To claim, as Kevin Cheng and Aaron Friedman did, that I attacked “the personal and academic integrity of students in the Greek system by implying that students in Greek life cannot be trusted to manage their own time” combines hyperbole with reductive nonsense and has no relation to what I wrote.
Why are these organizations tolerated by universities? We know from studies that alcohol abuse is more common among those belonging to the Greek system than among other students and that membership in residential Greek organizations is associated with binge drinking and marijuana usage through midlife. As if that was not bad enough, a recent New York Times article on the University of Alabama’s sorority rush highlighted the superficiality and frivolity of this system and the significant cost in dollars that membership entails.
Some Cornell students are voicing a sense of disappointment as Cornell sororities and fraternities shift all events and activities to virtual. Despite the challenges, many students showed optimism in flexible process.
Work-hard, play-hard, blah blah blah, Cornellians know to have fun, blah blah blah. People party here — we get it, whether we like it or not. But, as a 17-year-old applicant a year ago, at a time when I thought I’d be partying instead of writing articles about partying on Friday nights, Cornell’s intellectual-partying bimorph was an intriguing appeal, as it is for each class’s prospective students. Admissions ambassadors are well aware that “work-hard, play-hard” is a very powerful pitch to all senioritis-ridden applicants seeking a prestigious degree. So, if we look past the apparent tensions between administration and Greek Life — the source of nearly all organized partying — maybe the two are on the same team after all.
American drinking culture, especially male drinking culture, is seriously flawed. No matter what anyone may say, there is an implicit pressure on young adults to consider drinking a fun pastime with no serious consequences. The explicit pressure is largely nonexistent, but the status quo, especially in Greek life, encourages drinking. Our worldview is to see drinking as innocuous. If someone chooses to abstain from alcohol, that choice is accepted — but usually with reluctance and without in-depth consideration of the reasons behind their abstinence.
Greek life is one of the oldest and most controversial systems at Cornell. The current structure of Greek life that we’re familiar with has been decades in the making, and in this week’s Solar Flashback, we wanted to take a look back at some of the most significant policy changes involving social Greek organizations. As Greek life reforms come into the spotlight once again, it’s important to understand its history in order to gain insights for future change.
A Panhellenic Council proposal to freeze social mixers failed to collect unanimous support on Wednesday, despite a majority of Panhel sorority delegates voting in favor of the contentious plan to stop mixing with Interfraternity Council fraternities until the IFC undertook safety reforms.
How do we create institutional change? At a University that has existed since 1865, we fall victim to systemic problems that persisted since long before the conception of Cornell. When evaluating the campus problems we seek solutions for — issues that affect one, many or all Cornellians — the sheer length of the list makes taking action seem overwhelming and unachievable. But what if we take one of the institutional problems we are facing and put forth a conversation and some action items to begin to tackle it? Many organizations on this campus, like Cornell Minds Matter, are champions of this approach and are creating positive institutional change.
I urge members of the Panhellenic community to consider the power we yield in regard to changing unsafe party culture on this campus. I ask that Panhellenic’s 13 chapters unanimously vote to stop attending mixers at fraternity houses until the following demands are met by the Interfraternity Council President’s Council and Executive Board:
An action plan demonstrating tangible ways they will cease dirty rushing, including forms of punishment for chapters that engage in dirty rush events. A commitment to make their events safer in the following ways:
Scanning IDs of every individual in attendance and fully marking over or under 21 years of age. Having Cayuga’s Watchers, who are students trained in both bystander intervention and sober monitoring, at every event hosted by a fraternity. At least one sober monitor at every exit of the chapter house to check that individuals leaving the house are able to arrive home safely, and have sober people offer rides for those who need transportation home.