‘Perspective’ accusation of IGC racism offensive

While Perspective writer Sarah Burdick criticizes the sororities and fraternities taking over the BSC cubes at lunch, Alpha Chi Rho member Mike Wampler says sitting in the same cubes is a long-standing Greek tradition. (Diana Bubser / Opinions Editor)
While Perspective writer Sarah Burdick criticizes the sororities and fraternities taking over the BSC cubes at lunch, Alpha Chi Rho member Mike Wampler says sitting in the same cubes is a long-standing Greek tradition. (Diana Bubser / Opinions Editor)

by Mike Wampler

As a member of the Greek community at the College, I am shocked and appalled that the article “Separate But Equal?” by Sarah Burdick even saw print in the November 2009 edition of The Perspective.

It is poorly researched, offensive to Greek social organizations and just downright poorly written. My fellow Greeks and I are angry, with good reason.

Let’s go point-by-point. The “ever-frivolous” season of Homecoming is not specific to Greeks. I’m not even going to touch on Burdick’s choice of words — if she thinks Homecoming is frivolous, fine, but there are many students and alumni who would disagree with her.

There were nine banners hanging in the Brower Student Center (BSC) for Homecoming. One belonged to Stars and Stripes, a team comprised of the Ambassadors and Synergy Dance Co., who are of course, not a Greek team.

As for the other eight banners, had Burdick actually bothered to read them, you would have found several multi-cultural organizations’ names on them, as they often compete on the same teams as social Greek letter organizations.

Let’s also not forget the fact that Homecoming is an abrupt reminder to Greeks that Homecoming is not about us. We’re often excluded from the Homecoming committee, and Greek alumni are rarely, if ever, allowed to act as judges for Homecoming events, even though other student alumni often return. If anything, from our perspective, Homecoming is not a Greek event, and very often the non-Greeks involved in its planning go out of their way to make that point.

As for the other banners in the BSC, the only ones hanging year round are over the book store, and all student organizations are represented. During recruitment, all organizations have the option of hanging banners advertising their recruitment dates, but this process is neither mandated nor supported by the Inter-Greek Council (IGC), as Burdick’s article seems to suggest.

The main problem with Burdick’s article is that she seems to have done no research into the set-up of the Greek system at this school. She claims that it is somehow unfair, and implies it is racist, that multicultural fraternities are not listed on the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC)’s recruitment page. Of course they’re not — multicultural fraternities are not governed by the IFC.

IGC is comprised of three smaller governing bodies. IFC oversees social fraternities, the eight you mention. Panhellenic oversees social sororities, and the Multicultural Greek Council oversees the multiculturals, because we are national organizations that fall under different insurance policies, different recruitment rules and so forth, and we therefore are governed locally by different organizations. We all fall under the IGC umbrella, but IGC is not responsible for the division of government — it is a national standard.

Burdick then criticizes our seating arrangements at lunch. It is Greek tradition to sit in the cubes, and we have sat in these cubes for a very long time. There is plenty of seating in the BSC, but yes, the social organizations have laid claim to the cubes.

For the most part, we’ve been here longer, and the traditions have just stuck. However, Alpha Epsilon Pi just joined our campus community, and they simply came and took a spot. Territorial conquests? Maybe, but what’s wrong with that? It’s simply where we eat lunch every day, no different than a group of freshmen sitting at the same table every afternoon for lunch. Multicultural organizations tend to be smaller and come and go more frequently than larger social organizations — as a result, we hold on to our traditional, familiar seating arrangements longer. Again, I fail to see the problem, and I resent Burdick’s implication that it is somehow racist of the Greek community.

The last paragraph of Burdick’s article is the one that has made us most angry. Seriously? She’s going to bring Plessy v. Ferguson into it? The implication that IGC is racist is a broad, inaccurate libel against the Greek community.

There are no quotes in Burdick’s article from Greeks in social organizations, and only one quote from one member of a multicultural organization — from that huge absence of any fact or information, she came to the conclusion that IGC operates on a “separate but equal” doctrine? The implication is offensive.

I suggest Burdick takes the time to familiarize herself with the way we do things before printing what is essentially garbage, and while I can’t speak for all Greek life, I know I demand a formal retraction of this inaccurate, insulting, unnecessarily provocative article.