Editor’s Column: A Time For Understanding

Will Hazzard

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for us at The Maroon-News. There have been a lot of conflicting opinions over some polemic issues, and we are the ones at the receiving end. It’s been very rewarding, but at the same time kind of difficult to be at the center of a rising debate on campus. It makes it even harder since I am a member of Greek Life, as well as an editor for the paper that publishes quite a few anti-Greek opinions. Personally, I’ve never really been one for confrontation and I really have nothing bad to say about the writers of any of these articles.

In fact, I applaud them for having the guts to speak up, since it appears to be an issue the writers feel passionately about. But, with that said, I think everyone needs to take a step back for a moment. Because there has been an almost constant dialogue about the merits and problems of Greek Life on campus, I don’t think anyone has even taken the time to listen to the arguments of the other side. I think if any sort of solution is to come about, we just need to listen for a moment.

I’ll admit, Greek Life certainly has its issues. While I believe it’s a bit of a stretch to call Greek organizations a bastion for racism and bigotry, I can understand where the concerns come from. Maybe it’s because we’re all just a little too comfortable around each other, or that our Colgate world is a little sheltered from the problems of the outside world, but sometimes we say things that some people may find inappropriate. However, that doesn’t mean we openly discriminate against anyone based on race or sexual orientation. There is a lot of secrecy enshrouded in the rush process, but it’s not like we sit around and say, “Oh, this kid is black. We shouldn’t give him a bid.”

In my opinion, that’s a ridiculous statement. Each house has their own criteria and se­lection process for choosing new members, and if a person doesn’t meet those criteria, then they don’t get a bid. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what you look like, or which sex you’re attracted to. If you’re selected, the brotherhood sees you as fit to join the ranks. And once you’re there, you’re truly an equal. I don’t think any differently of the minority mem­bers of our organization. In my eyes, and in the eyes of my friends, they are my brothers and nothing else. I hope they see me the same way. That is a sort of equality and unity that is necessary for us to look beyond color and creed. Any accusations of pure discrimination go against those ideals that many others and I hold dear.

The responses from the Greek community though, have been less than ideal. There are two schools of thought when it comes to responding to attacks: provide examples on how Greek Life is actually a good thing or completely disregard the opinions of those who dis­agree. Neither really accomplishes anything. While it would seem to make sense to defend Greek Life with statistics and examples of the benefits, it doesn’t really answer the question at hand. By showing we’re involved with philanthropy and that we help build better men and women, we assume there is nothing wrong with us.

We never admit to our flaws and just assume that those who are unaffiliated just don’t get it. The same goes for not saying anything as well. I’ve heard plenty of people say that by acknowledging the articles and responding to them, the Greek community takes the bait. We only give them the response they want. But what has apathy ever really accomplished? By not saying anything, we only prove that we believe ourselves to be superior and that we are above these very serious complaints. By remaining silent, we let the problem grow and develop to the point where opinions are no longer constructive, only hurtful. We may already be at the point.

I’m not saying I have the solution. I don’t think any single person does. But right now, I see a campus that is becoming divided in the worst kind of way. If we ever want this problem to be solved, even just a little bit, we need to take the time to look at ourselves. Greeks and non-Greeks need to ask themselves what they want.

They need to acknowledge what the other party desires. I believe by doing this, we can find a solution and take the knife off each other’s throats. I know I’ll be happier when I can see this campus come together again. I think everyone agrees with me on that.

Contact Will Hazzard at [email protected]