Beware The Greeks

Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Exclusivity

Like 90% of y’all, I learned about the deep campus need and subsequent proposed revival of sororities via The Phoenix (this isn’t product placement; I’m 110% Team Gazette). Like everyone I’ve talked to, which includes my shift partners at McCabe, friends, people who were holding The Phoenix and snorting violently — and a couple of interested squirrels — I hold a deep distrust of allowing more Greek life on campus.

My reaction, which involved a lot of hand gestures and hair-tugging, jolted both from the institution itself and its formulation re: this intrepid trio spearheading the proposal. We were assured, multiple times, that the interest of the pro-sorority camp is solidarity and equal rights. So let’s talk about (their conception of) solidarity and equal rights.

Here is the equation that is the current status quo: fraternity + (-sorority) = unfair.

Here is the only equation offered as a solution: fraternity + sorority = fair.

Here is the equation purposefully swept under the rug into a trash chute which leads to a black hole in the beta quadron of a parallel universe: (-fraternity) + (-sorority) = fair.

Here is why the status quo equation is some bullshit: there are more than two genders.

I mean, solidarity and equal rights, right? Where’s the trans*ity? And trans* isn’t necessarily a gender, just a convenient label to denote everyone whose lives bust up hetero- and cissexist ideas about gender. So, where’s the proposed femmernity? The proposed bigenderority? How about the proposed agendernority? Where’s the proposed genderfuckdaddyslittleboifairyities?

There’s no such thing as solidarity and equal rights when you’re working within a transphobic framework.* Greek life was transphobic historically and continues to be so today, as my friends from other schools tell me: you can bet your sweet ass trans womyn weren’t allowed into sororities and still aren’t on most campuses (and vice versa for trans men). The very system, which is structured around gender binaries, clearly falls apart under some pressure.

But viva la solidarity, baby.

If we can all step past the shimmery cloak of illusory good intentions draped around this proposal — in other words, I call bullshit — we can talk about the institution itself, the idea of Fraternities and Sororities.

What’s the investment in the -ities? Is it, as seemed implied by the proposers’ logic, about having another (non-dry) party space? Is it about a desire to interact with or embody a certain kind of man or woman? What kind of man or woman is that? Does that man or woman look a certain way, a way dictated by White and cissexist standards? Is that man or woman’s success rooted in classist, capitalist ideas?** Maybe, for some men or women, they don’t see a Man or Woman but the beer-soaked aura of Fraternities and Sororities. So, is the investment in the -ities about the name, the idea, the histories? Who can afford to lay claim to those things? Why repeat history when we could form many small communities, some not even predicated on gender, which would suit many more Swatties’ needs?

(If we’re gonna go a little conspiracy theory here, an important piece of this puzzle, I think, is the growing valorization and accommodations made for the culture of varsity athletics on this campus by administrators. It’s no surprise, to me, that we’re seeing this proposal as we prep Garnet Weekend’s timing for — possibly — a far-future return of homecoming and football, athletes’ ability to miss mandatory Orientation Week workshops for scrimmages, and the creation of special athletics-centered tours.)

tl;dr: Let’s ease our collective cultural death grip on antiquity (which is sadly not dead but fled after serious plastic surgery to a small island off the coast of Florida). Let’s move on from what doesn’t work, doesn’t need to work. Let’s try something new. Scrap sororities, scrap fraternities and open up our way of engaging with others and imagining community beyond the traditional and the limiting.

*Or a racist, classist, capitalist et al. framework.
**There are fraternities and sororities that are explicitly set up for both religious and racial “minorities.” There are also brothers and sisters of many different backgrounds and identities in all fraternities and sororities. I’m not talking about individuals here — I’m talking about the system of thought and its consequent workings.

MC is a member of the class of 2012.


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212 comments

    1. 0
      Bob Dole says:

      Nice. Not sure if you’re all one person, but I’m a big fan of the ___ Larson figures. Filling a big Soren-sounding hole in my life.

      Also, pretty appropriate comment, assuming google translate got it right for me.

      1. 0
        A Larson says:

        Many of the “Larsons” are a single person, who began the tradition with the blessing of the namesake himself. They are all from the same friend group, who comes up with a lot of them together.

  1. 0
    anon says:

    Its incredible how condescending MC is. For someone who wants a whole lot more tolerance in the world you seem to do a lot towards discouraging it. You have to be aware that the people who are actually intolerant, who you actually want to educate are going to be incredibly turned off by your hostility. It is easy to criticize people for lack of knowledge. I am assuming the reason you take such strong offense with anything remotely offensive someone says is because you think it perpetuates a mindset of intolerance. I think there are two problems with this first that it is not necessary to harp on every single incorrect term someone uses. I think you would be hard-pressed to show how someone who uses a term incorrectly is perpetuating an ideology. Even if they are, simply correcting the term doesn’t do anything towards actually addressing the underlying ideology it merely allows you to incorporate it into your attack on their expertise. If you truly wanted to issues that are important to you, you would pick specific issues that are particularly pertinent and explain how posts relate to those ideas and are intolerant. This would be much more effective than simply ranting about every possible intolerant topic under the sun. Though admittedly the latter is much more satisfying. It might be true that you can criticize the institution without criticizing the individuals but it is important to recognize that as human beings that’s not how we’re going to take it. It is incredible to me that someone who takes such issue with stereotypes can turn around and incorporate so many of them into a post and not be bothered. This is all besides the fact that you clearly have in mind a few very specific sports and are generalizing off that. Many freshman are likely reading this heated discussion, and you are making it appear that Swarthmore students who are not athletes are indeed biased against athletes. This is incredibly off-putting. This may be what you were going for but its still bewildering and offensive. Try to put yourself in an athletes shoes for a little bit and see how you’d feel reading your posts.

    1. 0
      Miriam G. says:

      I agree completely with anon. I think MC has made really important, valuable points (and I agree with most of them) but with a hostility and condescension (even towards people who were not hostile first, in my opinion, although I don’t think two wrongs make a right *anyway*) that is unlikely to make people reflect thoughtfully on these issues and is quite likely to hurt their feelings. I could be wrong (and that disclaimer is not sarcastic), but I don’t think that getting privileged people to consider alternative perspectives requires hurting their feelings. It’s important not to oppress groups of people, but it’s also (arguably less) important not to hurt individuals’ feelings, and I don’t think we need to choose between the two.

