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Letter to the Editor

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Patrick Lawrence DelBuono & Sarah DeWitt           

Being a member of the recognized organizations Kappa Alpha Order and Alpha Sigma Alpha, and serving the Greek community through leadership roles as Roanoke College’s Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Council Presidents, the reputation and integrity of Roanoke College’s Greek organization hold considerable importance to us. Recently, concerns have been brought to our attention about Greek life at Roanoke College through an article in the ‘Opinions’ section of last week’s Brackety-Ack. 

One of the first issues voiced in the article referred to Greek life’s purpose being solely to party.  As stated in the article, the population of Greeks on campus is only a small faction, about 21 percent, of the campus community. This leaves many Maroons lacking firsthand experience as a member of the Greek community, potentiating a perpetuation of the stereotype as this segment of our campus community being a collection of hooligans.  However, Greek organizations at Roanoke College serve many functions.  Perhaps most visible to the public is our philanthropic mission.  As national organizations, every fraternity and sorority in America sponsors at least one philanthropy.  On Roanoke’s campus, Greek organizations host fundraisers to raise donations to philanthropic organization such as Children’s Miracle Network, Muscular Dystrophy Association of America, Service for Sight, Make A Wish Foundation, as well as many others.  Specific to Roanoke College is the annual event, Tyler’s Trek.  Tyler’s Trek is a Greek organized walk/run that is open to Greeks, faculty members, Roanoke students, and the surrounding community.  Last spring, Tyler’s Trek raised 6,500 dollars for the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center.

The article pointed out the insular nature of fraternities and sororities.  This is because Greek organizations do not just hand out bids to anyone interested in joining.  For all of the Greek organizations at Roanoke College and on campuses nationwide there are strict guidelines, handed down by our national offices, which tell us how we can vote on a prospective member.  Often times many factors come into play such as, “does the majority of the organization know this person”, or “what is this person’s academic record”. Our organizations are founded on the four pillars of leadership, scholarship, friendship and service. The goals and therefore the members of our organization must be believed to embody characteristics that facilitate development in these areas. We believe being part of our organizations are a privilage and being extended an offer for membership should be judged as nothing short of recognition of one’s exemplary character in the multitude of facets listed above.It should be acknowledged that just because one may not be a member of said organizations this does not completely segregate you from interacting with the Greek segment of the Roanoke College community. The article quoted an anonymous students saying “Events are not planned for other students.  It is a bond that cannot be broken so others cannot be included.”  In response to this, many of our national offices do not allow us to have “open events.”  We are instructed to follow FIGP guidelines. This means that we must have guest lists and follow other regulations such as marking the hands of those guests who are under the legal drinking age.  Also, when a fraternity or sorority has a party it is typically paid for by the members of the chapter and is meant for the members and invited guests.  It is very accurate to say the events are held exclusively for members of the Greek community, but these events are funded by the members of that community. Although some events are closed many events are open to the entire campus community; their involvement is even highly encouraged. These events include but are not limited to: philanthropy weeks, lip-syncs, and the recruitment process is open to anyone who wishes to attend.Another complaint was that Greek organizations are too visible on our campus.  Keep in mind that Greeks are visible on campus because they participate in many campus capacities outside of Greek life.  Among the Greek community at Roanoke College are tour guides, Maroon Corps leaders, resident advisors, Intramural sports players and officials, professor’s assistants, research assistants, club presidents, Salem Ambassadors, Relay for Life coordinators and participants, members of SGA, including the current SGA President.  With so much campus involvement it is hard not to draw attention to ourselves and our positive achievements.

The Greek system on Roanoke College is not perfect. It has room to grow. Members of these organizations and their leadership are working hard to maintain the positive image they desire as illustrated through all of their hard work and dedication to not only Greek life, but the campus community at large.

Many of these grievances cited in the article stem from mis-understandings and we hope that this article will clear up some of these. If anyone has questions about Greek life or would like further information, we encourage them to contact us.  After all we are all members of the Roanoke College Community and all Maroons.