j mm exists.
1 f m For the thousand of so people I may
i w have offended with this article, do not take
m offense. Instead, look at your situation
within the system of fraternities and sorori
Wj W ties and ask yourself, “Why?”
Why bother with conforming to some
£M thing you don’t agree with, or just “going
Hi along with it” because it is a popular thing
II to do and “everybody’s doing it”?
And for every thousand people who I
Mj may have offended, there are at least ten
Ilf thousand who I’m sure are in agreement with
P me and would like to see die conversion of
( these elitist clubs intoc«nmunal livu*.
aii^ugcuicuid uic Buiyp pyiywTOfPTOwi
ing*£faence*r * ■ Wp***8**®1^5
See reality, people. The world is not a cute
little club consisting of homogenous dress and
attitude. It is far more complex and far more
important The world is a big place, and not
everybody is in a club.
Try and imagine these facts, and do the one
thing that you will never, ever regret: Remove
yourself from the system of fraternities and
At your service
Student assistants can make time spent at school much, much nicer
ERIN REITZ is a senior
theater performance major
and a Daily Nebraskan
Ahh... the delights of the early
fall - moving in when it’s 102 degrees
outside (and 10 degrees hotter inside),
spending your life savings on your
first two textbooks and needing a stu
dent loan for the rest, getting prema
turely (and usually unnecessarily) ner
vous about your classes. You have to
love it
If you are lucky enough to have
moved into a residence hall (in 102
degree heat), you have met your stu
dent assistant and in all likelihood, it
was far from the horrors of which I
have just spoken.
Hopefully, this person welcomed
you to your floor and introduced you
to a few of your neighbors. Hopefully,
you were told where the cafeteria and
laundry rooms are located and what to
do if you find yourself locked out of
your room wearing only the towel you
got as a graduation present.
Hopefully, the experience has helped
to make everything else a bit more
Hopefully, you were nice to this
If you’ve never experienced the
phenomenon that is the residence
halls, you may be wondering what it is
that your student assistant does, exact
ly. Well, guess what kiddos, I'm
gonna tell ya.
You see, boys and girls, your SA is
here to help make your home-away
from-home life a little easier
Your SA is a confidante, a friend,
a resource and a policy enforcer. Your
S A can show you how to get involved
on campus and how to get help for
almost any problem that you may
have. SAs will help you make it
through die insanity that can be the
first and last few weeks of school (and
all of the lunacy in between). Your SA
wall try to show you all different sides
of this school and encourage you to
risk new (legal) things.
One thing I’ve discovered in my
years at this fine institution is that col
lege is only realty fun if you are will
ing to make a complete fool of your
self every once in awhile (or most of
die time). Guess what? Your SA can
help you to do just that!
Your floor or hall will probably
have programs where you have to get
dressed in a corny outfit and shoot
your neighbor (Well, not really shoot
them. Come on people, guns belong
in the police station!)
You might be asked to wallow
around in die mud, write your name
with your butt as an icebreaker, or
even go trick-or-treating in the old Mr.
T costume you’ve tucked lovingly
away in your bottom dresser drawer.
Once again: DO NOT BE
Itls college - you’re expected to
act this way. Phis, these things give
you a nice break from thinking too
much about die vessel-popping final
you may be about to take. Just
promise you’ll do me one BIG favor.
Humor diem.
Humor them like crazy. Go to
their programs, even if your SA is not
the one putting them on. Don’t be
afraid to karaoke and carouse a little.
What you get out of your floor com
munity is what you put into it. Sol
suppose the phrase “Put out or get
out!” actually applies this time. OK,
maybe not Sorry.
The point I am trying to drive into
your skull is that it is not immature
and dorky to do fun stuff with your
floor. If you get social every once and
awhile, you could meet people who
may become lifelong friends. You
could discover a hidden talent that
you never knew was there (writing
your name with your butt, for
instance). You could even learn some
thing. No kidding.
Because your friendly student
assistants are working so hard to
make your life in die hall a good one,
they not only deserve your participa
tion, they also deserve your respect
They’re people just like you and ~
me. Weil, exactly like me, because I
am an S A.
Just like that timeless babe Aretha,
we can’t tell you enough times how
much we appreciate your r-e-s-p-e-c-t
especially when we ask something of
you that you may find unpleasant It
means a lot that you show enough
courtesy to turn down die music (and
the bass) when asked at 3 in the morn
ing, and that you resist that burning
urge to spray the fire extinguisher
down the hallway.
Live animals in the restroom are
also a definite no-no, by the way.
Remember, non-dangerous fish only,
please. In a tank. Thank you.
This truly is one of those jobs that
you are clueless about until you
attempt it It’s a lot harder than it
looks, so give us a break. Nobody
likes to tell you that what you’re doing
stinks. Who would want to be in the
position to regurgitate policy to their
friends and put their behinds in
check? (We’re not sadists. Realty.)
If you do happen to realty screw
up, it Is just like the high school princi
pal's office-things will be better for
you if you cooperate. Don’t yell and
scream, don’t throw things, don’t slam
your door and blow cigarette smoke
through the broken-out peephole.
If you really don’t want to be liv
ing in die hall, move out Don’t tor
ture your SA for fun (thatfe what
younger siblings are for, for Pete’s
There is a really great sense of
community that can come from being
a part of a floor, and if you don’t want
to be an active part of it, you don’t
It’s always very appreciated, how
ever, if you can try not to be the resi
dent from hell, either.
Itls pretty stupid to risk your right
to housing just for the thrill of doing
something juvenile. It’s always been
amusing to me when someone
attempts something like, oh, for
instance, blowing up half of a build
ing and expects not to get in trouble.
These people are good at acting very
surprised when they get moved off the
floor or evicted. (That one’s kind of a
no-brainer, don’tcha think? I knew
you’d agree with me.)
. ‘ What I’m encouraging you to do
is not to How up buildings, but to get
out that Mr. T costume. If you get pos
itively involved on your floor and
your had and have a healthy respect
for your SA, there will be a lot less
temptation to do the stupid stuff that
could put your butt in a sling.
So play nice. Leave the attitude at
home. Be kind to your student assis
tant. Oh, and don’t forget to feed that
non-dangerous fish.