    2. 0
      Sara '12 says:

      Although I think I understand some of what you’re saying, I would be careful about your approach, and direct you to sections of Derailing for Dummies that seem somewhat relevant to this post. This makes for a bit of a long post, but I think it’s important.

      You’re Being Hostile
      Especially Marginalised People™! Know why? Well, since they’re marginalised, they experience a variety of discriminations, usually in many aspects of their daily lives. It is not at all unusual, therefore, for Marginalised People™ to have to be accustomed to being very, very cautious about the way they engage with the Privileged®. This is because discrimination may mean they routinely encounter violence, silencing, oppression or just good old-fashioned outright ridicule and diminishment. That can make life stressful and exhausting, so many Marginalised People™ develop complex strategies to avoid hostile engagements with Privileged People® .
      Further to this, Marginalised People™ are forced into a certain sort of social behaviour by Privileged People® – “appropriate” behaviour. After all, there are different rules for them than there are for the Privileged®. This training in “appropriate” behaviour usually begins when they are very young, so it is well-ingrained.
      By accusing them of hostility, you will successfully enliven their sense of caution and anxiety around this matter. You may also provoke a feeling of guilt that they are not “behaving” the way they have been trained to.
      But even better – by accusing them of hostility, you pass the blame back to them, rather than consider what you might have said that was so offensive and hurtful it caused the “hostility”!

      You’re Just Oversensitive
      What you’re implying is that the Marginalised Person™ is looking for offence where none exists.
      Once again, you’re disowning your own responsibility, and this is absolutely the crux of any derailment – you just can’t repeat or reinforce it often enough. No matter what, none of this is your fault – nothing you said that was hurtful, offensive, bigoted or discriminatory is really to blame here, because you said it in all innocence! After all, what reason have you ever had to examine your ingrained prejudices? Why should you start now?
      So you want the Marginalised Person™ to know this is how you feel and that you really believe the responsibility is all theirs – if they weren’t looking so hard for offence, everything would be a lot more pleasant!

      Don’t You Have More Important Issues to Think About
      As with the best of all these techniques, this step operates on several levels. First of all, it communicates to the Marginalised Person™ that you think the entire debate is trivial and below consideration, indicating you entirely disregard their feelings and emotions. Secondly, you disown responsibility for your part in the debate and anything that you’ve said that may have been discriminatory or offensive.
      Finally, you reinforce your Privilege® by suggesting that it is Privileged People’s® job to set the agenda for the Marginalised Group™. After all, how could they possibly know what issues they should prioritise for themselves, they’re far too inferior and stupid! You, with your objective, ractional Privileged® perspective, on the other hand, know exactly what is most important and it is definitely not confronting you with your own bigotry and ignorance!

      You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry
      Don’t forget they encounter this kind of discrimination in subtle ways every single day of their life, so they’re bound to be emotional about it, even resentful.
      You can take advantage of this weakness to emerge the victor! After all, everyone knows the Marginalised™ have an obligation to conduct themselves with quiet dignity in the face of infuriating tribulation and if your quarry begins to get angry and “aggressive” then you have won!

      You could even drop this little bomb: “You are damaging your cause by being angry, real understanding can only happen if all sides are respectful and patient”.
      Not only do you come across as a smug, self-righteous asshat (though you may prefer the term “bigger person”) you can also manage to subtly make them feel guilty about their anger, as though it’s undeserved! Everybody wins! Well, except them of course.

      1. 0
        MC says:

        Hey-o, all,

        Sorry for the untimely reply. I took a sabbatical to do schoolwork (lol, still no seminar presentation for tomorrow) and a breather. I’m one of those people who hates to orphan a piece, as you’ve noticed, and I’ve been trying to keep up, but … there’s a lot of comments. HUZILLA, I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT YOUR QUESTION, I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN YOU.

        First, to Sara and Alex and um and dirtycommiehippie and anyone who’s stepped up to the plate to clarify stuff or explain stuff, thank you.

        I completely agree with Miriam and a guy and even A GIRL in the sense that I think a discussion should be carried out with respect by all parties. (Also, props, Miriam, for using your name.) Unfortunately for y’all, the stuff Sara is saying is something I absolutely believe in — I’m Team DG and Team “Marginalized Folks Are Under No Obligation to be Civil When They Feel Like People Are Trying to Silence Them or Attack Them.” I believe that for all marginalized folks, which means I’m sometimes in the position of getting told to sit down, shut up and listen. And, heyo, I’ve said it multiple times: I fuck up on the regs. I’m only here saying this kind of stuff because people have been generous enough to teach me.

        I wrote an article about how the institution of Greek life is transphobic. It was also about how the original proposers weirdly elided the choice to get rid of Greek life. I mentioned some of my concerns about mainstreaming which I explicitly said were “conspiracy theories” aka not necessarily THE REAL. I then suggested, at the end, that we try to find other ways of doing. I feel that the tone is pretty matter of fact and not angry at all in the article itself.

        When commenters assume stuff about my life and use their assumptions to invalidate my arguments (while their life experiences are “more real,” something I cottoned onto early on the comment thread), say ridiculous things about the queer community while self-identifying as straight, dismiss sexual assault education as irrelevant … I’ve got no patience. You all are completely entitled to feel however you want to feel about my lack of patience. That can still upset you. That can make you like me less as a human being. That can make you glare at me while I check out your books. That’s all fine. I don’t have any patience for it, and that’s how it is from my end.

        Stuff that is a product of this comments thread just being hella long and hella nested and hard to follow are people who are repeating the same claims that I’ve either already addressed or just can’t see in my article / comments (my article relies on stereotypes — where?; Swatties R Better — hate to break your bubble, but we’ve got the same rates of sexual assault proportionally to other schools) … uh, there’s probably more. o__O

        12:30AM OH YEAH

        Could I refer them to comments? Yes. Can I respond by breaking stuff down? Yep. Do I sometimes do that? Pretty sure I did, sometimes, depending on how someone was talking to me. Do I sometimes reply in Pokemon battle format because I’m again out of patience (there was actually a reply in there, regardless)? Yep. Is that flippant? Yep.

