Members of Greek organizations are typically excluded from any list of acceptable “victims” that UCSB students are allowed to publicly express sympathy towards. And yet, no other demographic in our school has faced the same level of institutional persecution and condemnation.
The past year in particular has seen a major crackdown. Four Greek organizations have been forced to shut down over the past year, and the remaining ones are being stifled by a set of strict rules that, among other things, ban alcohol entirely at chapter houses if more than 30 students are present. Because Greeks are such invisible victims, we as a community have not spoken out on their behalf, but we should.
Why do I care? I myself have never been part of a fraternity, and I have zero interest in ever joining one. However, I am deeply concerned by the way the Greeks are being treated, because I recognize that part of living in a free society means advocating for the rights of individuals and demographics you do not necessarily identify with.
If UCSB can disregard Greek students’ freedoms, why do you think they care about yours? Will UCSB go on to ban other clubs and student organizations it dislikes? Will it ban drinking for all students? Some colleges do; Dartmouth did earlier this year. The UC system recently banned tobacco on campus. How much do you trust it to advocate for your freedoms?
First they came for the frat boys, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a frat boy…
A cynic, it is said, sees the price of everything and the value of nothing. If this is true, then UCSB has chosen to view Greek life through a lens of utter cynicism.
They see the price of the Greek system on our school — boisterousness, noise complaints and occasionally even more serious crimes. What they do not see is the immeasurable value that so many people derive from it. People join fraternities and sororities to achieve some very normal human goals, including greater meaning, belonging and satisfaction. They are, in other words, pursuing happiness. Many are successful. If UCSB would take the time to listen to its students and hear some of them speak about how the Greek system has benefited them, it might be surprised.
Are there some unsavory individuals who deserve to be punished for their actions? Absolutely; and they should be punished … on an individual basis, without shutting down the organizations they are part of.
No other group would accept this sort of collective punishment. What if the state of California held UCSB to the same standard that UCSB holds the Greek system to? Our school would have been shut down long ago for a plethora of offenses ranging from violent crimes such as sexual assaults and knifings to widespread lesser offenses such as embezzlement, academic dishonesty and repeated violations of free expression.
No other group would accept this sort of collective punishment. What if the state of California held UCSB to the same standard that UCSB holds the Greek system to?
In Genesis Chapter 18, when God tells Abraham that he plans to destroy Sodom, Abraham responds, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city?” And God responds, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Abraham asks the question over and over again, with smaller numbers each time, until God finally says, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
For those inclined to dismiss the above passage as outdated, consider for a moment how ironic it is that a cruel and primitive people who viewed gay sex as a capital crime were still, in certain ways, ahead of us at UCSB, with our supposedly enlightened and progressive morality. Whatever their flaws, the ancient Hebrews at least understood that group punishment is wrong.
I propose UCSB be as magnanimous towards the Greek system as Abraham was towards Sodom; if there are 10 righteous souls in a fraternity or sorority, if there are 10 righteous souls in the entire Greek system, then it should not be destroyed for the sake of those 10.
Nonetheless, I do not believe it will come down to such a small number. There are probably far fewer wrongdoers in the Greek system than some of the current fearmongers would have you believe. While it would be a miracle if there were no bad apples at all, the current anti-Greek hysteria stinks of a moral panic.
Perhaps one day soon, the demonization of the Greek system will take its place in history and psychology textbooks as the great moral panic of the 2010s, the latest in a long line of panics including Satanic ritual child abuse, “rainbow parties,” McCarthyism and many others. When this day comes, history will look more kindly on the people who advocated skepticism and due process than those who rushed to condemn without asking questions.
The recent scandal at the University of Virginia should have served as a wake-up call. After Rolling Stone magazine published a powerfully written allegation of gang rape against one UVA fraternity, every single Greek organization on campus was shut down without due process, and there was a wave of moral outrage which included calls for the state to treat fraternities “as criminal street gangs under state law and seize their assets.”
Soon, however, major discrepancies began to emerge in the Rolling Stone account, and a police investigation into the alleged incident turned up nothing. Rolling Stone later retracted the article with an apology for its shoddy journalism. Ideally, this scandal — and the public showpiece of UVA’s shameful overreaction — would have put an end to anti-Greek hysteria in our country once and for all.
But my hopes are not high. In the year since UVA’s scandal, there has been no change of tone, no renewed call for due process and restraint. The anti-Greek moral busybodies were happy to let us forget the whole thing. Even after the Rolling Stone article was proven false, UVA still forced Greek organizations to agree under duress to a set of strict new rules, although these were admittedly less strict than our current rules at UCSB.
