April 18, 2010

In Defense of the “Doucheoisie”

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There are plenty of people at Cornell who join the Greek system to revel in their exclusivity. For the guys, you might see them driving around campus in their SUVs, rocking their “stunna shades,” Polo or Lacoste button-downs and flat-toed dress shoes; whereas you might spot the ladies stumbling home from Johnny O’s on a Friday night with obnoxious boots and leggings. But, as unfortunate as it is that these stereotypes are fulfilled so often, it is important to note that these are just that — stereotypes.

As history has shown time and time again, stereotypes can be exaggerated very easily. They do very little but breed resentment and, especially at Cornell, continue to encourage divisiveness between the Greek system and the rest of campus. Yes, everyone has met the laughable guy who joined his fraternity for its “alumni connections” and social reputation of throwing liquor and money at only the hottest “biddies,” or the makeup-laden sorostitute frat-rat who incessantly displays the letters of her sorority to conceal her own personal insecurities. But students at Cornell only do themselves a disservice when they allow people like that to determine how they view the Greek system as a whole. Compared to other universities, Cornell’s Greek system is quite large and, at roughly one third of the undergraduate population, you can be assured that the scene is more diverse than many might acknowledge.

For many freshmen each year, choosing to go through the rush and pledge processes is one of the most important personal decisions they make. Choosing to enter a brotherhood or sisterhood is not an easy process, with males having to deal with an often grueling pledge period and the women having to spend a stressful rush week in the Ithaca cold. For fraternity pledges especially, there must be some sort of large motivation pushing them to go on because, as anyone who has been through a pledge process can assure you, it would certainly be easier to just try and find a social network outside of the Greek system. This is often what seems to come into the forefront during a discussion of Greek life — what motivates people to join the sometimes exclusive and cutthroat world of fraternities and sororities that can be so reminiscent of an immature, high-school-esque social hierarchy?

The answer to this is really quite complex, as each and every person makes their own decisions with their own reasoning. But, regardless of any other personal reasons, there is usually one common thread in the decision: People want to have fun. This is not to say that you cannot have fun outside of the Greek system, because you certainly can, but Greek life opens the doors to a wide range of social (and by that, I usually mean drinking) activities that you really couldn’t find anywhere else. From wine tours to mixers and the occasional open parties, the Greek system offers social opportunities that, when you decide you want to make the most out of your social college experience, are hard to pass up. When else in your life are you going to be able to go on sixty-person wine tours or have paint parties? Likely never. And where are you going to do that in college? In the Greek system.

That alone is fairly non-controversial, as I don’t see why anyone could hate on somebody who is just trying to have some fun. The problem comes when people want these social opportunities at the expense of others; when “fratdom” prevails only from the desire to make oneself feel like sweet shit. These are people who may have gotten ego-checked a little hard in high-school and came into college desperate to be in a “top five fraternity,” get the connections for that I-banking internship, know all of the “cool kids” and hook up with the “hottest bitches” (change some of the words and this applies for the ladies as well). Greek life is their life. It is all they care about. And because of this, it is these pathetic boys and girls who are most vocally self-promoting and defensive against any genuine criticisms of the Greek system. But regardless, even a vocal minority is still in the minority, and these “Brosef Stalins” whom I criticize still only make up a very small percentage of Cornell’s Greek system. By no means do the rest of us in the Greek system have to prove anything or apologize to anyone for the behavior of our peers. So, if you want to think of the Greek system as a giant monolith obsessed with the awesomeness of “the scene,” by all means do so. But if you want to expand your horizons at such a cultured institution as Cornell, you really owe it to yourself to not judge anyone based on their membership, or lack thereof, in a fraternity or sorority, or as Sun columnist Munier Salem ’10 called it in his column last week, the Doucheoisie. I’m fine letting the Greek system own this word, as long as it’s known that there are those of us in the Doucheoisie who are less douchey than others.

Joseph Pantoga is a sophomore in the College of Engineering and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He may be contacted at jdp233@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Joseph Pantoga