        Do I get really tired of people demanding “civil discourse” (which I could criticize on the same grounds I criticized Greek life, but I’m not trying to uproot every neoliberal smokescreen on this thread) while they’re anonymous?

        Bingo.

        I also think there’s a general slippage between being a r00d butthole and a personal attack. A personal attack is copying someone’s FB status to here without their consent and then mocking it OR something like, “You’re worthless” or “You’re stupid.” That’s hitting the person. Is saying, “lol @ u missing the point” the same? Nope. I had this argument last year re: the Serial Monogamist article that got hella out of hand about rape.

        I could obviously refer everyone to examples of what I’m talking about, but I feel really weird using real people who talked to me (respectfully or not) as token evidence. I also have faith that most of y’all can read and comprehend for yourselves, so I’m not going to TELL you anything more than my own perception of my writing.

        So, here’s the deal.

        I’m actually really into productive conversation. I will absolutely be at this meet-up thingmajig. I take all emails from any DG thread I’m in, and I’m happy to have a meal with anyone who is still confused about concepts or my ravening mouth, etc. Email is amassi1, btw.

        I appreciate all the feedback I’ve been getting and things I’ve been learning. For the comments I fired my lazers at, hey, someone at least read SOMETHING and heard the word “transphobic” and maybe thought about it for at least a second. For people who have been talking to me, I’ve really enjoyed learning about the frats’ histories here and current operations and community. The brothers who have reached out to me have definitely made me want to go take all the tours I’ve been offered and have made me excited about this discussion in the flesh and CLP in the spring. I’ve also enjoyed getting thought-provoking questions about my position. I am especially happy — can’t say this enough — that a ton of people want to talk about parties and party safety here. THAT IS AWESOME. YES. For people who have shared deeply personal experiences, with the frats or assault, thank you for opening up to not only me but to potentially the internet.

        Sorry for the small novel again.

        1. 0
          Miriam G. says:

          Hey MC, thanks for that response. I dug what you said and the way you said it (including the tone). I feel like I understand better where you’re coming from, and now I realize you’re right that you haven’t crossed a certain line that other commenters have crossed. You’ve even made me question whether any lines you’ve crossed are ones I don’t think you should have.

      2. 0
        Miriam G. says:

        Thanks, Sara. I hadn’t thought of all the reasons behind what I see as hostility (mostly because I have a lot of privilege, I guess), or how an accusation of hostility might make marginalized/oppressed persons, specifically, feel. Your comment has reminded me that humans are human, and MC (and others on this thread, especially marginalized/oppressed persons) might just be at a point where they gotta blow off some steam. I get that, and I think that *some* anger coming through, maybe as one contribution among several others that are more respectful, does help privileged persons understand the strength of marginalized persons’ feelings, which is super important. To the extent that they can, though, I think that, if commenters could *try* not to resort to aggression or derision, this conversation would hurt/anger fewer individuals (including privileged persons, who matter, too) AND make longer strides toward reducing oppression and prejudice by creating an environment in which privileged persons do not feel so attacked that they are unmotivated to try to empathize with the oppressed persons.

        I’m sorry if, by making a suggestion for discussion, I’ve made any marginalized persons feel guilty for their anger or for what I’ve said I consider “inappropriate” action. I think marginalized persons have damn good reason to be angry, and I can understand sometimes letting this anger come across as hostility or condescension–for the speaker’s own mental health, because the speaker thinks it will be productive in that circumstance, because the speaker just didn’t think before speaking, etc. We all say things that hurt others sometimes, and I don’t think anyone’s a bad person for having done so. I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel guilty because that’s not my ultimate goal. But a call for less hostility and condescension, which I felt very compelled to make and believe I had a right to make*, necessitates an accusation of hostility and condescension, which might make some people feel guilty, and I don’t think that’s a reason not to make it.

        *MC and others, like the author of Derailing for Dummies, might disagree that I have a right to call for less hostility from Marginalized Persons, or to accuse Marginalized Persons of hostility, since I’m a Privileged Person. First of all, I disagree. I can’t really back up my disagreement because I don’t fully understand the argument that I don’t have this right. (I’d like to understand it better, if someone wants to explain it.) Second of all, I also think plenty of Privileged Persons have behaved hostilely in this discussion. I commented on MC’s behavior in particular because (a) MC (sorry… don’t know what pronoun you like) might have left more comments that I viewed as hostile than anyone else did, (b) I was piggybacking on another comment about MC’s hostility, and maybe (c) (which I didn’t think of before) I’m privileged, so MC’s hostility, and not that of other privileged persons, felt like a personal attack.

        Come to think of it, I really should have made it clear at the beginning that I think that everyone, by no means just MC, should make an effort to speak respectfully.

        1. 0
          Holden Caulfield says:

          I can answer this though it’d have to be in person or on some other means of communication because it’s too complex to discuss on this thread (it’s hard enough just finding comments posted within the past 3-4 hours lol)

      3. 0
        guy says:

        Hey Sara, thanks for including this. I really do appreciate Derailing for Dummies and link to it frequently in these kinds of debates online. I certainly don’t think that marginalized folks shouldn’t be angry, are being too sensitive , or don’t have their priorities together. However, when someone publicly raises an issue in a public forum like the Gazette, I do think everyone REGARDLESS OF PRIVILEGE has a responsibility to be respectful and avoid hurting others feelings ESPECIALLY if they are trying to persuade a change in opinion, as almost everyone on all sides here is doing. This is why I think MC’s tone/attitude needs to be checked.

    3. 0
      guy says:

      “It is incredible to me that someone who takes such issue with stereotypes can turn around and incorporate so many of them into a post and not be bothered. This is all besides the fact that you clearly have in mind a few very specific sports and are generalizing off that. ”

      AMEN, ANON.

      – gender-questioning, sexuality-questioning, not-white guy in athletics

      You know, I actually agree with most of your content, but your hostility has made me reconsider things from the other persepctive and I’m MORE pro-Greek life than I was before reading this article.

