I have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback students have given on a story about Greek-letter diversity on campus. Much of the feedback has been positive, pointing out that raising the issue is a good first step to addressing possible improvements. But there are others who are outraged by comments in the story they deemed racist and narrow-minded. I am most appreciative of these people.
There are many worlds comprising University life. There are student organizations attracting people of a particular race, who have similar entertainment interests, who have the same hobbies, etc. Students with similar academic issues or who work together out of class add to the endless list of mini-worlds that comprise the GW experience.
As students, we often get stuck in these worlds and close our eyes to what other people on campus are doing. We discount the Student Association as a bunch of political hacks without seeing that many members are working hard to improve our lives. We discount the Program Board as an ineffective organization without finding out what obstacles they have encountered. If we are in Greek life, we characterize other fraternities and sororities as different without really exploring the similarities to find common ground and interests.
These assumptions go even further, as we figure racism does not exist on this campus, that friends close to us do not contemplate suicide and that sexual assaults do not happen here. These thoughts are all a natural result of students failing to explore worlds beyond our own and see the whole picture of their community. We at The Hatchet try to give our readers at least a glimpse of that bigger picture, and it is not always a pleasant sight.
What readers got last week was an honest and accurate account of what some students here think about how far Greek diversity has come at GW. If people are shocked to read that some students seem to fail to grasp the idea that race doesn’t define a person, then good. If readers are shocked to find out leaders of some groups don’t see the importance of diversifying Greek life at GW, even better. Hopefully, we have helped you expand your vision of campus life and identify ways to improve it.
This phenomenon is not unique to GW. Students at every university in the country are guilty of putting on blinders and defining their university through a narrow scope. But it is encouraging that GW students care enough to examine their beliefs, and hopefully GW will see positive change because of it.
It seems we have already made progress: members of the Alpha Phi sorority showed up to a step show last weekend, saying they hope to improve the relationship between Panhellenic Association and traditionally black sororities.
I encourage readers to speak out when they don’t like something they read. It not only helps our paper analyze our coverage, but it often helps start much-needed dialogue that universities thrive on.
–The writer, a senior majoring in journalism, is Hatchet editor in chief.
This article appeared in the February 25, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.