If UVA didn’t learn their lesson, why should we?
Jason Garshfield wants the Greeks of UCSB to fight as hard for freedom as the Greeks in the movie “300” did.
As a former member of the Greek system, I completely agree with Jason. UCSB seems to think that Greek life is the source of most moral issues. But it is plagued with issues that are everywhere in IV. Shutting down fraternities will not solve anything. Still, UCSB and the police have been cracking down on everyone in IV. It seems that their tactic is to gain control of IV by restricting freedoms of all.
What people tend to overlook is the fact that Greeks have implemented a structure to maintain parties by eliminating a lot of risks. While many people see these clubs as exclusive, a lot of times they are just taking the necessary precautions to keep their brothers safe. Of course the school see’s Greek Life as an easy target, but if it paid attention to the amount of philanthropy work and alumni network Greek Life establishes, it might want to reconsider its stance. UCSB is not a wealthy private schools and members in Greek Life here do not represent the negative… Read more »
Great article. I’d like to see a follow up article on the fact that UCSB suspended Alpha Phi for showing their nipples in their own house and deemed it “sexual harassment” has been pissing me off for quite some time. I don’t know why this isn’t being held as a sexist charge. More so I am angry at the alpha phi girls for not standing up for themselves and for UCSB walk all over them.
Allegedly UCSB has this rule where they can suspend an organization for questioning their rulings on the grounds of harassment. Doesn’t surprise me. The school just doesn’t want to deal with any of it. Don’t be mad at them (or anyone else, for that matter) for not standing up for themselves – be mad at the school for taking away their freedom to do so. I would expect more of this kind of thing in the future.
Did you just compare the Greek system to Sodom…? The problem with that analogy was that Sodom was actually filled with immorality. If you actually read the Bible you would know that the people of Sodom actually attempted to rape the angels that visited. The Greek system isn’t all bad. It’s the image and stereotypes of the Greek system is what’s being criticized. By comparing the Greek system to Sodom, you’re either saying 1) everyone in the Greek system is definitively evil and immoral minus a few or 2) Sodom is actually full of good people with a few bad… Read more »
Did you miss the paragraph where I said “Nonetheless, I do not believe it will come down to such a small number. There are probably far fewer wrongdoers in the Greek system than some of the current fearmongers would have you believe”? I believe that most people in the Greek system are good, and that the wrongdoers that do exist should be punished on an individual basis, and I used a rather colorful analogy to illustrate this point. My argument would have been perfectly clear if you had taken the time to read a bit more carefully, but perhaps reading… Read more »
What’s beginning to happen is that the Greek system is going its own way at some campuses with the support of their national organizations. Recently at Cal Poly, Pi Kappa Alpha was suspended for six years by campus. End result: Pike held fall rush and continues to function well in the community. It learned it doesn’t have to be a recognized student organization any more. It recruited 60 new members via the Internet, continues to participate in philanthropies and other events, and maintains its strong brotherhood. All as an independent entity. The end result of all this may be that… Read more »
That’s brilliant. I would love it if the Greeks did the same thing here. They don’t need the school.
I could not possibly agree with this more and feel as if this article is more necessary. Members of Greek life don’t act in a less responsible or more boisterous manner than the general public of Isla Vista. In fact, they have to tip toe around because everyone is so quick to criticize them. Members of Greek life have minimum GPA standards and philanthropic requirements, and are responsible for an entire organization if they act in an irresponsible manner rather than simply themselves.
Hey Jason, this is an excellent article. The political correctness that UCSB’s administration fights for (which is really just an image) is completely biased and hypocritical. Awesome job.
Very well-written and accurate article. Just because the Greek System doesn’t fit with the stereotypical persecuted population, it doesn’t get the same sympathy despite drastic mistreatment by the school.
Lol cue the white boy pity-party. I understanding the need for an accessible and balanced press, but as for the Nexus, the voice that you grant just one sad white man who has qualms with progressive politics, public institutions, and his masculinity is frankly inappropriate.
Bravo. Yet another regressive claim that holding privileged people and institutions accountable for violence has somehow created a system of “reverse” oppression where the systems in need of the most regulating are somehow now victims of systemic control.
I wonder if this author would argue that prosecuting a few Wall Street firms for fraud is somehow making victims out of Wall Street?
If people were being punished who were not guilty, I would say that. Wouldn’t you?
Jason never said that perpetrators of violence should not be punished, but that innocent people should not be be punished for the actions of other simply because the two people are associated by group.
Something tells me that you never bothered reading the article.
Are you sure you understand the need for an accessible and balanced press? I doesn’t seem like it.