  2. 0
    amused alum says:

    “how are you going to function in the real world, where things do for the most part operate on a gender binary”

    Yeah, I mean, how do people even FUNCTION without gender telling them what to do?!

  3. 0
    Kat Clark ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is just a reminder from me, your friendly neighborhood Gazette editor, to please report any comments on the paper that you feel are blatant personal attacks on members of the community. We have received hundreds of comments in the past two days and are doing our best to only publish comments that do not contain blatant personal attacks or threats. If we have missed anything during our (very speedy) review process, please notify us as soon as possible. An intelligent debate is great, but no one should feel unsafe.

    Report any concerns to: editors@daily.swarthmore.edu

  4. 0
    A GIRL says:

    I don’t really understand where this inflated sense of self-importance is coming from, but how does a group you want nothing to do with affect you directly? New groups are chartered regularly, some of which you never hear about because you’re not involved with them. How can you judge a group that has yet to be created? Unless I missed the part where you talked about knowing each person involved with the proposal personally…oh wait. Don’t write under the pretense of being accepting and open minded and turn around and attack institutions you’ve obviously never interacted with. You’re missing a huge piece of the equation, we go to Swarthmore. I guess it’s easier to generalize if you ignore that crucial detail. Our fraternities are pretty damn diverse. If you would get over your holier than thou bullshit you’d see that they’re just as accepting as any other groups on campus. A Swarthmore sorority will ultimately be built on acceptance and diversity. No one will put you on a dryer and sharpie all the parts that move. The sorority don’t make the girls, the girls make the sorority. This hatred and fear seems like a knee jerk reaction to an image of sororities you probably got from Legally Blonde. I would save this preemptive hate until after the sorority is formed. Other than that, hate on hater.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      MC is walking through high grass.

      WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP

      A wild ANON appears!

      Go, LONGISH OP/ED!

      LONGISH OP/ED used ARGUMENT ABOUT TRANS*PHOBIC IDEOLOGY OF INSTITUTION OF GREEK LIFE!

      Foe ANON used IGNORE!

      LONGISH OP/ED used TRYING TO THINK OF VISIONS OF WHAT A TRANS* FRIENDLY WAY OF HAVING PARTY SPACES AND REC SPACES CONTROLLED BY SWAT STUDENTS!

      Foe ANON used IGNORE!

      Foe ANON used STEREOTYPES ARGUMENT!

      LONGISH OP/ED evaded! STEREOTYPES ARGUMENT cannot harm LONGISH OP/ED because its type is not STEREOTYPES!

      Foe ANON used SWATTIES R BETTER ARGUMENT!

      Good job, LONGISH OP/ED! MC, you can do it!

      MC used ISN’T THAT LETTING US OFF THE HOOK A LITTLE EASILY, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL’S LOGIC IS FULL OF ERASING RACIAL IDENTITIES AND TRANS* WOMYN FROM A SO-CALLED DISCUSSION OF SOLIDARITY AND EQUAL RIGHTS?

      MC ran from Foe ANON. Got away!

      Also, just because it’s really cute:

        1. 0
          um says:

          Probably because it is a clear outgrowth from how many comments are anonymous and similar in tone to A Girl’s; because it isn’t a personal attack but rather about the content of the comment; because the content of the comment was pretty offensive and ignorant to begin with. For starters.

          Not to say that MC’s tone wasn’t “rude.” But MC’s comment certainly wasn’t “cyber bullying.”

        1. 0
          A GIRL says:

          I was hoping for a mature response, preferably in English but okay. The fact that I didn’t include my name doesn’t make what I said any less valid. I really got a lot out of your reply though. I wonder if you’re this clever when you’re not hiding behind a computer screen.

  5. 0
    Bob Dole says:

    RE: MC’s request that someone actually respond to the article in an intelligent way

    I’m going to try. Given my education in the ways of gender studies and equality, the odds aren’t good, and I may end up just jamming my foot further down my throat, as it’s already solidly lodged in my mouth.

    Conceptually, I think you’re right on. The national institutions of Greek life are indeed racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, cissexist, etc., or at least have been at times — I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization about these institutions when I haven’t done much research into the subject. But I agree, we certainly don’t want a new fraternity or sorority which is going to espouse any sort of exclusive framework.

    It would be incredibly implausible, if not downright impossible, to create sufficient -ities to make everyone feel comfortable in one; and if we can’t make an -ity for everyone, why should we make one for anyone? I get the (maybe incorrect) sense that this is sort of the point you’re trying to make, and I’m down with that. I think it would be great if we could, as you suggest, “Scrap sororities, scrap fraternities and open up our way of engaging with others and imagining community beyond the traditional and the limiting.”

    However, I also see a problem. While I think your ideas are great as ideas, I’m not sure how they’d be possible to implement. As we’ve seen in this discussion, there’s a significant amount of support for the frats as they exist now at Swarthmore. With a lot of alumni supporting those frats as well, I just don’t see how we can abolish the fraternities — which would be necessary if we were going to try a new system altogether. The issue of ownership of the frat houses, of course, also complicates things.

    I suppose it would be possible to have the administration ban fraternities, as it did with sororities way back when. But it’s important to consider all aspects of that equation. I haven’t listed them all, but here are some relevant issues that occur to me:
    -What alternatives, if any, will be present for party spaces that are not Paces? Olde Club, on some nights, but that’s pretty much it.
    -How do we break it to all the current DU and Phi Psi brothers? Do we just say, “sorry guys, we want to break our association with the institution of Greek Life, so you’ve got to go, even though as individuals you’ve been perfectly GGG?”
    -How does the majority of the campus feel about this issue? Even if abolishing fraternities, sororities, and any other possible -ities is the right way to go, I’m reluctant to do it if it’s only supported by a select few students. I mean, I feel pretty conflicted, because I agree with that move, but I don’t want to make the lives of a whole bunch of other people worse as a result. Making up percentages here: say 10% of us want to abolish fraternities, but 35% of Swarthmore students regularly “use” the frats in some way. We’re putting the aims of our small contingent as more important than the desires of the larger group. Is that fair? And, if not, do we not care? If I can borrow a phrase of yours from earlier, like taking the pillows away from someone else so that you can get some sleep — except in this case, you might be taking away several others’ pillows just for yourself.

