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Questioning Greek Life

On Tuesday, the Greek vs. Non-Greek Debate pitted Fraternity & Sorority Life (FSL) against the Rollins Debate Team. Dr. Eric Smaw, assistant professor of philosophy, introduced himself and welcomed everyone to the event, then President Duncan came up to the podium and began the night with an opening address about the merit of the debate.

The FSL team consisted of speakers Laura Berk ‘12, Kyle Hackel ‘12, Ian Wallace ‘12 and Mary Karangelen ‘14, with Erin Brioso ’14, who did not speak but assisted the team with its fi rst argument. The debate team consisted of speakers Luke Kupscznk ‘08, Ariana Eily ’12, Ryan Lambert ’13 and Mitch Verboncoeur ’14. Many people came to support the lively exchange in opinion, including fraternity and sorority members, non- Greek students, faculty, staff and students from local high schools, ITT Tech and Valencia.

Duncan discussed how debate not only gives Rollins students a chance to perform in front of their peers, but also brings the Rollins community together under intellectual engagement. Smaw then returned, giving a brief history of the Rollins Debate Team while explaining the rules to and obligations of the audience. Attendees were told to voice their opinions; if they agreed with an argument, they were to clap and say “Here, Here,” while if they disagreed, they were told to yell “Shame!” The vocal audience certainly had no inhibitions when it came to this task.

The resolution of the debate went as follows: This house believes that Greek organizations should be banned from all college campuses.

FSL argued the negative, discussing the positives of Greek life in both principle and actuality. FSL stated that its organizations foster three spheres of development: the mental, the moral and the social. It also promotes leadership and social skills, character, and many opportunities for its members, leading to a high number of businesspeople, justices, and even presidents who have attributed much of their success to their membership in a fraternity or sorority. While the FSL team did admit the system is not perfect (with regard to alcohol problems, to name one argument against FSL), they said these issues are addressed within individual chapters.

The debate team argued the basis of a liberal arts education, going all the way back to the fifth century, as a belief that it was the “foundation that held up the roof of formal education.” Team members stated that if Greek Life does not contribute to these pillars then it must go. The debate team explained that any social groups would lead to social skills and argued that much of the socialization that occurs within these Greek organizations include partying and drinking. Finally, the team examined the harms of Greek organizations, and while it may not necessarily be the case at Rollins, many fraternities and sororities across the nation promote racism, sexism and classism through exclusionary tactics and hazing.

Before the winning team was announced, the debate team gave an award to Interim Provost Laurie Joyner in recognition of her continued support and promotion of campus events such as the debate, and to FSL for the team’s great dedication and preparation for this debate. After the votes were tabulated, the judges voted two to one, with one judge voting for both teams, to award the Rollins debate team the Rollins Cup.

Regardless of the official decision, it was clear that FSL won the audience’s vote. All in all, it was an amazing debate which fully achieved, if not surpassed, the expectations of all those who attended.

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