Why Abolish

Anonymous

My biggest problem with Greek Life is that, as a member of the LGBT community who has struggled with coming out over the past few years, I have felt the worst when I tell my friends in Greek Life (or they find out somehow) that I am bisexual.

I have been fetishized and slut shamed for my sexuality to the point where I don’t feel comfortable sharing about myself or going out to parties. 

Sorry to let all the frat boys know — but I don’t want to have a threesome with you and another girl I have never met.

I am also not a makeout buddy for drunk straight women who have also fetishized bi and lesbian women while still being straight.

I am literally a normal human and I don’t understand why these groups think it’s okay to use me for my body in a way that goes beyond the misogyny that I expect to deal with in frats.

This is another level of disrespect that I have rarely encountered outside of Vandy’s Greek Life.

I am not saying that it doesn’t happen in other instances outside Greek Life, but it is far more prevalent in party settings and specifically frat parties

Although I continue to deal with homophobia from other groups, Greek Life and specifically fraternities have made me feel the worst.

I am left out of conversations about childhoods, vacations, spring break, etc. because I don’t have similar experiences as those who have had luxury in their life.

Listening to people in frats and srats talk shit about people who haven’t paid their dues even though they had enough money to go shopping the past weekend makes me sick.

Equating a basic need of clothing to Greek Life dues is just disgusting and angering.

Mehdi Sijelmassi ’21

As a first-gen student from an immigrant and low-income family, I had no idea what Greek Life was until the summer before my senior year of high school. Even then, I completely disregarded it because I expected college to be a place where people with mutual interests would become friends, and that there would be no judgement involved. 

And that’s how it was for the first couple of weeks at Vandy: I was friends with all the guys on my floor. Didn’t matter if they were a rich white kid from Jersey, or my roommate, Vishnu, and I was making friends with people all across campus. I had no intentions to rush, as I felt the social life at college was panning out as I had imagined. There was no need to put that extra financial burden on my family

But, once I mentioned that to the guys on my floor, shit changed real quick. The hype when we saw each other at bars stopped completely, no greetings as we passed each other on campus…they almost completely cut me off. 

Once they had all pledged, I went to a Sig Nu party, and white guy from my floor who I had been friends with until this point told myself, a BIPOC, and two other guys from my floor, who are also BIPOC, that we needed to know a brother to get in, with the cheesiest smirk I had ever seen.

At that point, I realized that Greek Life at Vandy was exclusionary by nature. People feel entitled because of some Greek letters they wear on a hoodie, and completely disregard people outside of the system

I have a lot of people I genuinely love and that I am great friends with in Greek Life, but I’ve seen too many people be completely cast out from social life on campus just because they decided not to rush, and I hate it. It poisons the campus culture, and leaves a significant portion of the student body (let’s not even get started on what proportion of that is POC and/or low-income) feeling like they’re not truly at home on campus

The financial privileges it harbors are insane too. There are two different realities on campus, and lower-income folks are forced into trying to relate to the life higher-income people’s parents provide for them, whereas the latter’s lives are completely disregarded and shunned.

You are deluding yourself if you think the stratification of social life through the Greek system on campus doesn’t contribute to and foster inequities on our campus. I tried so long to convince myself otherwise, and I tried to integrate within the system or change it, but I realized those actions are unfruitful. 

Listen to what the women on our campus are saying about Greek Life and what terrible experiences they have had as a result of the system Greek Life is built on and promotes. Listen to what Black people, especially Black women, have been saying about their experiences with racism as members of various houses. Listen to what LGBTQ+ people have said about their experiences with homophobia in Greek Life. If after all that, you STILL think attending some session on inclusivity is going to fix anything and “champion diversity”, you obviously haven’t thought about this hard enough. 

I rushed sophomore year because I wanted to fit in and be part of a system I felt completely foreign to. But that’s exactly why I ended up dropping rush; I just couldn’t accept being a part of a fraternity and I think it showed in the way I interacted with frat members. I was putting on a facade to try to feel integrated into campus, but it just couldn’t work. I have moved past it and found my place at Vandy, but I don’t want any other first-gen students, low-income students, or POC coming in to have to experience that. Our life in college should not be diminished and downplayed because of a system that was built on excluding us. It’s bullshit. The future cohort of Vanderbilt kids in those groups deserve to feel accepted, welcomed, and as an actual valued part of campus.  

I remember one experience that really displayed to me the entitlement of some of these kids. I was going around various Greek houses to talk about Camp Kesem, a camp for kids whose parents are affected by cancer, for a couple minutes during their chapter to recruit some counselors and reach out to a part of campus that is pretty underrepresented in our cohort. Most went fine, but at Sig Nu, most of the guys refused to listen to a cause outside of their scope of interest. They were talking over us, on their computers, or straight up just on their phones and laughing with their friends. 

I wasn’t even mad for us; I was mad on behalf of Camp Kesem kids who have faced more hardships than most of these frat guys ever have, and still couldn’t merit attention from an organization that will claim they are “involved in campus” and “care about inclusion”. 