    I may have drifted a bit as a I wrote this, and I’m spending too much time on the DG instead of working, so please forgive me if this isn’t entirely coherent. But I’ve tried to address what I understood to be the main ideas in your original article, and maybe incorporate some of what’s been said in the discussion so far.

    tl;dr: I agree with MC that abolishing fraternities/sororities/etc. is probably the most fair thing to do. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s logistically possible, and I worry about the possibility that the negative effects might outweigh the positives in that scenario.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      I’m glad to see you posted something, almost-President Dole. I chewed on it a bit, and here are some of my thoughts.

      “Conceptually, I think you’re right on. The national institutions of Greek life are indeed racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, cissexist, etc., or at least have been at times — I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization about these institutions when I haven’t done much research into the subject. But I agree, we certainly don’t want a new fraternity or sorority which is going to espouse any sort of exclusive framework.”

      I would argue the institution is ROOTED in -ist and -phobic ideas. Even if it were perfect, the CONCEPT and FRAMING of Greek life has incredible and damaging baggage that trots along with it. That’s why I said buying into Greek life on this campus means being complicit with some of those ideas. It’s definitely still trans*phobic. I found an article from 2010 about how a Texas sorority was going to allow in a trans student … except they repeatedly identified her as a “male.” ~___~ And it was a BIIIIIG deal to let her in.

      “It would be incredibly implausible, if not downright impossible, to create sufficient -ities to make everyone feel comfortable in one; and if we can’t make an -ity for everyone, why should we make one for anyone? I get the (maybe incorrect) sense that this is sort of the point you’re trying to make, and I’m down with that.”

      Well, yes and no. Firstly, not every trans* person in the world would want an -ity, just like not every man or womyn in the world wants an -ity (PS: so happy this term has caught on). Secondly, would it be so difficult? Set up a couple of spaces run by communities (based on x shared thingamajig, gender or otherwise). I think we could actually do it and catch nearly everyone who would want to be a part of it. It always sounds like a Heraklean task, like something bigger than possible (“the real world” can’t encompass it, even), but we aren’t going to find out by dismissing the idea before we give it a shot.

      “As we’ve seen in this discussion, there’s a significant amount of support for the frats as they exist now at Swarthmore. With a lot of alumni supporting those frats as well, I just don’t see how we can abolish the fraternities — which would be necessary if we were going to try a new system altogether. The issue of ownership of the frat houses, of course, also complicates things.”

      There’s a loud amount of support from self-identified brothers. I would actually love to see a campus poll (whatever the result) on this issue. Alum money I addressed in my first comment, so many comments ago, to lalala. As I understand ownership of the frats, the school rents them out, essentially? Therefore, if the frats closed the lease … they’d just be Swat property again? Is that not accurate (seeing as I just learned how all that works, it could totally not be accurate).

      “-What alternatives, if any, will be present for party spaces that are not Paces? Olde Club, on some nights, but that’s pretty much it”

      So, my thought was that what-had-been-frat-spaces would then become run by students, in some shape or form. I didn’t necessarily see the venues as becoming non-party or something. I thought if we instituted non-Greek communities of some kind, GSIO (as Zack said), the buildings could be given over / leased to them. Again, I also see this as touching on the idea of party safety and rape culture here, which is a conversation constantly simmering beneath the surface of all the other ones.

      “-How do we break it to all the current DU and Phi Psi brothers? Do we just say, “sorry guys, we want to break our association with the institution of Greek Life, so you’ve got to go, even though as individuals you’ve been perfectly GGG?””

      I would seriously contend the claim that all brothers are GGG (anecdotal evidence, again not the place). Besides that, well, yeah. I guess that depends on how you consider these things. The ideal would be, for me, people to consider what systems they’re working under and supporting and voluntarily try things a different way. It’s an ideal for me not because there are no hurt feelings but because people got there on their own. Some people feel that it’s not necessary to get everyone’s approval before knocking apart something that’s an -ist or -phobic.

      “-How does the majority of the campus feel about this issue? Even if abolishing fraternities, sororities, and any other possible -ities is the right way to go, I’m reluctant to do it if it’s only supported by a select few students. I mean, I feel pretty conflicted, because I agree with that move, but I don’t want to make the lives of a whole bunch of other people worse as a result. Making up percentages here: say 10% of us want to abolish fraternities, but 35% of Swarthmore students regularly “use” the frats in some way. We’re putting the aims of our small contingent as more important than the desires of the larger group. Is that fair? And, if not, do we not care? If I can borrow a phrase of yours from earlier, like taking the pillows away from someone else so that you can get some sleep — except in this case, you might be taking away several others’ pillows just for yourself.”

      This I care most about.

      Like I said up top, everyone I spoke to — close friends or not — not only didn’t want sororities but asked why we still had sororities. Obviously, that’s not a scientific survey.

      I get all divided here again because I generally like when the student community here can self-govern (although that is getting more and more restricted due to the administration). In one sense, I’d be happy if everyone came to a decision together. On the other hand, shouldn’t minorities be protected too? We could borrow a lot of US rhetoric here, but sometimes the majority doesn’t care about the minority, even when it should. If we keep frats and have sororities, wellp, what do trans* people do? What space can they have? If we keep frats but reject sororities, now womyn can be added to the short end of the stick.

      So I’m very divided on the issue.

      What I ultimately think needs to come away from this conversation about frats/sororities are

      1. A re-evaluation of how, I think, a lot of people here consider Greek life as “fine” or “benign” or “harmless.” People may not necessarily be positive, but there’s a lot of shrugging.

      2. There needs to be an open discussion about party safety at the frats (and everywhere) and rape culture, and str8 men (maybe particularly brothers since they have their own space) need to just sit down and listen. I said multiple times we keep dancing around this issue, and we might as well just get it out in the open. Why would womyn feel unsafe at the frats? What’s going on there? My instinct is to trust that feeling. I’ve certainly heard stories. You can all jump up in arms at me about it, but I’m not saying anything that’s not out there on campus. (Queer spaces, btw, also very much need to have discussions about rape culture — no one is exempt from these convos).

