A Non-Athlete’s Perspective: Don’t Give Greek Life More Power

Elizabeth McNamara, Maroon-News Staff

Colgate has come to be synonymous with Greek life. Though the prevalence of fraternities and sororities on campus has historically incited great debate among students and administrators alike, there’s no doubting that Greek letters play an integral role in the University’s social fabric. Colgate welcomes all students to rush and, to that end, raises the issue of an over-prevalent Greek system. I feel those already involved in University-sponsored organizations should eschew 

involvement in sororities and fraternities. 

 I’d like to preface with a disclaimer: my attitudes toward the Greek system and varsity athletics, individually, border on neutral. Both institutions can operate as healthy outlets for the student body, places in which to foster friendship and community. 

That’s not to say, however, that Greek life doesn’t at times create a climate of exclusion and insularity. Those who are not invited to join a sorority or fraternity after rush may feel shut out from social involvement; living in Hamilton’s rural ‘no man’s land,’ there’s little livelihood or nightlife beyond the frat house. 

The prevalence of the Greek system is already an issue on campus, and might be exacerbated by the prospect of athlete involvement. Colgate prides itself on a prestigious program of Division One athletics. Men’s and women’s varsity sports contribute significantly to the school’s identity; the Colgate Raider is just as much an athletic mascot as it is a collegiate symbol. 

The dedication my athlete friends show to their respective sports is incredibly admirable; for all their hard work, they deserve to have the same fun and experiences as any other student.

However, it is difficult to reconcile the fact that those disciplined athletes subscribe to the same social system as Colgate’s non-athletic regular people. The intimate connection between teammates, from what I’ve gathered, is unparalleled. Why, then, do certain athletes feel the need to immerse themselves in a scene far outside (and often at odds with) the Athletics Department? Might there be a greater flaw in Colgate’s ideology—that to be in a sorority or frat is the most important, the pinnacle of college experience?

Any disunion in a student body of under 3,000 is cause for concern. While Greek life may not be the villain of Colgate, there’s no doubt that social organizations with limited space are bound to become cliquey. 

Whether athletes or non-athletes, we all attend the same school, and should be able to frequent the same parties and social gatherings. Yet, when many of us share a unanimous ‘goal’—that is, to join a sorority or fraternity—the social dynamics of Colgate become imbalanced. Greek houses dominate the University, only gaining more authority and preeminence with athlete members. 

So long as athletes can rush, the vast majority of the student body fuels an institution that is not wholly inclusive. The power of Greek life should be kept to a minimum; it certainly is not the end-all-be-all, especially for a student body as complex as Colgate’s.