Not on my watch
Columns by Mitchell Chapman, Features Editor and Vice President of The Beacon
Columnist’s note: The aim of this article is to talk about Greek life and Greek letters, not specifically on the local, but on the national scale, and in general. This does not attempt to comment on any local organizations at MCLA or the former North Adams State College, nor was it the intention of the author to do so.
If you know me, chances are you might catch me in my fraternity’s letters. Here’s what they mean to me.
Like many organizations, Greek organizations stand for a set of principles and values that determine everything they do, on every level of their internal and external governance. For many, their letters serve as a symbol for this set of values, earned through the process of becoming a new member of these organizations.
It is not easy to be Greek, for unlike a club, membership into a Greek fraternity or sorority (or a Greek society in general) is something that has to be earned and not given. It is a privilege, and not a right, as you have to exemplify the principles of the organization you are joining before you can wear their letters. A Greek’s letters have the value they put into it, which must be maintained even after they are earned.
It’s a lot like swimming. If your organization exemplifies values of good community and brotherhood or sisterhood, that is what your organization and letters will inherently mean, regardless of the organization’s principles, and, as such, in order for an organization’s principles to mean anything, they must be upheld. Otherwise, it’s just talk – hot air. Likewise, if your organization largely performs acts that create an unhealthy community, such as lies, condescension and disregard for the law, that is what your letters will come to mean.
At the end of the day, what you do and not who you are is what truly matters for a Greek organization. No organization is invincible, no matter how long their history, their status of affiliation, or the money backing them, and it is often those organizations that think that they are invincible that fade away the fastest. This is the twenty-first century, where hazing is not tolerated and when the notion of what brotherhood and sisterhood mean are beginning to change. The social/party aspect of Greek life is dwindling down, making way for routinely maintained academic and comradely environments that actively improve and bring out the best in its members and its surrounding community.
The Greek environment in the 1990s and early 2000s has left for good, and, while some of its echoes remain, they even those echoes will soon depart, leaving forth what I hope to be a new tomorrow for Greeks moving forward, one very different than that of the past, but one that hopefully gives new meaning and respectability to what it means to be Greek.