On November 30, a junior Indiana University student, Colin Shassberger, wrote a letter to IndyStar’s editor to express his (intensely opinionated) thoughts and assumptions about Indiana University Fraternity Council’s recent suspension on Greek life social events. Now, Colin, I am sure that you are expecting someone to reply to this post considering you called out the entire Greek life community and made points using only one statistic, where you split up the percentage of those in Greek life and those not in Greek life (incredibly in-depth mathematical skills used there, but it also is the first Google search if you used assistance). As someone who is just as passionate about the reputation of Indiana University, the safety of my friends, classmates and family here on campus and also the positive experience for each of the Greek life members, here is my take as to why Indiana University is doing just fine.
I want to begin by addressing your point that, “Greek culture’s destructive reputation has dominated any news of the university, distracting from the accomplishments and progress our school has made.” Just three weeks ago, Indiana University Dance Marathon broke their own record and raised $4,203,326.23 for the kids of Riley’s Children Hospital. Tonight, Indiana University’s Men’s Soccer will battle in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament quarterfinals and students, staff and alumni filled the Armstrong Stadium to represent cream and crimson. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business is ranked fourth in Bloomberg Businessweek’s undergraduate programs and stands at number one among all public universities (Vlashakis 2016). Along with these three examples, there are hundreds of other remarkable accomplishments that are publicized and celebrated every single day at Indiana University. From our exceptional athletics and being a member in the biggest athletic conference of the nation to being credited for our sensational academic facilities, faculty and opportunities, Greek life has not dominated Indiana University’s progress, but instead was a leading story for the past three days.
Colin, this is now where you begin to get extremely judgemental towards Greek life as a whole. I would like to restate your fourth paragraph in your published piece, “A self-imposed three-month suspension is just an attempt at positive publicity. It really fixes nothing at all. A suspension doesn’t stop rape culture. It doesn’t stop the promotion of binge drinking and substance abuse. It doesn’t stop the spread of toxic masculinity, sexism and homophobia.” First of all, you are ignorant to believe that you can put rape culture blame on Greek life as a whole. According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN),75% of perpetrators are 21 or older, 9% are between the ages of 18 and 20 and 15% are 17 or younger. The lowest percentage of perpetrators are of the age of individuals in Greek life along with every other single individual not in Greek life, not at Indiana University and not in Greek life at Indiana University across the entire nation. If you would like to take an actual stand towards rape culture, I will be glad to invite you to my sorority’s next philanthropy event, as we raise thousands of dollars per semester to support our local Middle Way House for domestically abused women. Tagging this along to the spread of “toxic masculinity”, sexism and homophobia, I would recommend you find evidence behind this. On November 2 of this year, I personally attended a convocation presented by Johns Hopkins University’s Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Tara Fuller, where it was presented that each chapter officially accepts every single individual, as seen fit, despite their ethnicity, race or sexuality. Greek life does not promote toxic masculinity, Greek life does not condemn sexism and homophobia and lastly, Greek life implements a plan during every single social event to keep every individual (male or female) safe, protected and healthy.
Since I assume you have not done your research about the Greek community’s risk management plans, correct me if I am wrong, let me quickly point those out to you. First of all, Indiana University long-ago banned the presence of hard alcohol from any social events and implemented only beer and wine for individuals 21 and over should be present. Second, before each social event there are six or more chapter members and two executive board members who stand as sober (from drugs or alcohol) for the entirety of the event, each individual present at the social event is checked in and checked out, each individual over the age of 21 is given a wristband to clear their consumption of alcohol and whomever the social event is with, will co-sponsor each of these actions. All of these implemented precautions create a safe environment for each member of either chapter, making a Greek social event distinctly safer than any un-housed or off-campus event where there are no precautions taken.
Lastly, I want to ask you a question. How does the actions of the Greek community affect you? Within your post, you never explained how this has so negatively affected your college experience or anyone else that you are apparently speaking for. Second, who has forced you to be silent up to this point? You state, “I refuse to remain silent while the Interfraternity Council and IU administration decide how Greek life moves forward,” and “We deserve to have our voices heard,” If you wanted to speak up about your (less than supported points, judgmental opinions and ranting assumptions) experience with the Greek community, you are more than welcome to do so at any point.
Colin, thank you for writing this piece because it truly reminded me of how incredible the core of Indiana University Greek community really is. We raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for local and national charities, we make friends, sisters and brothers who will stand by us for a lifetime and we get to be apart of something bigger than ourselves every single day.