The Beginning of the End

and April 4, 2013 Op-Eds, Opinion

Student and Faculty voice their opinions on the recent Greek crisis and the shaky future of these important organizations at Rollins.

 

Student Voice
By Mary Catherine Pflug

Last week, I went to Lip Sync, happy to finally become a part of a Rollins tradition. I had heard good things from my upperclassmen friends, and for once, I was generally motivated to attend a Rollins function rather than guilty for not being involved enough, my typical reason for attending events on campus. I arrive, grab a seat with some friends and wait for the entertainment to begin. Six short routines later, I left. Bored.

Back at my room, I googled Rollins Lip Sync and the results were far different from my live experience. Past routines were well coordinated, and if not, they were undoubtedly hilarious. The crowd was rowdy, the music was exciting, the participants wanted to be there and it seemed as if it couldn’t get any better than this. And just maybe it won’t.

The recent changes with Greek life on campus just might mark the beginning of a transformation in the way students think about life on campus. The mass exodus of groups being pushed off campus, the lackluster Lip Sync, a President decidedly anti-Greek, and the increase in busts by Winter Park Police of off-campus frat parties are all evidence of a quickly changing atmosphere that students need recognize and understand.

Like it or not, the traditions here at Rollins in some way, shape, or form rely on Greek organizations for their success. Lip Sync, fueled by large student groups that have the infrastructure to make something like that a success; Fox Day, with its past legends of Rollins-sponsored beach shuttles that morphed into TKE party buses and beach extravaganzas; Pancake Flip, largely attended by on-campus students and Greek students.

By pushing these groups off campus, Rollins is losing key participants that make these traditions succeed. Change is undoubtedly a constant, however I see no budding traditions that are poised to step into the shoes of the faltering ones.

What does the future of Rollins’ social life look like? Shall we continue down our current path: a slow removal of every Greek organization until none remain? Would it turn into a web of off-campus Greek organizations that inhabit surrounding neighborhoods, whose members only enter campus for classes and the occasional campus center meal, taking with them the few traditions Rollins can claim as their own? Or could it be marked by a rise in special-focus groups transforming frat houses into academically oriented eating-house-esque spaces, the administration’s sad attempt at a pseudo-Princeton?

Looking toward the future, those with power need to consider what makes Rollins unique and embrace it. This school is unlike any other out there. People come here for a reason, and part of it is the Greek life and social atmosphere. The Bro Kings I know that go to state schools of tens of thousands of students have nothing on some of the characters here. Greek organizations breed leaders. Those who are not Greek benefit too, because the events like parties and charity events are fun and extra-inclusive.

Those who come to this school know what they are getting into. Google Rollins and we all know what pops up in Urban Dictionary and where Rollins falls on Playboy’s list of top party schools. In reality, these stereotypes aren’t entirely true. But there are people that are attracted to the idea of it and they come here for that reason. Rollins represents an atmosphere and lifestyle that you can’t find at any other institution of higher learning. Clearly this lifestyle can and does include learning, as evidenced by the success of graduates.

Fraternities and Sororities, though by no means perfect for everyone, play a huge role in the traditions here at Rollins. And as an unaffiliated Rollins student, I unbelievably find myself advocating for these organizations. Even though I don’t quite understand them, nor see myself participating in them, I recognize their importance and value for this school. I only hope that administration can as well, and soon, before the traditions I have barely begun to call my own fade away.

 

Faculty Voice
By Dr. Jana Mathews

Within the past decade, two Rollins fraternities—Alpha Tau Omega and Phi Delta Theta— have been removed from campus housing due to college and national violations. This already devastating blow to Greek life was compounded last week by the news that two more Greek organizations will be losing their houses at the end of this school year. While some would say that the Greek system has reached a crossroads at Rollins, I would argue for the stronger claim that it is in full-blown crisis. I enter into the conversation about the status of Greek life at Rollins not as a former collegiate sorority member (I attended an undergraduate institution that did not have a Greek system) but as a professor who strongly believes that a thriving Greek system is critical to the continued vitality of the entire College.