      3. Can we adopt a different, better model? Is there a way to get all the pros out of Greek life without the Greek life?

      4. #2, again.

      (Also, being a classiks major, this whole conversation is hilarious to me.)

      Thoughts?

      1. 0
        Bob Dole says:

        This is getting me to a surprisingly unapathetic state! Good work.

        Here’s what I’m thinking: we need a discussion, in person, with lots of representation, to work out these things. Maybe a series of discussions would be better? And if we can get some administrative folks in, that’s probably a good idea.

        Topics to be addressed (essentially pirated from MC, though I’ve tried to add a bit of my own thoughts):

        1) The current state of affairs. What purpose do the frats serve? What are the pros and cons for each person/group?

        2) (more specifically) What must be changed? Things like party safety are tantamount. How can we make our parties as safe as possible, while keeping them fun? Is 100% safety a possibility while still having party spaces? If not, what amount of risk is ‘acceptable’?

        2.5) Rape culture. Where, when, and why do people feel unsafe? What actions have led to the current situation, and how can we both improve it and prevent it from degrading in the future?

        3) Making changes. Can we “edit” the current system without abolishing Greek life? This could come by way of adding more -ities, modifying the function of our current frats, or something else that I haven’t thought of/listed. Or do we need to “replace” the fraternities completely, as MC has suggested more eloquently than I can?

        3.5) Pleasing everybody. It’s a problem that MC and I both ran into when thinking about how to effect changes. I don’t claim to have the answer… but where do you demarcate between doing what’s best for the majority, and ensuring there’s no oppression of minorities? In my (most immediately) above post, I made up some percentages. Essentially, it’s not fair to screw over a larger group because a smaller group isn’t happy, right? But then, it’s also not OK to just ignore that smaller group because it’s small, right? So what do we do? How can we compromise?

        I think that this thread — all ~200 comments, as well as all the other articles on the DG, and lots of other discussions I’m sure — is evidence that somehow, change needs to happen. And I figure the best way to make that change be as beneficial as possible is to have lots of campus-wide talk about it. Let’s do it in person, because it’s faster, and we’re (hopefully) more likely to be polite to each other, right?

        So how do we get this going?

        1. 0
          MC says:

          I absolutely think that’s a brilliant agenda, Bob. It’s a huge agenda, but YES YES YES. YES. YESSSS.

          Sorry, I’ve just been waiting for people to be ready to have this conversation for a looohoong time.

          I have been mentioning all over the place let’s get a meeting set up. I know the WRC met tonight; I also know Lisa Sendrow, ’13, was gonna bring up the idea of trying to get everyone involved into a space to chat. Everyone involved (imho … or not so h, depending on how you read me) would be the WRC, LaSS, DU, Phi Psi, the op/ed authors, ANYONE WHO WANTS TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES!!!!!!!!!!!!, really the whole campus and the original proposers (wherever they are).

          Who are point people for each of those organizations is the place to start, I think, and from there it’s basically just getting a big email together, I think, and hammering out a date and a time, yes?

      2. 0
        Wes '12 says:

        Thank you so much for this, MC. I’m typically bummed by the general absence of productive ideas on the DG threads (“it’s always easier to be a critic, right?”), but this comment is pretty ballin’. Let’s do this stuff. As a str8 man, as a Swattie, I’m listening. 🙂

      3. 0
        MC says:

        And when I say, str8 men need to listen, that doesn’t mean str8 men are the only folks perpetrating rape culture or assault. It does mean that’s a lot of who I hear complaints directed at on Sunday mornings … and the people who often encouraged to speak most and loudest.

  6. 0
    Huzilla says:

    MC, you talked about some of your issues with Greek systems in general because of the gender binary culture. Do you also have an issue with varsity sports for the same reason? Should Swarthmore rid itself of varsity sports for the same reasons it should rid itself of fraternities and potential sororities?

    (disclaimer: I’m relatively new to discussions on transphobia and may be using terms incorrectly. Please feel free to correct me)

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Nah, you’re good, Hu!

      I’m sorry for this really belated reply. It’s so belated because I actually just chewed on it for a long time and even talked to a lot of other people about it.

      So, in my ideal world, there are sports.

      You pegged my position on the head: the way colleges structure varsity sports (in the division system, particularly) is transphobic. You got the reasons very nicely — there are more than two genders, so it’s essentially just the Greek life problem.

      Except not quite.

      So stuff I did not discuss and requires a more thorough conversation about gender and how it works … bodies. It just wasn’t relevant to talking about Greek life. Bodies, I mean.

      Sports I acknowledge make bodies relevant.

      I honestly believe science and medicine exaggerate a lot of claims about “sex differences.” The field of evolutionary psych and biology … I lol at, straight-up. There’s a lot of littler stuff I look really suspiciously at because it seriously benefits a cissexist society to insist on sex differences.

      trigger warning: I just drop a lot of genitalia words, and I am talking about misgendering and talking about genitalia in a trans*-inclusive way. Better safe than sorry.

      Basically, (here’s a little gender stuff for people encountering these ideas for the first time), sex and gender are mutually reinforcing in a cissexist and heterosexist society. Cis- and heterosexism work together in many ways (which is why the alliance of trans* and queer communities can make sense, except for when it doesn’t because of rampant cissexism in the queer community). “Women and men should sleep together because their parts interlock. What can two men do together that’s NATURAL? Women have vaginas, so they are gonna be feminine. All women have vaginas.”

      Proscribed sexuality makes claims about the body (heterosexuality = penis + vagina). The idea of having a sex then makes claims about gender (vagina follows to femininity because we say so), and we can then work backwards (they’re feminine so they must have a vagina! and thus be straight!!!!). I actually just read a piece of queer critique of the bible that posited that queer desire is for sameness, and I got out my stampy shoes.

      BECAUSE NO.

      Not all womyn have what most people would identify as a vagina. Those womyn may have vaginas regardless or perhaps they use another term that makes them feel comfy. Some heterosexual couples are not an equation of what we would call “real” (that hateful word again, right?) vaginas and penises.

