Daniel Wrocherinsky ’22, former Delta Kappa Epsilon
I am dropping because I have lost faith on the ability to reform from inside my fraternity. The culture that is perpetuated is toxic and doesn’t deserve to exist.
A little on my experience as a sophomore rushing guys: every single POC discussed was a point of contention and debate, with some brothers making negative comments without hanging out with the kid they were commenting on.
In one case I was asking people to hang with a POC for over two months. Many commented that they didn’t like him, but I knew that they had not hung out with him because he had told me. At least half of my brothers did not hang out with him until the final weekend before rush was over. They then realized that he was a great kid and ended up accepting him, but I never forgot how much effort it took to have a minuscule amount of diversity.
Time after time it was revealed how totally oblivious many of my brothers were from the minority experience, their patriarchal privilege, elitism, and white privilege.
When we brought up the fact that one of the houses didn’t have enough lights, one member of the frat made a joke that we shouldn’t get new ones because that was the point. The extent to which sexual assault is a problem at this school is glanced over by some, and ignored by others.
Recently within the frat, it had come out that someone had committed rape. Within days once there was talk of abolition of fraternities, some brothers refused to accept that it was a good option because they would only listen and consider dropping if we had laid out an alternative that would allow partying to continue.
Topics of race were like pulling teeth; it took months of badgering for many to acknowledge and actively try to educate themselves, although it seems that this did not inspire people to give up their power in the Greek system.
The lack of sympathy that takes place was horrifying. We don’t deserve the power of shaping part of Vanderbilt social life. We don’t deserve to become the ‘role models’ that incoming first-years look up to and emulate.
We aren’t educated or aware enough to take on this reform. The fact is that a lot of the fraternity didn’t even realize the existence of many of these issues, and still don’t understand how deeply they run. It’s time for us to hand over the reigns to the people who have been living outside of our shrouded, privileged elitism.
On another note about toxic masculinity: The substance abuse is at an extreme level that no first-years deserves to have normalized. Too many kids have developed substance use issues that are not always addressed seriously and are accepted as the norm, and this only changes when the person comes close to death/begins to develop mental health issues/is confronted with going to rehab. This usually happens around sophomore or junior year, however, the mental health effects can be lifelong. Some of my brothers should be dead at this point. Every year for the past 4 years, at least two kids have gone to rehab. Without the title of fraternity it takes away the justification for actions that are idiotic.
Greek life as an institution is too flawed and I hope that in the future it won’t be an option for incoming students. While I realize change will be slow, hopefully either this year or the next, incoming first-years won’t have to deal with all the bullshit.
Trisha Pahawa ’21, former Alpha Delta Pi
Sororities and fraternities are NOT financially inclusive at all and hardly offer accessible scholarships for and same with experience Vanderbilt. I had to work two jobs to pay my dues and loans and would consistently get fined for late dues which was SO frustrating bc I was working my ass off. These rich white people really don’t understand how POCs aren’t handed everything.
There is hardly any diversity [in IFCPH] : the topic of conversation at rush and random chapter events was always centered around “who got with who” and what “cool places and restaurants” they went to that week. This is inherently racist. Not only do white men and women have white women as their “type”, but they treat poc women as “other” as my second week at Vandy I went to an SAE party and got a door slapped in my face and yelled at while another white girl walked in right before me and on front of me just because she knew a brother.
I disliked being used as a diversity stunt. It’s exhausting having to explain the struggles that I go through and why they should care about their racism, and I am literally PAYING to educate these bitches. The fact that a very very specific certain attire has to be worn for rush is not financially sensitive at all and the hair requirements are not understanding of how certain POC hair is not heat compliant.
I always felt like an odd one out. Not to name names (but I will because I hate these bitches) but *name redacted* and *name redacted* and *name redacted all used to talk shit about me right in front of me. I dropped last second first semester for emergency reasons (my dad got into an expensive car accident and semester schedule changes and like fuck these non inclusive bitches) and I was STILL fined over $500. So I scheduled a meeting to talk to them about not doing that and as soon as I walked into the house, they said “what the fuck is she doing here” and “this isn’t her place anymore she needs to leave”. The hypocrisy of these bitches constantly trying to spread inclusivity and constantly trying to model adpi at Vandy as “one of the more inclusive ones” made me laugh in that moment. Bitches like that don’t deserve rights just saying.
Anonymous, former Kappa Kappa Gamma
I literally said I probably wouldn’t join Greek life when I came to Vanderbilt, and I stood by that. I didn’t rush freshman year. I saw everyone in my hall in Hank doing it, and other girls, but really it was more of an outsider-looking-in type thing. I wasn’t that bothered, but I will say I did judge those girls that rushed. It was interesting to see all the different personalities get divided up, girls crying, etc. Boys doing fratty things, and thats when things started to really divide. I saw who associated with who versus when everything was new and fresh and not really separated into certain groups based on ~clout~ and class.
Later on freshman year, and into fall sophomore year, is when I really started seeing how it sucked to not feel included. Alot of the girls I liked were in sororities, and all they talked about was their sorority stuff, and date parties, and I got MAJOOOOOR fomo. Like hearing people have plans, and me always have to ask so and so where to go for them was annoying. I finally got pressured into rushing sophomore year, and rush was fun. It was nice to feel included and finally see what everyone else was talking about. I didn’t get cut from any houses. It felt breezy. I worried about whether they would tokenize me as a black woman, and I also worried about if I would feel included after I actually joined. In my experience, I never really experienced racial discrimination or anything, but I know it was probably there.
