I was quite surprised last Friday to learn that Bradley University holds classes on Labor Day. Prior to my arrival at Bradley this year, I planned my trip home for the Labor Day weekend, including the arrival back to Peoria on Monday, 6 September, as opposed to Sunday, 5 September. Much to my dismay, I learned from one of my instructors that we would be meeting again on Monday as class was dismissed last Friday. I considered the possibilities for a few hours and decided that the show would have to go on without this student. It turned out to be quite the entertaining weekend, however, and I’m pleased to say that I did not miss a day of classes for nothing.
Saturday night, I joined a friend from the U of I for dinner. She is a freshman there, and we’ve only just begun to become acquainted with each other. So we talked over dinner and compared notes about university life, and she then took me to her dorm to show me around. I didn’t find the U of I dorms to be extremely different than the dorms here at Bradley, at least not what I saw of them. It was a good learning experience. After visiting her dorms, I took her to a greasy-spoon diner in the area where I planned to introduce her to some other friends of mine. I was delighted to learn that one of the guys to whom I planned to introduce her, a sophomore who studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, already knew her. They went to the same middle school. The three of us, along with others, proceeded to talk over coffee into the early morning hours. We covered many interesting subjects, but one of the most interesting happened to be the topic of Greek life. The student from Kalamazoo, like myself, is not an advocate of the Greek system. The UI frosh, however, is a newly pledged sorority girl. She told me which sorority she joined, but I do not remember now; it’s all Greek to me.
When the topic turned to Greek life, my lady friend immediately took the defensive end of the conversation. This is something that just caught my attention, actually. As I think about it, though, I realize that this seems to be a rather common stance of Greeks when speaking of their fraternities and sororities. One idea that comes to mind is the old postulation that “to proclaim one’s innocence before being accused is a sure sign of guilt.” Justifying one’s own actions before receiving rebuke in any form is a telltale sign of a healthy conscience, in my opinion. Of course, opinions are like…uh, noses. Anyway. So I think that the basic outcome of our discussion with this young lady was our applauding her for doing what she wanted to do. One point that she brought up was the notion that so many non-Greeks pass judgment on Greeks for being arrogant and haughty, when really the non-Greeks who do this are actually the guilty parties. As my RA advised the students on my floor to not say, “No frat is better than any frat.” This seems to be the consensus of a majority of non-Greeks on campus, myself included. I think that the Greek system promotes elitism and division of the student body, but Greek life is here to stay and I’m quite sure that nothing that I can do or say will change that. I wouldn’t want to change it, as a matter of fact. Those who participate in the Greek system seem to enjoy it. A desire to take that away from them would stem from jealousy. Different people have different tastes, and just because Greek life satisfies them and not myself is no reason to want to see an end to it.
So to all the new Greeks among the freshman class, congratulations! I hope you enjoy the Greek life. To all of those who are not participating in the Greek system, congratulations! Do what you enjoy, and don’t blame the Greeks for enjoying something that you don’t. If we concentrate on our similarities rather than our differences, we’ll have a much more productive four years together, in my opinion. Of course, opinions are like…noses.