Stop stereotyping the greek system’s view of race

LettersTradition is a beautiful word that evokes fond memories of past customs and reminds me of established rituals that I partake in every day. Traditions stir pride within those striving to continue them. They honor beliefs and unite like-minded individuals.

Some of my dear traditions are Christmas with my family, church on Sundays and attending my high school’s graduation every year. Oh yeah, this tradition of winning national championships isn’t that bad either.

While reading The Crimson White, I came across a column titled “The University has failed to socially educate students,” by John Speer. In it, he states, “I will not take the traditional route and rail against the greek system for all its obvious inequities and biases, nor will I indict its members who are accustomed to conducting their exclusive business as usual. My words would fall on deaf ears.”

I was insulted. In one small statement, Mr. Speer has insulted many of my friends and traditions. To broadly stereotype the greek organizations as iniquitous and biased is completely uncalled for.

I, as a member of the greek system, am educated enough to respect each individual based upon their moral fiber, rather than their race, organizational ties or religious beliefs. That is to say, I do not stereotype people, or categorize them by society’s standards. I appreciate each person for who they are.

As I delved further into Mr. Speer’s article, I soon realized his hidden agenda: to frame traditionally Caucasian fraternities and sororities as being racist towards blacks and Hispanics.

These few lines enlightened me on Speer’s understanding of greek organizations, which is none. Rather, he built his opinions upon stereotypical biases.

For example, he chose to ignore the fact our rush system is open. Anyone that wishes to enter our organization will be invited to a rush event.

He also conveniently chose to ignore the fact that all UA Panhellenic greek organizations are open to any race. My particular organization has non-Caucasian members. I almost feel foolish for declaring this as if it is an anomaly, because it wrongly indicates that I judge according to race.

When Speer tries to generalize my organization by claiming that we all “spend [our] social life segregated along racial, economic and religious lines,” supports this claim by stating that you are a black man who enjoys country music, and then asserts that there are poor whites that receive welfare, I want to ask, “Who do you think you are?”

Speer begs us to believe that he is not a stereotype, while he severely stereotypes others. The irony here is priceless. My Greek organization is composed of more than six different religions, three different ethnicities, and has members in many different tax brackets. (Yes, some of these members even receive welfare.) Not only are Mr. Speer’s supporting arguments wrong, his facts are incorrect.

Nevertheless, I give him credit for his sly way of aiming his insults at “the University,” by declaring that “they have failed to socially educate students.” This was very clever; however, it did not go unnoticed.

It is not the University that has failed its students; it is parents that have failed their children. One does not learn racist behavior within my organization, nor condone it. These demeaning values are learned at a young age and continued by naive individuals who refuse to partake in a peaceful society.

In fact, the founding values of my organization are friendship, excellence, knowledge, morality and service. These values are not upheld by inserting the “N” word into daily conversation, as Speer accuses us of doing.

So, Mr. Speer, rather than insult organizations that you know little about, I encourage you to contact me and eat dinner at our house. You can meet the people that I call friends and see for yourself if the traditions that we hold dear are “decaying our minds.”

To readers who are of the same mind as Mr. Speer, I encourage you to walk a day in our shoes. See if our intentions are as negative as you believe. After three years in a greek organization, I can assure you that we are not the scum bags portrayed in stereotypes.

Austin Barranco is a junior majoring in studio art and finance.

  • Alex Austin

    This is a classic case of seeing what you want to see. It is basically true that children learn their racist/bigoted/oppressive opinions from their parents, but you cannot say that the university does not foster and protect those same opinions. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad that your fraternity is inclusive and a just community, but that is not the majority. The majority of the greek system is just as Mr. Speer says it is. Of course the rush system is open to everyone, it would be a public outrage if it wasn’t. But while the rush is open to everyone it is still the decision of the greek houses to accept members, which they do along racial/political lines. It is a travesty that it is news when a sorority accepts an African-American member. And, as a junior, you’ve been around long enough to see the university, in various forms back the political ideology of the greeks. Again, I’m glad that the fraternity you belong to bucks these trends, but that is not the status quo, and the status quo has got to go.