September 24, 2017

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: This is not ‘us versus them’

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To the Editor: 

The issue of prejudice at Cornell is not an “us versus them” matter. This is a matter for the entire student body.

To generalize prejudice to an entire institution is absurd and something we wouldn’t allow for in, say, generalizing fundamentalist behavior to an entire religion. Greeks are not perfect; but rather than painting the entire system as a source of biases, it is important to recognize that Greek life is just a high-profile organization taking the brunt of repercussions for greater issues. These are issues rooted in the modern political climate and Cornell: an elite, historically wealthy and white institution of scholars. Do we really think that these perpetrators of hate crime suddenly adopted discriminatory behavior upon joining a fraternity? If other organizations (read: student athletics) can disassociate themselves from the same misogynistic or racist behaviors, why is Greek life unable to do the same?

Let’s say you still insist Greek life is a mechanism for hatred. Then go ahead, dismantle Greek life. Then will you continue your witch hunt with student athletes? Secret societies? Even if you are adamant that Greek life is an enabler, it is ignorant to think abolishing the system will suddenly eradicate our problems. If this were true, finals clubs would not have continued clout at Harvard. Trying to squash the Greek system will only produce alternative social hierarchies with less regulation and more toxicity than their predecessor. So instead of pursuing an extreme campaign that is not only logistically improbable but also prone to dangerous alternatives, how about we focus on practical reform?

This should not be an ”us versus them” debate. This should not be a polarizing topic in which you can only be for or against the system. It is important to recognize the faults of Greek life, the faults of the American political climate and the faults of the Cornell community. It is only with collaborative effort, and without pointing fingers, that we will find anything close to a solution.

Sarah Karkoura ’20