      It can go beyond that. Some FAAB people (female-assigned-at-birth) are very hairy, either naturally or because of hormonal disorders. Their bodies blur sex differences in ways society makes painful for them (“YOU HAVE A MUSTACHE!!!! EW!!! <— I heard that one a lot growing up due to my werewolf genes). Voices can be deeper or higher. Once you start to look at variation and not just whitewash it, you start to realize sex is as constructed as gender and pretty tricky.

      People then take recourse in the chromosomes, but those aren't always helpful either. Intersexed people (besides en masse being non-consensually mutilated at birth by the medical establishment) again blur sex differences at "the most basic level."

      So, the summation is … sex differences are important for cissexism and transphobia.

      On the other hand, higher levels of testosterone generally manifest differently than higher levels of estrogen.

      Which makes “how to fix sports” really difficult.

      Here’s what I came up with.

      Allow all genders and bodies onto every team. This would mean that whoever is in charge of these rules and regs would have to actually watch this very carefully and make a concerted effort for coaches and schools to not stack a team with people, for example, who have testosterone as their predominant hormone. I feel like if you set the regs right, stuff would balance out.

      The next question is, maybe, “What about violent sports?”

      Uh, make ’em less violent. I have never understood why in men’s lax you can wallop the crap out of people but in womyn’s you can’t. Oh right. Sexism. Hey-hey. So just bring the walloping down to the minimum. (I could get into why it’s disturbing as a culture we get really jazzed about violence — myself not excepted, gamers holla — and discuss Roman ideas of spectacle, but I’ll … not).

      Locker rooms? Uh, everyone can go shower where they want? Hotel rooms: let people pick who they wanna room with?

      I’m not saying the idea is perfect or even the most feasible ever, but that’s the only way I can think of to deal with the issue of the gender binary and sex binary and transphobia without resorting to body essentialism (like, five XX players and five XY players is no good for that reason).

      Oh, and should we get rid of varsity athletics here for these reasons …

      Well, let’s set aside the question of money because yeah. I think the difference here is choice. We can form different kinds of communities; we don’t NEED fraternities or sororities. If you want to compete in athletics on the level varsity affords you (obviously we have some club sports here that could be varsity because of their intensity and kicking-butt-ness) … there’s not so much of a choice. Who would you play against? Bye-bye, States and Nationals.

      I think whether we should be invested in sports for that reason is absolutely open to critique, but a) my wrist hurts and b) I think there is an issue of choice that is maybe less in play with the frats and sororities.

      Thoughts?

      (And, yeah, this would be a major restructuring, and I’m aware trying to do anything like this on the scale you’d need to do it would be … like … … trying to swim while wearing bedsheets.)

  7. 0
    BMC'12 says:

    MC,
    I can genuinely say that based on stereotypes I see where you’re coming from with your argument about not having a sorority on campus; at one point I too believed these stereotypes. In high school I claimed that I would never join a sorority and I was in complete and utter shock when many of my friends joined them. These were women that I had a great deal of respect for and I could not believe that they would buy into that culture, however I was severely wrong with my judgments about sororities. Sure there are some that reinstate the stereotype (something that I could not imagine occurring at Swarthmore), but for the most part sororities are based around giving back to the community. Also, sororities are a support system, giving the members a place where they feel safe and comfortable to be themselves. Although you, and many others at Swarthmore may already feel this way, I am sure that there are people who may feel more connected to Swarthmore if they were given the opportunity to join a sorority. Such is the case for me at Bryn Mawr, although I clearly did not nor could not join a sorority I initially had a hard time feeling connected to the college, even though it is quite diverse and accepting of all students (straight, gay, queer, trans…). I only felt connected to Bryn Mawr after I joined an athletic team where I met a group of strong, passionate, intelligent, and caring young women. My team had my back no matter what and for the first time I felt connected to the college.
    I would like to state that I in no way see my athletic team as a sorority nor Bryn Mawr as a sorority, but I feel there are some comparisons that can be made. I also have to question what you think of gender bias based on a women’s institution such as Bryn Mawr. Much of your argument was based on gender equality and acceptance, but I have to say even though Bryn Mawr is a “women’s college” it is one of the most accepting places I have ever been, and continues to accept transgender students and students in transition regardless of the women’s college title. I see no reason why a sorority at Swarthmore could not do the same. If someone associates as a female, I would like to think that Swatties in a sorority would accept them as such and would welcome them into the sorority. Also, I certainly would expect that nothing would be based on sexual orientation, as that is not how the Swarthmore students I have come into contact with act or think.
    As far as hazing goes, from my personal experience it can be extraordinarily welcoming and fun. I’m not sure if you have heard of “Hell Week” at Bryn Mawr, but all freshmen that wish to participate ask a sophomore to be their “heller” and receive a schedule of embarrassing and fun things to do during the week. Everything on the schedule is optional, but I found the more into my tasks I got the more fun I had, and the consequence of this was closer friends and feeling a stronger connection to the community at Bryn Mawr.
    Again, I do not see Bryn Mawr nor athletic teams here as sororities in any way, but I can say that being surrounded by empowering women and joining a much smaller group of them in athletics has certainly enhanced my experience. I think that the same would be done for a student joining a sorority at Swarthmore and I believe that a Sorority would surprise you with by the social boundaries that would be pushed and the ways the sorority would give back to the community.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      My article almost didn’t deal with sororities explicitly at all, so I’m confused about the majority of your comment.

      “Much of your argument was based on gender equality and acceptance, but I have to say even though Bryn Mawr is a “women’s college” it is one of the most accepting places I have ever been, and continues to accept transgender students and students in transition regardless of the women’s college title”

      Does BMC accept trans womyn? I know there are trans men and all kinds of trans* folks over there (I dated a Mawrtyr briefly), but do y’all accept trans womyn? My understanding is that womyn’s colleges almost universally do not. I’m not trying to take away from its strengths, but there’s a real problem with any gender-exclusive space that won’t accept people of that gender, regardless of whether they were assigned it at birth or not.

      So, yeah, I’m just confused, basically. Gender-exclusive spaces are not necessarily all bad, and marginalized genders deserve spaces (I made this point up above somewhere), but you’re not addressing why this campus needs to maintain and re-adopt a transphobic model of socialization.

