I was exceptionally interested and relieved to learn that there are no official sororities/fraternities at the University of Victoria. There are sororities and fraternities, but they are not recognized by the University. Tonight, I learned that there will be an attempt to overturn a rule which bars them from tabling at our university. The most surprising thing for me though, was learning that the last time this issue came up, over 100 students stayed in a public meeting for over 6 hours, passionately arguing against having organizations like sororities and fraternities on campus.
That kind of passion and that open criticism of “the Greek system” surprises and delights me. In the United States, at my old university, it was unthinkable to question sorority/fraternity culture, or think of it as anything less than this incredible organization which did so much good for the community. But I saw a different side to it, in particular, I felt a bad taste in my mouth regarding the practices of specifically Christian sororities and certain fraternities*.
Let me say this though: This criticism of the Greek system at first left me stunned, and then as I heard more criticism railed against it, I found myself nodding, and feeling a strange weight lifted off me. It’s only now in the comfort of my home that I am able to articulate what that was that I felt liberated from: Because the Greek system had been such a sacred icon in the states, and because I didn’t have enough deep interactions with it personally, I never deeply questioned all the problematic elements or why it even needed to be there. I figured that this was always the way it was, and that resistance was undesirable compared to the deliberate and careful separation I maintained between myself and sororities/fraternities in the states.
But I see now there is an alternative. I don’t have to accept it, I can fight it, have my voice be heard, and join in my sentiment on how harmful, exclusionary, and prejudiced the foundation of that system truly is. That is a new type of intellectual freedom I am greatly enjoying. If you think I am silly or stupid for not having realized this before, do give me some slack. After all, I am only 22. 🙂
* If you are wondering what it is, I will speak of two incidents without naming the sorority in question. The first involved receiving some free candy in return for entering a “draw” to win a prize. Turns out, the “prize” was having a couple of Christians invite me to what I thought was going to be a time to collect a material prize, and have them hand me cheesy pamphlets talking about how I needed Jesus to save my soul, and then going moon-eyed on me with creepy fanatic devotion when I told them I was Jewish. The second incident involved a sort of Post-secret esque event, where you hung up your “secrets” in a tent, to be read later. I thought it was just that, and didn’t notice the sponsoring of the sorority associated with it, so, feeling somewhat like King Midas’ barber, wrote down a secret pouring out my anxieties about Jaime’s transition and my own gender/sexual identity, and hung it up someplace in the tent. When I came back a little while later, my secret was gone, and other queer-themed secrets I’d seen stuck to random places had been carefully removed, and the sponsors of the event were inviting people to come to their church to “confess” their secrets to Jesus and feel relieved and saved.