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Advice to Fraternities and Sororities: Try Friendship

Guest column by Farhan H. Zaidi

I can understand why members of the Greek system were outraged by the column written by Stacey E. Blau '98 ["Hypocritical Fraternities Embarrass MIT," Feb. 25]. What I cannot understand is why they felt the need to attack dormitories and MIT students outside the Greek system in the process of defending brotherhood, sisterhood, Robin Hood, or whatever exactly it is they're defending.

Need examples? Shawdee Eshghi '99 saying that, as one of the "shining lights" of MIT, the Greek system "promotes the very leadership skills, social skills, and community awareness that the stereotypical MIT student consistently lacks" ["Uninformed Blau Embarrasses MITwith Column," Feb. 28]. As if all us non-Greeks are down on our knees begging our leaders, the mighty Greeks, to lead us (since we can't do it ourselves) out of our completely socially dysfunctional and insular lives.

How about Jay B. Bailyn '00 talking about how MacGregor House modified their higher floor windows "because they were losing too much money replacing the windows that MacGregor residents flung themselves out of" ["Offensive Column Lacked Logic," Feb. 28]? If Blau's mentioning of the Lambda Chi Alpha incident was in poor taste, then I do not even know how to categorize this totally unnecessary allusion to the tragic suicide at MacGregor last year.

Then, Bailyn claims that "depressing, bland, jail cell-like dormitories" have as much personality as government housing. I find it bitterly ironic that in his outrage over the sweeping and inaccurate generalizations made by Blau, Bailyn manages to make one of his own. I honestly don't think students living in dorms would liken their abode to the state penitentiary. But then again, since Eshghi pointed out that Greeks are light-years ahead of us dorm students in terms of community awareness, maybe Bailyn is more qualified to explain to us what living in a dorm is really like.

In defense of us non-Greek students, I'd like to comment on a point made over and over again in a Greek response to Blau's column. That brothers and sisters are there for each other. Shang-Lin Chuang '98, in her heartfelt column ["FSILG Sisterhood and Brotherhood Not Hypocritical," Feb. 28], even enumerates things that sisters do - like "notice if you didn't come home one night," "voluntarily offer to help you in many different ways," "take care of you when you were sick" - and she wonders out loud if fellow dorm members would do those tasks for each other.

As for us non-Greeks, we have these odd relationships called friendships. It's really strange - you do things for each other because you want to, and not because you like to pretend to be biologically related or prefer to classify yourself under the same three Greek letters or anything like that. To Chuang and all the other Greeks who claim that their system offers relationships that can't be found on the outside, I strongly recommend trying this friendship thing. You may be surprised at what you find.

I did read about one thing that Greek relationships consist of that I cannot say translates very well to mere mortal friendships. Wallace B. Davis '00 wrote in his column that he would "give anything for my brothers, including give my life to save theirs" ["Frat Bashing Shows Prejudice, Ignorance," Feb. 28]. Well, to those of you who take Davis' Three Musketeers oath seriously, fine. For the non-gullible realists among us, however, it just seems like maybe dormmates simply are honest about what they would and wouldn't do for each other.

In ending, I'd just like to ask all the concerned Greeks out there not to worry for all us non-Greeks. Even though our sibling count tends to be a lot lower than yours (I only have two brothers and one sister myself), we have friends. We're going to be OK.