Imagine going into a job interview after listing your involvement in a greek organization at The University of Alabama on your resume. You’re confident, well-prepared and enthusiastic about how the interview is going when suddenly the interviewer mentions that he or she did some research and found that an organization you were involved with in college was tangled up in a voter fraud scandal that received nationwide attention. How would you recover from that in your potential employer’s eyes?
What I should be asking is how you intend to justify the increasingly unethical actions of your greek organization. It seems as while the reputation of the UA greek system is falling farther down the rabbit hole, more people are gathering at the mouth of the hole to watch. Both Fox News and the Huffington Post covered the voter fraud scandal, which, if people make the connection to other news stories about racial segregation and rigging First Year Council selections in the SGA, only piles more questionable behavior onto an already shady-looking system. If the direction doesn’t change, it’s reasonable to assume that you might find yourself being held accountable by any number of people in your future, be it an employer, a friend or a love interest.
I’m beginning to wonder what impact your organization’s behavior will have on my own resume. When I tell people that the University is my alma mater, will they raise an eyebrow at my ethics as well? Is the value of my degree being mitigated by the sour reputation of an organization I couldn’t have afforded to join if I wanted to?
To be frank, I have very little evidence that tells me you, an old row greek student, care. You’ve insulated yourself in a social circle full of people not different enough to challenge you or make you uncomfortable, and you’ve paid handsomely for that privilege. And now that you’ve got your safe space, you seem to venture into “enemy territory” so infrequently that many of you could count the number of close GDI friends you have on one hand.
When you came to the University as a freshman and decided to go greek, when the allure of a group of friends, a gorgeous house and a full schedule of social events beguiled you into joining one of these organizations, did you think you would be thoughtlessly undermining the educational opportunities of children? Did you think you would be uncomfortably fielding questions from people of color who didn’t realize they couldn’t join your club before they rushed? Is this what you signed up for?
Whatever your answer to these questions, no one on this campus is in a better position than you to determine what the greek system’s future looks like. I do not buy into the popular belief that you are dastardly and unethical, but I do believe that you could use your vantage point to create change in a meaningful, tangible way. If you are not comfortable with the direction the greek system is taking, then use your power, which I can tell you as a matter of fact is much greater than my own in this situation, to change the course.
Marina Roberts is a senior majoring in accounting. Her column runs biweekly on Mondays.