Going Greek; Greek Culture at Memorial

By James Desjardins

Due to article submission length constraints, this letter will be submitted in 3 parts. Part 1 of 3.

MUN does not have a Greek culture. It has the seeds of what could one day grow into one, but it is not there yet. As of writing this there are three Greek letter organizations (GLO) in Newfoundland. There is Sigma Theta Pi, which has been on the scene for over 3 years now, and most recently the two new sororities, Nu Delta Mu and Delta Psi Delta, who’ve only officially been around for a few months now.

So unless your sample size of three infants can count as a “culture”, MUN definitely does not yet have one. This is a great fact, because it means that the idea of a Greek culture on campus can be defined by the people who will take interest in the culture, and promote the lifestyle (i.e. get involved).

There seems to be a predominant culture of ignorance on campus these days. It’s shocking that university students appear to lack, or actively decide not to use, even the basic research skills their professors try to instill on them. Instead of formulating opinions and ideas based on evidence and critical thinking/investigation, it appears students at Memorial typically shoot-from-the-hip, trust-in-their-gut, and watch way too many movies.

It is important to remember that the Greek culture evolves over time and can include a wide diversity of different socio-cultural zeitgeists (spirit of the time). Additionally one should be careful not to paint with a wide brush; Greek life varies from campus to campus in much the same way as socio-cultural life varies from city-to-city, province-to-province, and so forth. If you really want to talk about Greek life, you need to talk about it at the local level and consider the societal and cultural ideas of the time that influenced life in that geographic area and in that historical period. Because of this it is hard to define exactly what life in a Greek system is like, especially in general terms, and especially in the context of where a system does not yet exist (at Memorial). Again I’ll reiterate that public participation and involvement can have a huge hand in shaping the Greek culture at Memorial.

In spite of the fact that it is hard to pin down what Greek life is, I shall attempt to speak broadly about what it means to be Greek, while highlighting some exceptions to the typical “norm”. Typically Greek letter organizations encompass fraternal and sororal systems (Latin words frater and soror, meaning “brother” and “sister” respectively). Fraternity is usually understood to mean a social organization composed only of men, and sorority one of women (sometimes called women’s fraternity); co-ed groups are usually called “co-ed fraternities”. The majority of fraternal and sororal organizations tend to be exclusive to a specific sex. But that doesn’t mean they all are, and nor does it mean they are exclusive to specific gender either. It depends on the historical foundations and traditions of the specific organization. This means that there are many GLOs who break the stereotype.

 
Filed under Letters on Thursday, March 7th, 2013 at 8:26 pm.
 

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