We need to abolish Greek Life; it just has to happen. And if you can’t imagine a life without your formals, chapter meetings, or Greek GroupMe’s, you need to take a look at yourself and see how the rest of us have been living this whole time.

Anonymous

*TW: mention of sexual assault

I can think of many women who have been assaulted by fraternity brothers, and then gaslit and publicly shamed by other members of the frat when the women spoke up. Thankfully, I have not experienced this, but I am well aware that it happens, and it’s vile.

That being said, I’ve still had negative experiences with men in Greek life. At one Delt (Delta Tau Delta) party I attended freshman year, I still remember a man I didn’t know holding me tightly against him while I tried to push him off. He wouldn’t listen when I said “let go of me.” This went on for a few minutes until one of my friends finally pulled me away from him. Later, another man (also who I didn’t know) reached around me and grabbed my crotch. I don’t know if either of these men were members of Delt, but it was enough to make me stop going to their parties. Just because everyone is standing close together doesn’t mean I should have to worry about being harassed.

I will say that at this same party, some of the fraternity brothers would check on me if they saw a man grinding on me. They’d ask some variant of “Do you know this guy?”/“Are you okay with this?” I appreciated this. However, they only asked this when the men grinding on me were black. When the guys grinding on me were white boys, no one said anything.

I also have a friend who got very drunk and a Delt guy had sex with her. I don’t know if she considers this rape, but from what she’s told me, it seems to fit the definition.

I haven’t interacted much with other frats. I know that the Delt guys have a reputation for being the “nice ones”, but even with them, I don’t feel safe. I would be very scared to see what the “bad ones” are like.

I also think Greek test banks are really unfair. Membership in Greek life — which is determined in large part by wealth, beauty, and connections — should not give you an academic advantage over the rest of the student body. Getting access to academic resources because you’re privileged enough to be in Greek life isn’t right.

As a woman, I would never ever feel safe in a frat house. Honestly, I don’t even feel safe when I’m near a bunch of Greek guys. I’ve heard so much about Greek culture from my friends who are in it or have been harmed by it. I know there are plenty of decent guys in IFC, but I know there’s some horrible ones, too, and they scare me enough to stay away. I’ve been assaulted before. I don’t want to be near predators, or people who protect predators, and so many Greek guys fit that bill.

Anonymous

*TW: mention of sexual assault

I didn’t know anything about Greek life before stepping campus. It was an alien world to me as the daughter of immigrants and someone who attended a working/middle class public school. Yet in my four years at Vandy, I learned many disturbing things about Greek Life.

From the drug and alcohol abuse it promotes which makes students believe its normal to black out every weekend and do hard drugs on a very regular basis. Most of us know someone who has a problem. I’m not saying this as someone who didn’t party or drink. At my first Greek party, a frat brother came up to my friend and kissed her and said “welcome to Greek life.” Then there’s sexual assault, which is so common at events like formals or Gulf Shores that some women experience it multiple times in one trip, and Project Safe always experiences a higher number of visitors right after. 

Lastly, racism: can we just talk about how KA’s honorary founder is Robert E. Lee who fought for the Confederacy?! Not only are these institutions racist to their core, but they also prevent members from attending events that could provide important anti-racist education. 

Brittany Packnett came to speak my freshmen year about BLM and gave an amazing speech, but it was on a Monday evening, so none of Greek Life was in attendance because of chapter meetings, when they were the people who needed to hear it the most

Orgs constantly have to schedule around chapters, and in my experience, many Greeks only come to events for the GME swipe and then leave, which is disrespectful to everyone who works hard to organize events.

I come from a middle class background and for a lot of my childhood my family didn’t have that much money. My parents sacrificed so much so that I could attend this school. However, my family is very well off in comparison to most people in the U.S.; but at Vandy, it was the opposite

All the money I spent in college had to come from me which meant I worked jobs every year to do fun things with friends. My laptop broke sophomore year and I didn’t have one for months which was really hard. One girl in Greek life told me to just buy a MacBook like that’s something everyone can do. That same year, my professor casually asked who had been to a Ritz Carlton Hotel and more than half of my class (which consisted of many Greek life members) raised their hand like it was a completely normal thing to do. Spoiler: it’s not. 

Anonymous

When I first got to Vandy, I did not think I wanted to join Greek Life, and it was not a huge deal at first. However, once second semester came around I immediately regretted it. It was super hard to find friends, and even if I found my way into a frat party, I was met with looks like “you don’t belong here, what”.

I considered rushing as a Sophomore, but I was too focused on school to be able to attend all the events. I needed to bring up my grades because my freshman year depression (largely groomed by my exclusion from Vandy social [Greek] life) really tanked my GPA. Even if I got a bid, I did not think I could afford it. Not to mention, the classist divide made me feel like it was only worth it if I joined a “top” fraternity, and due to my personality and background I knew I would never get a bid. I am not gay, but I am slightly more feminine.

