RUSH IS for the mainstream. Rush is for people who dress a certain way or are a certain skin color. Rush is for mindless souls with no self-esteem. For those students currently walking around Grounds with these stereotypes in their heads, the time has come to put an end to the hype. I never thought I'd write a column in defense of the Greek system because in a lot of ways, I definitely disagree with it - with its contradictory hazing policies, its exclusive parties and its vague selection process. On the other hand, I disagree even more with students who aren't rushing who are committed to labeling the whole system as "establishment" just so that they themselves can avoid being "trendy," "superficial" or any other name they choose to label fraternities and sororities.
Currently, I can't decide which one irks me more - watching girls carry cups etched with Greek letters to class or hearing other people make sarcastic and overused comments about them before a lecture begins. It has gotten to the point where it isn't Greek students who draw attention to themselves as much as it is those students outside the system who enjoy snickering loudly and incessantly about black party pants, halter tops or dirty white baseball caps. The joke has gotten old. These cliches are as tired as the Greek system that's being ridiculed, and now that same stale argument is made over and over again, Greeks come out on top because they don't even humor the slander trying to be hurled at them.
As first-year students walk around Grounds faced with posters that ban rush as if it were a cigarette, members of the Class of 2004 instantly become pitted against each other. Students involved with rush feel defensive about their choice and are forced to band together to face the onslaught of criticism. Non-rush students might feel left out, but are instantly affirmed that they are the true winners because they are not bowing down to the Man and are staying true to themselves.
This poses two questions: Are students involved in rush succumbing to a weak moral fiber, as the whole anti-rush fervor implies? Or, are non-rush students just stronger, better people?
The answer is, of course, that neither argument makes any sense. I'm not defending rush and Greek organizations simply because of how they operate at the University specifically, but because of what they've done to help my friends at schools around the country. Rush isn't just about paying for friends or being mainstream. Instead, it's simply a long-awaited opportunity for students to make friends on large and impersonal campuses. It's a way to feel like part of a close-knit group and have a dependable set of plans for the weekend. I've never rushed and never will, but I've also been fortunate during my brief time at the University to have a group of friends I can rely on spending time with. Why do students always forget that more than anything else, the Greek system isn't simply a way of excluding some but instead including over one-third of the school?
It's so much easier to poke fun at the generic and favor eccentricity for its own sake. Of course the Greek system is one of the most traditional groups on Grounds, and of course many of their customs, from toga parties to bidding, are old and cliched. Ironically, these days it feels like other students perpetuate these stereotypes more than Greeks themselves by making the same stale observations about the obvious. Resist the urge to even bring up the words Abercrombie or Fitch when you see a boy with a fraternity t-shirt. Try to avoid the same off color jokes about weight-control issues in sororities. If you pride yourself on being an accepting, unique person, that's great, but let Greeks, for better or for worse, be their own people too.
(Diya Gullapalli is a Cavalier Daily associate editor.)