A letter to the editor and the Collegian’s readers regarding the column “Fraternity and Sorority Life does not mesh well with CSU — and the shouldn’t have to“
By Alec Wilkas and Kait Casaus on behalf of the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and other Fraternity and Sorority community leaders
On February 17th, we read a Collegian article describing how fraternity and sorority life didn’t mesh well with the university. This article shook us to the core. It was not due to some sudden epiphany that all of the beliefs we hold about fraternity and sorority life were wrong, but that someone who has been a part of our community for so long could be so misguided about the truth of our situation. The objective of this letter/article is not to berate or demean the individual who wrote it, rather we hope to provide a student perspective on the current state of affairs of the fraternity and sorority community, and an honest look at the recent developments the author of the article discussed.
The nonchalant disregard with which the author addresses the severity of hazing greatly concerns us. We would like the student community to understand that removing an organization from campus is not a decision made lightly. It is a process that takes careful consideration and is not an action implemented unless it is considered to be the right choice by student conduct experts, based on the code of conduct we have all agreed to as CSU students. Removal or suspension from campus is considered a proactive tactic to prevent the safety of students. This assumption that the process of removing a chapter from this campus should be a knee jerk reaction to the loss of an innocent life is misguided and frightening for those of us who know that hazing does occur in various organizations across campus and can cause lots of harm in many different ways. The University takes removal of organizations very seriously, and it truly pains us when it does occur, but we support the decision to ensure the safety of our members and the Colorado State community as a whole. The University is not in charge of saving people from themselves, but it is in charge of making sure that the mistakes incurred along the way will not be repeated, and we support the University in holding us to the high standards set for all student organizations.
Fraternities and sororities have been given the opportunity and the privilege to operate on Colorado State University’s campus. Therefore, if we are using this space, we must play by the rules that govern the institution; it is only fair. However, here is the beauty of college. The days of an academic and social atmosphere of being required to do what we were told when we were told to do it are over. If we do not like it, then we as students, organizations, and general citizens of the present and future have the responsibility to make our voices heard and begin these conversations to guarantee a prosperous future. We no longer operate in a space where what we do and how we act is based upon what the principal or our teachers say, and in which they are the ultimate authority. In college, we have the advantage of free choice the ability and the platform to make lasting and meaningful change. If you do not understand how your university operates on specific topics ask questions. Find ways to compromise so both sides find a mutually equitable agreement; but simply throwing your hands up and advocating for some isolationist policy against the world will not incite change. While the article is correct that historically fraternities and sororities have been at odds with their universities, they no longer have to be. In the present day where collaboration and unity are a necessity for progress and change, it is imperative that all entities work with one another to accomplish their respective visions while putting past troubles and grudges aside. Therefore, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life, and the leaders of the fraternity and sorority community at CSU have committed ourselves to better our community through this relationship.
Words are powerful. The term “fraternity and sorority life” rather than “Greek life” honors those organizations that do not identify with Greek letters of which we have several in our community. It provides a term that is more inclusive of these organizations, each of whom is important in providing a different perspective and facet to our community as a whole. Additionally, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life does not require that all organizations use the term “new member” instead of “pledge.” In fact, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life reflects the terminology and languages used by each individual chapter, including pledge, neophyte, and associate member. The leadership team and Office of Fraternity and Sorority life uses “new member” as an umbrella term, as it is the most representative of the population, those who have not yet been initiated. The impact that words make in an instant can change the perception of an entire organization, and we as members of fraternities and sororities choose to identify with a title that reflects our values most brotherhood and sisterhood. It is not that some of us have lost the identity of a “Greek” organization, but we have chosen above all else to promote our steadfast commitment to being brothers and sisters in our organizations.
Being members of fraternities and a sororities does not mean in the slightest that we have confined ourselves to a cage that limits us from enjoying all of the fantastic and fun activities the social side of Colorado State University has to offer. Every chapter meeting we have in our organizations, we take an oath; an oath that we as individuals promise every second of every day that we will live our values, that we act as agents of change in our respective communities, that when we lay our head down to rest we left the world a better place today than it was yesterday; and with that promise comes a heightened sense of responsibility and accountability we hold ourselves to. Yes, given the unfortunate events of past and present that have plagued our proud community it brings a larger magnifying glass that we must operate under. We are not perfect, and will never be, but by making this oath, we strive to be the best human beings that we can be. This does not mean that we cannot still let loose, have a little fun, and be college students. What it means is that we must be smarter when we are having fun, because when we attend a shindig or go to a bar for a friend’s birthday, unlike unaffiliated students that attend this university who may only need to worry about how they appear to others, our actions and words reflect not only upon our personal image, but on our organizations and the fraternity and sorority community as a whole. That is a responsibility that we gladly carry every second of every day, and we are damn proud to be brothers, sisters, and members of our organizations, and how far our community has come.
Respectfully, A few concerned brothers and sisters
If you would like more information regarding Fraternity and Sorority life, please feel free to look on our website at fsl.colostate.edu, swing by our office in the LSC, or attend one of our open Panhellenic Council meetings or Interfraternity Council meetings Mondays from 4:00-5:00 p.m. and 5:00-6:00 p.m., respectively.