April 22, 2013

THOMAS: Inter-faction Mingling

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For my last column of the semester I’m going to have to speak about what seems to be the current “hot topic” at Cornell: Greek life. Recently everything about Greek life has been questioned from its diversity to its very existence. As someone who has interacted with Multicultural Greek Letter Council fraternities, spent two semesters as what is commonly referred to as a “GDI” and recently decided to join an Interfraternity Council fraternity, I believe I can speak from many different points of view. The main problem between these different factions at Cornell — MGLC fraternity members, IFC fraternity members and GDIs — is the complete lack of understanding each group has about the the others.  Having spent quite a bit of time with each of these different groups at Cornell, I can say to everybody: You are not that special.

Every group thinks the others are vastly different from them, however, that is not the case.  Each group is full of diversity. For those of you who have begun to protest saying: “There aren’t any black people in IFC fraternities” or “There aren’t any white people in MGLC organizations,” you must understand that diversity is not restricted to race.  It often angers me when people use the word “diversity” only to disclose that they are simply talking about racial diversity. A group of people with a lot of racial diversity is not necessarily a very diverse group. A group of people of many different races can still have the same interests, backgrounds and mindsets, therefore lacking diversity. However, this is never discussed.

Another serious problem that need to be addressed relates to the way we treat each other here at Cornell. Before I joined a fraternity, I felt as if members of the Greek community were not listening or speaking to me as an equal, however, that quickly changed once I started pledging Sigma Chi. Why is this? I have two theories. One is that those in the Greek community simply do not respect those who are not a part of it.  Another is that there is a disconnect between the two; they simply cannot understand each other due to their respective lack of experience on the other side. I believe my second theory is more accurate as I often see those on either side questioning why they act the way they do. Without being able to come to a place of mutual understanding, only a very awkward exchange can take place.

The only question left to ask is: How can we begin to understand one another?  In my opinion, we need events that encourage the attendance AND interaction between people in MGLC and IFC organizations as well as non-greeks. When was the last time you heard of an MGLC fraternity being invited to an IFC fraternity’s party or vice versa? With Cornell continuing to abolish open parties, the interaction between non-Greeks and Greeks is reaching an all time low.  But why stop at parties? How about some sober interactions?

The answers to these questions could help us begin to understand one another and, shockingly enough, even begin to like one another.  However, for those of you who would like to live in ignorance and criticize those that have decided to live a life a little different from your own: When you find yourself struggling in life outside of Cornell due to your inability to understand those around you just remember: It’s not me, it’s you.

Deon Thomas is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at dthomas@cornellsun.com. It’s Not Me, It’s You appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

Original Author: Deon Thomas