Anyways, Sophomore year it got even worse. It seemed like without Greek Life I was not going to have a social life because with Sophomore rushes it really felt like every social person was in Greek Life. I couldn’t even enjoy football games because I couldn’t get into tailgates, and even if I could, again I felt like I did not belong. This is all to say, I don’t know how much abolishing Greek Life itself will do to solve the lowkey racism and highkey classism that exists at Vanderbilt because people will form these groups without the official title anyway (i.e. “apes”), but it would help to make it decreasingly socially acceptable. Hopefully this helps people realize that exclusion may make you feel better, but it hurts others way more. So think about that next time you think you’re cool because your frat turns so many people away at the door. 

I have a lot of friends in Greek Life (that just so happen to be white), who have made racially charged jokes and comments about POC in front of me. I can only assume because I act so “white” that they think I won’t mind. They only see my skin color when it is time to tokenize me.

Anonymous

As someone who has served on an exec board of a cultural organization for a couple of years, I have had multiple issues with Greek Life during my time at Vanderbilt. From seeing Greek orgs get precious student organization space despite having a house to store their stuff in, to seeing hoards of people with Greek letters on their shirts come to the cultural education events my organization hosts to swipe for the D&I GME, take food, and leave before the event even starts, I have always known Greek Life to be a system that has a lot of power and influence while arguably making very little positive contributions to campus culture

One of my most negative experiences with Greek Life happened very recently. With the 208 and 210 houses deemed unusable this past semester, the only way Non-Greek organizations could host social events on campus was to partner with a fraternity that had a house. Because of this, my organization decided to partner with an IFC fraternity for the afterparty for our cultural showcase. In the week before the afterparty, we required that people who were planning on attending put themselves on a guest list that would close the day before the party. The form was easily accessible via google form and open to everyone. Ahead of time, the fraternity and my organization agreed to deny entry to people who weren’t on the guest list. While I knew this fraternity had some problematic people in it, I was okay with the partnership because I felt that they were mostly harmless and this was the only way my organization could host a party on-campus, making it accessible to most people. However, I started to get a bad feeling in the couple of days before when I would see instagram stories/social media posts from the fraternity members calling our afterparty, “the biggest party of the year” and one that “everyone needs to attend.” In reality, the afterparty was supposed to be a space for participants of the showcase (who were mostly POC) to celebrate. Unfortunately, these feelings were made worse when I got texts in my board chat during the afterparty saying that the fraternity members who were bouncers were denying entry to dancers in the showcase who had forgotten to fill out the guest list form, but letting in their frat bros/friends who had forgotten to fill out the form and in addition, some of those guys couldn’t even name a single person who participated in the showcase.  

While I know some people are going to say, “it’s their house and their rules!” Our two organizations had an agreement beforehand, and it’s obvious that the frat was making exceptions for the people that “knew a brother.” Additionally, I think it’s ridiculous Non-Greek orgs have to jump through hoops subject to the rules of predominantly White spaces to have an accessible social event for our members. No one is saying that every person in IFC/Panhellenic Greek Life is bad, and for some, it’s a vital support system on campus. However, people in Greek Life still have to acknowledge that they majorly benefit from an oppressive system that many times, invades POC spaces.

Anonymous

Greek Life created a major divide between me and my friends, ultimately leading me to stop interacting with them. When I did this, they accused me of being abrasive and cold. Consequently, most of my freshman and sophomore years were incredibly isolating.

Additionally, as part of the autism spectrum, I was told numerous times by members of Kappa Sigma and Pi Kappa Alpha that I wasn’t wanted for being socially awkward. Greek members also singled me out by accusing me of using my disability as a crutch for my shortcomings. Further, the financial requirements for even considering joining were also major barriers to accessing this part of Vanderbilt. To this day, I view these organizations as pipelines for rich, white students to further their wealth through personal career networks while partying in exclusive cliques

Anonymous

*TW: mention of homophobia

My biggest problem with Greek Life is that, as a member of the LGBT community who has struggled with coming out over the past few years, I have felt the worst when I tell my friends in Greek Life (or they find out somehow) that I am bisexual.

I have been fetishized and slut shamed for my sexuality to the point where I don’t feel comfortable sharing about myself or going out to parties. 

Sorry to let all the frat boys know — but I don’t want to have a threesome with you and another girl I have never met.

I am also not a makeout buddy for drunk straight women who have also fetishized bi and lesbian women while still being straight.

I am literally a normal human and I don’t understand why these groups think it’s okay to use me for my body in a way that goes beyond the misogyny that I expect to deal with in frats.

This is another level of disrespect that I have rarely encountered outside of Vandy’s Greek Life.

I am not saying that it doesn’t happen in other instances outside Greek Life, but it is far more prevalent in party settings and specifically frat parties. 

Although I continue to deal with homophobia from other groups, Greek Life and specifically fraternities have made me feel the worst.

I am left out of conversations about childhoods, vacations, spring break, etc. because I don’t have similar experiences as those who have had luxury in their life.

Listening to people in frats and srats talk shit about people who haven’t paid their dues even though they had enough money to go shopping the past weekend makes me sick.

Equating a basic need of clothing to Greek Life dues is just disgusting and angering.

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