|Go Greek . . . Then again, maybe don't.|
I've practiced violin until my fingers are almost ready to fall off. Enough is enough. I've practiced piano even more.I need to practice a bit less in the next few days. One can over-practice and over-learn, which can result in a mechanical sound from the musician. Where violin is concerned, I'd love for that to be my biggest problem. Having violin music that is too well-prepared would be, for me anyway, a nice problem to have.
I was thinking about fraternities and sororities today. Some people may have fond memories of them, but still I cannot help being struck by the somewhat insidious nature of the whole system. The girls in many sororities elevate snobbishness to a whole new, previously unseen level..
I had one class my first year -- introductory biochemistry -- that had quite a few frat rats and their female sorority counterparts. It was to be taught by a new associate professor. This may have given the Greek system students the feeling of a bit more power than they otherwise might have had. It's as though they took over the classroom. Even though it was my first official course, I'd been on campus in the previous semester for music lessons. There were girls in that class among the sorority girls who would be perfectly friendly to me in other settings, but once we walked through the door of that classroom, it was as though they'd never before seen me in any of our entire lives. They had mapped out about two-thirds of the seats in the classroom for themselves and their own kind. If a non-Greek sat in one of those seats, he or she would be told to move. I unknowingly , on my very first day of classes as a university student, made the mistake of sitting in one of those chairs. "Get up, bitch," was the response I received from a sorority girl. "It's not your seat."
Still being clueless, I responded to the girl, who was sitting two rows away, that it was the first session of class and we didn't know yet if we would have assigned seats. (I assumed we wouldn't because it seemed like sort of a high school thing. This was less than a year after my restroom attack, so I was a little scared, but doubted anyone would actually beat me up over this.) The girl told me that the seat was reserved for a fraternity or sorority member -- apparently they dislike even the non-Greeks even more than they dislike those from rival frats or sororities, sort of like Alexander Hamilton hated Thomas Jefferson but hated Aaron Burr even more -- and that at the rate I was going, my chances of being rushed were diminishing by the second even had I had any desire to join up with the Greeks, which I most definitely did not.
I told her that I really didn't feel like moving. She glared at me and whispered to each succeeding person who entered who appeared to have Greek affiliation. No one stuck up for me, but no one said anything to me, either.
Then the professor entered. Before he said a word, a girl who was tall, thin, bespectacled -- the prototypical serious student. -- raised her hand. "Excuse me, Dr. Brum," she said. "There seems to be some confusion here. The fraternity and sorority members have some reason to believe they can reserve a large block of seats for people who belong to fraternities and sororities. Is that an established policy in your class?"
The professor looked at her quizzically. Some frat rats and sorority members looked uncomfortable, while other looked smug.
"No," the professor responded, "It most definitely isn't." Some of the Greek sytem affiliates appeared possibly to be trying to indimidate the professor with stares. He stared right back.
"I think with this class," the professor continued, "just for my convenience, we'll sit in alphabetical order. That will make it easier on days when I choose to take roll."
"You take attendance?" one sorority girl groaned, while another whined, "This is so 'high school.' "
"Yes, it certainly is," the professor responded. "If you choose to act like you're in high school, my only option is to treat this like a high school class."
"Im outa here, " one frat rat announced as he took his belongings and left. Two others followed.
"I'd love to to drop," I heard a sorority girl mutter, "but I need this class to graduate and can't put it off any longer."
The professor called out each name on his roll sheet, and pointed to the seat he designated for the student. The sorority girls and frat rats glared as they were called to move. The non- Greeks just moved to the designated seats with no obvious expression or emotion.
The profesor took a few notes on a piece of paper, apparently in relation to the assigned seating arrangement. "There are are univeristies who segregate or discriminate, legally or otherwise, on all sorts of bases. This university isn't one of them. If you have a problem with that, come to see me during my office hours," he said, "which are listed on the course syllabus I'm handing out now. If you can't deal with non-discriminatory policies, I'll give you a list of universities and colleges that do practice official if illegal discimination." He continued. "If you choose to remain in this class anyway, you'll sit where I tell you to sit, and you'll speak when I tell you to speak, and if I don't like what I hear coming from your mouth, I'll tell you to shut up, and you will."
Only about ten of the original seventeen or so Greek system students stayed in the class, which altered the dynamics significantly. Having the Greek system students become a minority in the classroom significantly changed the dynamics of the class. They weren't bold enough to act as though they owned the place when they comprised maybe one-third of the class, and it was soon impossible just by visual scan to tell the Greeks from the Romans or anyone else. Strangest of all, they began speaking to the rest of us as though there was no actual class distinction.
It was an enlightening experience to me. I came to the university from another university town -- an area of modest wealth but of high educational level among the adults in the community. If a snob empire existed there, and it probably did to some degree, it would have been based on everyone's parents' levels of education and not on family finances. This was my introduction to the idea that how much money one's parents had stowed away had any correlation with how one might be seen and treated by his or her peers. I, for one, refuse to be pushed around by the frat and sorority members and will continue to refuse to be intimidated in any way by them. I'm seeing my peers grow increasingly less bothered by the snobbishness of the Greek system. Its members are, to me anyway, irrelevant on our campus, and it seems to me that others feel that way as well.