FSILG Sisterhood and Brotherhood Not HypocriticalColumn by Shang-Lin Chuang
Many people were shocked when they picked up The Tech and read the column by Stacey E. Blau ["Hypocritical Fraternities Embarrass MIT," Feb. 25]. Not only were the opinions completely wrong, but the way these opinions were presented made them even less convincing.
As a member of a sorority and a resident of a dormitory, I would like to think of myself as a good judge of both the Greek and dormitory systems - a better judge, in any event, than someone who has never been to a fraternity event. Sororities were not attacked by Blau in her column, in fact, I actually know a lot of people who think fraternities and sororities are so different that they disapprove of the former but approve of the latter. But, as a sorority member, I have had the opportunity to come in contact with many fraternity members in academic, social, and community service settings. And as the social chair for my dormitory floor, I have had the opportunity to be involved in, plan for, and attend dormitory events. I like to think that I have had the unique opportunity to experience the best of both worlds.
But I offer another unique viewpoint. As a fellow Tech staffer, Ihave been a friend and colleague of Blau for almost three years. Thus, I was especially amazed by how unjournalistic Blau's column was. Anyone, let alone someone who has been involved with The Tech for so long, should know that a story, even a column, cannot be written based solely on hearsay and few facts. Anyone is free to express their opinion, but an unfounded opinion will only undermine the author's claims. If Blau had been to fraternity parties and had refrained from making sweeping generalizations that only open her up for attacks, then she might have written a better column. Not necessarily a column with a view I would agree with, but a good, persuasive column.
Since fraternity, sorority, and independent living group members represent a minority at The Tech, I have had to endure and deal with a great deal of anti-fraternity sentiment. However, there is a big difference between being anti-fraternity and hating fraternities. I have written a couple of "anti-fraternity" news articles that reported problems fraternities were experiencing, but Icertainly don't hate them. When the majority of the people have the perception that The Tech is anti-fraternity, Blau, especially as a former editor in chief and current opinion editor, should be especially careful not to further that opinion. By writing a column with so little factual basis, Blau seriously damages the reputation of The Tech, the main student newspaper on campus.
Let me assure everyone that The Tech as an organization is not anti-fraternity and that the column represents only the views of the author. Many editors of The Tech in recent years have in fact been members of FSILGs. Few editors were consulted before the column ran, and many disagree strongly with it.
With regard to the column itself, one thing that really bothers me is Blau's claim that she has never heard of anyone going to a fraternity party without the intention of drinking and that most of the socializing that goes on in fraternity parties involve sex. Blau knows me, and Blau knows that I go to fraternity parties. But I never go to these parties with the intention of drinking, certainly never ended up having sex, and I cannot imagine that Blau expects that I did. Blau also knows several of my friends. Many of them go to fraternity parties. A few of them go to drink, but most of them do not, and none of them end up having sex.
It also bothers me to see that Blau thinks that she is above the rest, that she can easily see through the lies and deception of FSILGs when nobody else can, that the average MIT student cannot distinguish between truth and lie, and that almost one-half of the undergraduate population cannot make a clear and informed decision on its own.
I have found others, mostly men, who share Blau's misplaced convictions about fraternity life. However, after talking further with them, I usually discover that they rushed fraternities but did not receive a bid. Now, I am not saying that their views on fraternities are completely wrong just because they were flushed. But I am saying that it casts suspicion and doubt on their arguments. If they thought fraternities were so bad, then why did they rush and want to join them? Did they realize only after rush the true evils of fraternities and are now relieved that they didn't join? Or, perhaps their views are tainted by their bitter personal feelings.
Like these people, Blau makes the absurd claim that fraternities are only about alcohol, sex, and sorority chicks, or so she heard. I wonder if Blau knows that FSILGs do a great deal of community service, have extensive systems of networking and alumni relationships, and offer an academic support structure to their members in terms of bibles and tutoring. FSILGs have the highest attendance at Institute-wide community events like City Days and they also participate in smaller community events that dormitories don't participate in. Few would deny that the Interfraternity Council is one of the most powerful student organizations on camus, but how many people ever took a minute to figure out why? Maybe the reason is it's unified and caring membership.
Many people have asked me what binds me to my sorority - why I feel this instant "bond" to my sisters two days after I join. My reply has always been the same: It is very difficult to explain and very difficult to understand if you are not involved. In fact, I don't know if I really can say why. But it is the feeling of security, friendship, and support that makes me value my sorority. It is supporting and helping my sisters, knowing that they would do the same for me. I will be the first one to admit that I don't get along with everyone in my sorority, but there are many more that I do get along with and whose company I enjoy. How many people in dormitories would notice if you didn't come home one night? How many would voluntarily offer to help you in many different ways? How many would take care of you when you were sick? How many would throw a surprise birthday party for you? How many would watch out, take care, and stand up for you, and how many would remember and make sure you wake up for your 9 a.m. final, all without asking?
I know that someone will always have a seat for me in lecture, that I will always encounter a friendly face in the Infinite Corridor, that I will always have a place to go to when I need help, that I will always have a shoulder to cry on, and that I will always have a person to call at 3 a.m. to ask them a question about a problem set that I put off to the last minute. Many of my best friends are not in my sorority, but many are. I know that sororities generally have a much better reputation than fraternities, but I cannot imagine how the two can be very different. FSILGs are not hypocritical - they do have a lot of parties with alcohol, but the Greek experience is mainly about the bonds of brotherhood (or sisterhood), about improving oneself, and about making friends for a lifetime.