To the Editor:
I’m writing to address two issues that stem from the recent The Free Press/Greek scandal.
First I am amazed at the level this imbroglio with the stolen issues of The Free Press has reached almost as much as I was amazed at the level of insecurity shown in the actions of those who stole them originally.
Now, this is not an attack on Greeks, and since the purpose of this letter is to foster understanding and togetherness I will refrain from taking the Casco Bay Weekly’s approach and won’t refer to the perps as frat boys.
If you, the Greek student, can’t live with the attitudes expressed by students polled in The Free Press then perhaps you should examine why you joined a fraternity in the first place. Frankly the best thing you could have done in this situation was to ignore it and move on, but I guess adult behavior by adult students is too much to expect. Again, I am not attacking the Greeks as a whole only the few sad individuals who are “serious” Greeks at USM.
You see dear readers, our Greek campus members need our support because they have been sold a false bill of goods from their national chapters. I only know this because I grew up in a small town that was home to an old university with a strong Greek tradition (The movie Animal House was written by graduates of this school and set at a fictionalized version of the college). Many of the students in the Greek systems at these schools have family and business connections to the fraternities and are expected to pledge, as the system is used as a way to develop networks for life beyond college. They partied, got in trouble, and did stupid things as well, but the main point was the networking. This isn’t exactly how things work at USM. I’ve lived with guys who were in the fraternities here, and their experiences were quite different if no less rewarding to them.
With this in mind, my Greek friends, please answer these simple questions true or false:
1. My fraternity or sorority is not in a dorm building.
2. The alumni of our fraternity/sorority are a constant presence either through donations or job contacts.
3. When I visit other schools with strong Greek traditions I am welcomed with open arms by my constituent chapter at that school (state schools don’t count).
If you answered true to these, then you are a true Greek. My gut feeling is that most Greeks answered false. This is not a condemnation of your organization, but please stop telling us non-Greeks how your fraternity or sorority is more than just a club for people who need to join a group to feel validated (in the interest of disclosure, I joined a sports team to feel validated). At USM that seems to be the way Greek organizations have evolved over time.
Despite this discrepancy between Greek image and Greek reality on campus, they do have a valid point about the Question of the Week column in question. This conveniently brings me to the second point of my letter.
The Free Press needs to take some responsibility for at the least bad judgement in this case, and general laziness overall. There are many ways the paper could have done a better job of presenting the column in question that started this whole fiasco. Other than omit the possibly offensive response (which I believe would have happened had the student answered “no, I’m not gay” instead of “no, I’m straight”) The Free Press could have actually gone further than the [Woodbury Campus Center] or Luther Bonney Hall. If the feature writer/photographer had done the questioning in Gorham, there might have been at least a few pro-Greek answers. There is a bus that runs fairly regularly out there every weekday, you should check it out (maybe even bring a writer out to report on the sporting events that occur on campus from time to time). My final question to The Free Press is this … how much did the stolen papers cost us, the STUDENTS, since the money comes out of our activity fees? If the outrageous figure I heard the other day is anywhere near the ballpark per issue cost (over $2 per paper), then we need to re-examine why so many get printed up only to sit unread until they are stolen by frat boys (sorry, I needed to get one dig in) or thrown out.
Junior computer science major