For the past three years, I have had the privilege—for that is really what it is—of serving as the official faculty advisor to one sorority on campus, and as an unofficial advisor to another. In these capacities, I have chaperoned numerous formals, mixers, and service projects, sat in on dozens of business meetings, and shadowed two groups of first-year students as they went through every stage of the sorority recruitment process. While I am certainly not privy to every aspect of Greek life at Rollins, I have attended enough sorority events to state unequivocally that the good that Greek organizations do on campus far outweighs the bad.

The College requires all student organizations to have faculty advisors, yet our role in relation to these groups is not clearly defined. One of the reasons why I have invested so much time working with the sororities on campus is so that I could serve as an advocate for them in exactly this kind of situation. However, I recently was informed that faculty advisors do not have a voice in the judicial hearings that govern the Greek organizations that they advise (I would like for this to change).

If I could speak to the judicial board deliberating the fate of Kappa Kappa Gamma, I would ask that its members look at this sorority—and, by extension, all Greek organizations— through a lens that is much larger than a list of the flaws of individual members. For every thing that members of campus sororities and fraternities do wrong (some infractions that land these groups in hot water are serious, but many are trivial and silly), there are hundreds of things that they do right. In their haste to document all the times when sorority members screw up, fall short, or otherwise act their age, the folks at the organizations’ national headquarters and at Rollins sometimes miss the awe-inspiring acts of service and gestures of kindness that permeate Greek culture on campus.

For example, I have seen women drop everything and fly across the country the day after Christmas to comfort a “sister” who had just lost her mother; I have watched a freshman who felt invisible find a forever ally and cheerleader in the form of a “big;” I have had RCC students change their minds about transferring to a different college after going through the recruitment process; and I have watched a group of seniors miss their last sorority formal to watch a sister’s sporting event.

In a million smaller ways, I have seen the women of Rollins’ Greek community encourage, uplift, and inspire their classmates—both within the Greek system and outside of it—to live into their potential as campus and community leaders. Whenever groups convene to strategize ways to modify and improve campus culture, sororities and fraternities make an easy target because they are so visible, and because popular culture has conditioned us via Animal House, Legally Blonde and Old School to think of their members as vapid and two-dimensional. While there is always room for improvement, it is worth remembering that Rollins is a great place to gain a higher education—not in spite of its Greek system, but because of it.

Error! Correction: In Mary Catherine’s article, she stated that Greek Week was all-inclusive. This has been corrected and removed from the article.

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3 Comments

  1. Erin Brioso April 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    1. These organizations are not being kicked off campus, they just do not have Organizational housing for the upcoming year.
    2.The use of “Greek Life” language excludes non-Greek organizations and it is completely outdated.
    3. Our President is not anti-FSL at all.
    4. The use of the word “frat” is also outdated, and only reinforces the negative connotations held to such organizations.

  2. 06 Delt April 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    As an alumni and a former member of Greek life at Rollins I feel bad for the kids who are missing out in this tradition.

    Every so often there are bad groups of kids in each fraternity or sorority. It seems like Rollins is just waiting for the bad group to mess up and make swift action before the organization can regroup.

    The term “frat” is certainly not outdated. Six years after graduation I still hear about “frat” life and how even some of my superiors benefitted from living in a frat.

  3. Anne Zimmermann April 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Poor Elle Woods. She is misunderstood: it is too easy to make her an example of the pervasive negative stereotype of sorority women. In embracing the equally stereotypical low expectations of her, she won the attention of the Harvard Law admissions department. She demonstrated her intelligence and earned her degree, never apologizing for her sorority affiliation or her fondness for pink. In truth, Elle represents the goal of most college sororities: to successfully balance academic endeavors while fostering self-respect–and demonstrating loyalty. She is the example, not the exception.

    As a former alumnae advisor for a sorority at a different institution, I am well aware of the delicate balance that exists between a national sorority and an institution housing a chapter. When the irresponsible actions of a few upset this balance, the privilege of housing may be lost for all. Naturally, this may seem unfair to those other members; naturally it may overshadow the good works of the chapter. Each group in question here boasts strong scholars and leaders, and they have my sympathies during this difficult time. Still, we must not forget the other groups on this campus that work very hard to maintain or earn the privilege of housing. This requires a tremendous amount of work on many levels. The efforts committed to this are, I submit, not only “critical to the vitality of the College,” but excellent lessons that members can later apply in their post-collegiate lives. Perhaps this is the real teachable moment.

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