Black hatred of whites and reflexiveattacks on their rights does nothing to assist black aspirations. White guilt has been appealed to in the never ending quest for special privileges beyond the point of diminishing returns.If bigoted blacks and spineless administrators will not protect the constitutional rights of white students, whose relatives own the university and can do with it it as they think proper, then what isto be expected from them for people who are, first and foremost, a collective pain in the ass?
This is hilarious. French tragedy, Beirut bombings, earthquakes all in the course of one weekend. Black lives being stolen all across the country everyday and the issue you choose to write about is the persecution of the greek system? Like seriously, that’s your main concern? Greek system. If your main concern is clubs on school campuses getting shutdown then I’m sorry but you’re wasting your education because you clearly know nothing about the real world.
You have no right to marginalize this issue by putting it in the context of these recent tragedies. Nowhere in the article did he assert that Greek life persecution is at the same level of concern as these recent events. However, this doesn’t mean that this issue isn’t an important one or that it doesn’t deserve discussion. This persecution is a clear threat to basic liberties, and if you don’t think that is important to be discussed then you’re the one who is wasting your education. Here in the real world we have to recognize the slippery slope of the… Read more »
I agree with James and Brandon. This campus faces bigger problems than just the “demonization of Greek life”. Take a second to think about the amount of racism and sexism this campus faces on a daily basis. The minorities here are the ones receiving the short end of the stick- not Greek life. It’s clear that your white privilege has allowed you to oversee bigger institutional failures in place than just strict rules placed on an organization. Organizations that continue to be supporters of sexual violence as well as racism/cultural appropriation. How about next time you spend your time defending… Read more »
You have blindly assumed that greek life as a whole is full of white, racist and sexist individuals. I am in a sorority and I can confidently say that the women in my house, as well as countless other greek members across campus, are diverse, talented, driven and accepting individuals that come from ALL walks of life. I cannot confidently say that about the majority of other people that I have met during my time at UCSB. I also know a lot of greek members that also consider themselves minorities – the two terms are not incompatible. Jason’s entire point… Read more »
Oh yes, the “check your privilege fallacy”.
We live in the most inclusive region in the entire United States. You attend one of the finest universities in the country, at a premium price. I highly doubt you’r anywhere near as persecuted as you are.
Now, if you go to my hometown, that all changes.
There is a response to this column posted I encourage everyone to look at it
I’m sorry but can we think for a moment about victims of sexual assault? You want to say that because fraternities and sororities are being shut down and targeted that they are somehow the most victimized? There are countless women who become victimized through rape and the institutions in place either make them too scared to come forward, or deny them when they do. Their physical and mental well beings are put at stake, their bodies violated, but because you derive joy from being in a club that is taken away due to a choice few people you are somehow… Read more »
Why are so many of you so eager to punish people who don’t commit sexual assault? Doesn’t that push you further away from achieving your goals? Which way do you think people who are teetering on top of the ethical fence are going to fall if they know they’re going to be punished even if they behave properly?
Teetering on the fence of whether to rape or not?
Sensible people should be wary of witch hunts:the louder the screeching, the less the basis for the hunt. American campi are infested with gender identity coteries which reassure themselves with persecution of male junior faculty and male students they dislike. If you grant power to such folk on the basis of how loud they are, you’ll soon find out how quickly coteries can metastasize into covens, and faddish injustice can become institutionalized.
You don’t sound as smart as you think you do. And campi is not the plural of campus.
So you’re saying that because we are demanding justice for the victims that now people are going to rape women anyways because they know they will get punished either way??? What a terrible, awful, backwards mindset
I didn’t say that demanding justice will make them rape. By “punish” I really meant negative reinforcement. You’re taking away their incentive not to rape. Some fraction of rapists are psychopaths. You can disincentivize rape by taking away something else they’re interested in, fraternity membership for instance. Hopefully you agree that frats come with benefits that a high functioning psychopath would find appealing. If you take away the frat because some members of some frats have sexually assaulted women, then you take away the incentive. Seeing as most members of frats are still pre-adults, as are most students in college,… Read more »
YOU SHOULDN’T NEED AN INCENTIVE NOT TO RAPE PEOPLE.
No shit you illiterate fucking idiot. Nothing you can do is ever going to change all people. Some people will always be shitty.
You betta. Call them out on their BS. I love you and support you as so many others do.
Jason what a great article, oh jason YAAAASSSSS, Jason Jason Jason Jason you have TRULY targeted one of the KEY issues on Campus. Thank you for enlightening us on how HARD it is to be a Greek Life member. Had no idea their struggle was soooooo real