Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Letter to the Editor

I said I was going to do it... and I did.  I've never actually written a letter to the editor in response to anything (and those who know me, know that lots of articles actually piss me off).  But this is something that I know.  And something that I love.  

Here is what I wrote in response to the article: Should Colleges Get Rid of Fraternities?

To Ms. Robbins:

I could not be more offended by your piece in the article “Should Colleges Get Rid of Fraternities?”.  I am a sorority woman.  I am a university graduate and an alumna of an NPC sorority.  I was an active member of my sorority – serving on my executive board and also serving as the President of the Panhellenic Council at my university.  As an alumna – I have volunteered my time as Chapter Advisor and Panhellenic Advisor to my local chapter.  I am a well-educated, successful woman who is still actively involved in my sorority. 

I do not deny that poor choices have been made by fraternity and sorority members over the years – and most especially recently. These fraternities and sororities have deserved every punishment that is coming to them. But lumping all fraternities and sororities into the same category is simply not fair.  According to the National Panhellenic Conference website - each year, NPC-affiliated collegians and alumnae donate more than $5 million to worthy causes, provide $2.8 million in scholarships to women, and volunteer 500,000 hours in their communities.  Does that sound like the works of terrible organizations that no one should be a part of?  And that’s just sororities – fraternities have amazing stats too, just like the ones listed alongside your article.    

You ask How many students have to die before universities step in and protect the young adults whom parents entrust with their care?”  The answer should be zero.  No students should die at college.  When parents drop their children off at the university steps, they should be able to trust that their children will come home safely.  But that is not the world that we live in.  It’s estimated that 1,825 students between the ages of 18-24 die yearly from binge drinking.  That number is too high and it’s tragic. 

But I have watched hazing take place across all college organizations.  If one of the drunk freshman that I watched jog through a crowded shopping center in a Speedo in 30 degree weather last Christmas as ‘swim team initiation’ had an unfortunate accident and died – would that have been enough to make people take a look at hazing across the board?  It’s time that people realize it’s not just Greeks who make mistakes and poor decisions.  Just two weeks ago, a man was sentenced to four years in jail for the 2011 hazing death of a FAMU drum major.   

With regards to the study that fraternity men are twice as likely to rape – are you also using that logic to suggest that we ban sports teams from college campuses?  UVA, Vanderbilt, FSU, University of Montana, William and Mary – these colleges are just a tiny sampling of schools that have had athletes’ accused of and/or found guilty of rape.  Take a look at the professional athletes who have been accused and/or found guilty of rape post-college – Ben Roethlisberger and Darren Sharper just to name a couple.

Just yesterday, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton praised the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity for fighting sexual assault.  She must not have seen the report that those men were twice as likely to rape someone.  

On another note, shame on you for not giving your fellow women any credit. 

“As long as fraternities exist, sororities will revolve around them, focusing their considerable womanpower on demeaning activities like wooing Homecoming or Greek Week escorts rather than women’s activism and empowerment.” 

You are clearly a fan of womanpower, but you think so little of all sorority women. We empower girls through our various philanthropies – many which focus on working with young girls, fighting women’s health issues, and even creating foundations of our own for leadership development and academic excellence in women.  Our friendships alone are testament to womanpower.  I have been out of college for 10 years and my sorority sisters are still my best friends.  When my fiancĂ© was killed almost four years ago – my sisters traveled from all over the state and country to be with me at his funeral.  Even girls who I wouldn’t consider part of my ‘inner circle’ dropped everything in their lives to sit there and hold my hand during the worst time of my life – because we were bonded by the sisterhood and rituals that you make light of.  You have no way of understanding what that is like because you never took the time to take a sorority seriously – you went in looking for anything bad and you made (and continue to make) a mockery of what we love.    

I have great friends who are fraternity men.  They are smart, driven, successful, wonderful men. Some of these men would not be the men that they are today without fraternity life – it taught them invaluable leadership skills and expected excellence of them.  It taught them how to grow from boys into great men who I am proud to call my friends.  To call for a universal shut down of fraternities shows your ignorance into what a fraternity really is. 

I have read your book.  I read it when it first came out as I needed to know what the anti-Greek argument was going to be as I headed into recruitment in one of the most important Greek life leadership roles at my university.  When I read this Wall Street Journal article, I also wiped the dust off your book on my shelf.  For some reason, I have held onto it through all these years.  Your book and this article do nothing but perpetuate the stereotypes that I, and all the Greek leaders that I have ever known, spent all of their college years (and many years after) fighting against. 

Greeks are not the people that you make them out to be.  And as sorority women, I am proud to say that we will continue to harness our 3.5 million members towards vital causes.  And we will do it alongside fraternities who support vital causes of their own.  I am, and always will be, proud to be Greek. 

Danielle Molle