Over the past year, I developed an interesting relationship with the Greek system here on campus at IU.
I decided back in August to start working at the paper, the Indiana Daily Student. Upon getting hired, they offered me the position of beat reporter for the Greek system. What that meant essentially was that I would write about three stories a week all about Greek life--their philanthropies, events, and general culture, plus any incidents that could arise involving it. I had a decent amount of friends who were Greek, although I myself am not, so I was familiar with the Greek system. I thought it would be an easy, fun area of campus life to cover for the paper.
I was wrong.
The thing is, whether people own up to it or not, there is this unspoken tension between the Greeks on campus and the GDIs, as they're called, which stands for the "goddamn independents," or the non-Greek students. The Greeks tend to think they're "better" than the GDIs--or the GDIs at least perceive it that way--and the GDIs tend to dislike the Greek system, saying its members are privileged students who basically buy their way into friendships by rushing. Of course there are exceptions and apathetics on either side of the issue, but that's the general trend. The Greek system has also tended in some semesters past to have particular issues with the IDS.
Nobody told me this. So I took the job.
For the entirety of my fall semester, my life was full of drama and conflict between me and my Greek sources, and between the paper and Greek system as a whole. Fault lies on both sides in these situations, but there seemed to be no way to resolve it. We kept getting complaint calls and emails from the Greek system, and I kept getting rejected for interviews by members of the Greek community.
It was ironic, I thought, because honestly, I was one of the best people for the job of Greek reporting. Personally, I've always been kind of ambivalent towards the Greek system. Many of my good friends are Greek, and they absolutely love it. The Greeks do a lot of good for the community, through their philanthropies and fundraising events.
But on the other hand, it's common knowledge that they party and can sometimes put their fraternity or sorority above all else. Like anything, there's good and bad. I think it evens out, and that's why I think I was a good reporter for the job. I didn't come in with prejudices.
During my time as Greek reporter, I was amazed again and again by certain students I would interview, who were just so devoted to a cause. I got to cover Big Man on Campus, which is the biggest single-house philanthropy in the NATION, hosted by a sorority. I also got to be the reporter for IU Dance Marathon.
For each of those events, it was absolutely breathtaking when they would announce the total raised, and you could tell by the looks on the participants faces how much they cared about what they were doing. That one group of college kids could do so much for these national or local organizations blew me away every time. And so many of the participants had personal connections to the causes that were amazing, in and of themselves. It was incredible.
But, on the other hand, I had a lot of questionable sources as well. I interviewed kids who were intoxicated. Sometimes, if people forgot to call me back, I'd have to interview Greeks from their paired parties, where they would most commonly be drinking and dancing. Those are just facts. I dealt with a lot of complaints when I didn't always paint the Greek system in the light they wanted me to, and I had to explain over and over that I wasn't a PR person; I was a reporter, there to uncover what seemed to be the truth to any situation, positive or negative.
It was a semester fraught with conflict. Over and over again, the same conflicts. In the end, my editors had to meet with the Interfraternity Council to sort things out. At the very end, during my last week as Greek reporter, I got a call from one of the new IFC leaders, and at the end of the call, he said to me, "If you ever need anything--a source or information--seriously, do not hesitate to call me."
With that, it was over, and I knew that was as close to amendments as we would get, at least for that semester.
Honestly, I don't think that it matters as much as people think if you're Greek or non-Greek. There are perks to either. If you're Greek, you have an automatic friend group that will have your back no matter what. You automatically become involved in community service projects that really matter. Little 5, Halloween, and spring semester have special meaning, because of the paired parties and formals.
I was also surprised by all the rumors that turned out not to be true. For example, I'd always heard rumors of unofficial, horrible hazing. Slim to none of those panned out. Pledging is rough on the guys and rush is rough on the girls, but I didn't hear any of the horror stories I kind of expected to find. Also, many of the Greeks were nice and eager to help me, particularly when it came to philanthropies.
But, as I said earlier, I'm not Greek. I decided early on not to be. If you're Greek, it can be hard to find time for other things. It can be hard to find time for other friends. And, let's face it, there's pressure oftentimes to party more nights than not. Though of course, all that depends on the house.
What it all comes down to I think is that, as a student, you should get involved in SOMETHING, be it Greek life or, in my case, the paper. Find a family away from home, whether it's at a Greek house or just a group of friends that band together. It's just about finding a place to fit.