My issue was the classism. Once I got in it, I was so overwhelmed by how much I really did not have in common with these girls that grew up in mansions, maid-having, yearly vacations to mexico, having a lake house or a summer house in addition to a normal house, golden goose and gucci belt wearing, have parents pay dues, ask-for-anything-and-receive personalities. It was baffling to me, as a literal working class black woman with a single mom. It just made me feel so embarrassed to be poor. And that can’t really be fixed. What are we gonna do, a working class simulation? I grew up poor, they didn’t. I can become rich, but they already have that.
It’s funny, being looked at twice for something simple like not really trying sushi because I didn’t exactly grow up on it, since it’s considered to me a luxurious food. It seems so micro but it’s something. We just have completely different upbringings. It’s like, why am I in this really? Do I belong in this? I’m working my ass off, for what? Do they actually see me? And then the matter of BLM comes this semester, and I am appalled by my so-called sisters. They don’t seem to care. As if they don’t see that I am Black and these are my people. Being in Greek life at Vanderbilt just felt like I was a means to an end. So I dropped. And I’d do it again and again.
Additionally, not being invited to date parties as much as others has always made me feel like it’s because I’m a POC.
Gulum Yenisehirli ’21, former Kappa Delta
I dropped Kappa Delta last year because I couldn’t pay the dues, and I was threatened to have debt collectors sent to my family’s house to get the money I owed them. This was despite the fact that I had been told over and over for the semester that I was in the sorority that they would never want me to drop for financial reasons and they would find a way to cover the cost for me. But by the end of the semester I was still forced to pay a portion of the bill, which had added up since they had discouraged me from dropping earlier.
Once I was out, a lot of the girls stopped acknowledging me around campus. It was just eye opening, because they tried so hard to seem financially inclusive in the beginning and I wanted to believe that, but at the end of the day the “sisterhood” was entirely based on my ability to pay thousands of dollars to participate.
Hannah Green ’21, former Delta Delta Delta
*TW: mention of sexual assault
I love the girls in my former house and believe it was generally inclusive. However, I think a lot of the houses considered the “most inclusive” are the ones with many members who aren’t compelled to drop because they feel this doesn’t apply to them. Every house is the problem because every house is part of a larger system plagued with racism, homophobia, misogyny, sexual violence, ableism, colorism, classism, and probably every other -ism that are fundamental to the maintenance of these elitist and homogeneous spaces.
I hear a lot of people say they can reform Greek life by having more discussions with their members. But haven’t we realized by now that education and conversations only make us more aware of racism without actually eliminating it? As one of the few Black women in my chapter, I rationalized staying, because I assumed that it was part of my implicit responsibility to offer diverse thoughts. However, no amount of BIPOC perspectives in Greek life will be enough to magically “fix” the system. The increased BIPOC membership or perceived strides in diversity are often accompanied by the colorism few acknowledge. Black women who are lighter-skinned and of a socioeconomic class that can pay the dues are overrepresented in membership because these are the type of Black women that Greek life more readily accepts.
Efforts toward inclusivity or “reform” will only make a better space for those future Black women that are privileged enough to even have the option to join at all. Inclusivity within a house that is inherently exclusive ultimately does little harm reduction. Dropping and focusing on abolishing Greek life is the only logical first step I can take to ensure that the Vanderbilt community is better and more inclusive for ALL future students.
Connor Button ’22, former Delta Tau Delta
*TW: mention of sexual assault
One reason I left Delta Tau Delta was the evident disconnect between denouncing sexual assault as an action and ensuring accountability for sexual assailants within the fraternity.
As a member, I underwent hours of Project Safe training along with my peers. This led to seemingly productive discussions where all members seemed to understand the gravity of sexual assault and pledged to stand against it actionably.
But standing actionably against sexual assault is where my chapter, and I fear the rest of Greek Life, falls short.
This year, I learned of allegations of sexual assault against a member of my chapter, and brought it to the honor board. I later learned that at least four other members knew of these allegations, and chose not to respond actionably. It is not clear what, if any, actions would have been taken on their end, and it is unclear why they hesitated.
During a chapter discussion to address the situation, two members were quick to defend the character of their friend and attempted to separate the action from the person. While I understand the importance of holistically evaluating people, this built upon earlier inaction when made aware of allegations. This later materialized in attempting to silence others using faux-victim concern, which was truly reprehensible. These members routinely failed to act outside of their own self interest when given the critical chance to do so.
After all of this, I became socially cold-shouldered by this former member and his closest friends.
This story is not intended to serve as a pat on my back for doing the right thing. The lesson to be learned from this story is that my chapter spent hours both teaching and discussing the importance of standing against sexual assault, yet its members fall short of action, or worse, when given the chance. Sadly, this was simply the latest iteration of this recurring issue, and one that the chapter has failed to address. I fear the members of my chapter will continue to publicly denounce sexual assault, yet grant exceptions in the case of their friends.
This is the experience I had in Delta Tau Delta, and I certainly hope this is an outlier within the Greek community. However, I fear this is not the case, and rather a systemic issue.