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

  • Don Noveau

    Regarding Sarah Karkoura’s article “This is not us versus them”, I couldn’t agree more. If you checked the published principles of every fraternity and sorority present at Cornell, I doubt you would find any of them espouse racism. In fact, you would find concerted efforts on the part of the international organizations, and the local chapters, to increase diversity and increase educational programming to avoid the stereotype that is so commonly applied to Greeks. Greeks band together for mutual improvement and mutual respect. And yes, they are 18-24 year old males. Not everything they do is so wonderful; some of it is immature and thoughtless. But what you will also find are some individuals from elite backgrounds, and others from not so special parts of society. At one fraternity I could name, there are several international brothers who come from homes nothing like most of us have ever endured. There are others there who come from backgrounds at the other, higher, end of the income / power spectrum. They come in every color. They are all elite, as is almost everyone reading this, just because of thier relationship to Cornell. They are brothers, and they work together to keep my fraternity viable. They will stay in touch for years to come, and they find the recent racist events on campus, and nationally, incomprehensible and abhorrent. Greeks are a significant part of the Cornell Community, and they are perfectly suited to be a part of a resistance to hate. The ones I know practice this every day. Donald A. Noveau ‘70