  8. 0
    smh swarthmore says:

    Maybe the reason that people have a hard time believing that this so-called “crisis” is legitimately based on concerns over equality for women and safe spaces for women is that the main proponents (and yes, that means LaSS, despite the courtesy-inclusion of Ms. Ensign and Ms. Feingold) do not seem to have tried very hard to explore all avenues to pursue those goals. In fact, it’s almost as though they quickly landed on “a space to for women to play pong” because that’s all that they want! But that couldn’t be true, right? Consider this: there are two more feasible and, quite frankly, more effective (in terms of addressing your alleged concerns) alternatives to consider: 1) dismantle the Greek system, which many other LACs have done, or 2) work more concretely with the explicitly-named WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTER.

    The failure to pursue the latter is particularly galling. LaSS makes excuses that they have asked but been rebuffed, but of course they would never consider working from within the leadership, to constructively help create policies. No, it’s BUILD A SORORITY or bust, right? News flash, the intercultural groups (all six million of them) all share a single space in the IC Center and somehow that works because of communication and partnership. But when the necessity of a sorority is questioned, proponents only respond, “How dare you question our motives we don’t just want to drink do you want us to make a sandwich now you sexist piece of crap?”

    Or maybe most people on this campus find it hard to believe in the proponents’ espoused motives because they are made up of individuals with this attitude: [The Daily Gazette does not condone personal attacks on members of the community and we have removed this portion of the comment] …while I would never generalize a group from the singular, I’m pretty sure there are not many more than 22 people who would defend the idea of a sorority very vehemently and that comment has gotten 22 likes. Sadly. Yes, Sorority Supporter, you have TOTALLY convinced us that this sorority will be completely unlike the ones in universities elsewhere! But screw those nerds in their cubbies at McCabe, amirite?

    LaSS and other supporters of a new sorority: perhaps consider that YOU have no idea what goes on throughout this campus, and throughout this nation. If your goals are what you say they are, then maybe you should think your processes through.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Zack and Carmen are on top of this one … there’s enough bullshit anonymity flying around this article, these comments, this proposal. At least sign your name when you call someone out or better yet talk to them personally (since you can see their status).

      Also, a call to the “nation?”

      Like Zack said, I’m more on your side of this than the other eighteen sides, but not cool.

    2. 0
      ZW'12 says:

      If people were drawing line in the sand, we’d probably be on the same side of that line in terms of our rudimentary opinions against the current proposal.

      BUT, I call cyberbullying on paragraph 3. Sorry, you don’t name this person, but rather than engage this person directly, you instead take their comments to a much more public venue and then harangue them for it. At least this person had the fortitude to put their name on their opinion. You don’t, and in your tactics delegitimize your argument.

    3. 0
      Carmen says:

      Oh, I’m sorry–did you survey all supporters of the sorority to find that it comprises of just LaSS? Somehow–I doubt it, because if you actually talked to one of us instead of passively aggressively targeting individuals in the DG comments, you would find that we are actually NOT all in support of a sorority. That person’s status doesn’t even mention the sorority, does it? Forgive her for being a little angry at a lot of uncalled for negativity being directed at a student group that does nothing but positive things on this campus. Or are you against raising money for breast cancer research, the Alzheimer’s Association, Women’s Way, and Take Back the Night? Or maybe you are against trying to help girls in third world countries obtain sanitary supplies so they can attend school?

      Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear that we attended several board meetings at the WRC and were treated with great hostility and told lies about our past activities to keep us from sharing the space. Sorry if we didn’t want to sit around at their board meetings to get shit on some more. The person who posted that status has every right to defend the good things we do, because we do a lot of good things for a group our size. But you carry on hiding behind your anonymous gazette comments. Real brave. Bet those upvotes make you feel real big, don’t they?

      Funny you claim that you would never generalize from an individual, but are assuming Julia Melin represents every single member of LaSS. So if you want to talk to the ACTUAL SUPPORTERS OF A SORORITY about the problems you have with the way they are going about this, go right ahead. Or if you want to talk about what any individual member of LaSS thinks, ask us. OR if you find someone’ status on facebook problematic or offensive, confront them about it. I don’t have a problem with anything of those things. What I am going to take issue with is you sitting around being an anonymous cyber bully.

      So you can scurry back to McCabe now, thanks.

  9. 0
    Ana Apostoleris '13 says:

    Wow. … I don’t really have a lot to add to the discussion itself, except that this is probably the most heated I’ve ever seen a DG thread get, and that’s saying something. Props for the debate, I guess, Swatties…

  10. 0
    Tony says:

    On generalizations, generally:

    Would someone clarify why an argument about the negative aspects of institutions, ideologies, or group identities should not be interpreted as personal by those who closely identify with those institutions? (Or why the sweeping nature of the statement has consistently been the excuse or refuge of its utterers above?)

    All this especially given the incredibly influence of institutional affiliation on individual identity.

    (“Critiquing a dominant and harmful system, or parts of one, does not necessarily–and certainly does not here–entail criticizing the individuals involved in that system.” from “um,” is just one example of this.)

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Hey, Tony,

      I actually have not been arguing for people to not take this personally. In fact, I’ve acknowledged it’s deeply personal — I’m aware being a brother is a part of one’s identity. And I, to some degree, made it personal when I said that folks are complicit in these power structures when they buy into them.

      I do disagree that I’ve said anything more, in the article, about brothers than that, whereas a lot of people keep trying to read my feelings on athletes, frats, men, str8 people, unicorns, etc, out of the article. I did say a little bit about athletic culture, I think. And if I wanted to talk about DU and Phi Psi, how they work on this campus, it would be a very different article and quite aware that the frats here, a bit, subvert expectations of frats. It would also be aware that they don’t, always (Disorientation).

      Does this help?

    2. 0
      Alum says:

      Tony, here’s how I see it: if these brothers are so thoroughly offended when MC (accurately) describes gender exclusive Greek Organizations in general as trans*phobic (c’mon, it’s basically a tautology!), maybe they should spend a little tiny bit of that energy they are putting into raging in comment sections into pondering why they’ve invested so much of their identity into organizations that are trans*phobic? They should call MC’s bluff; DU and Phi Psi could immediately eliminate any possible associations with trans*phobia if they both immediately started concerted, highly visible campaigns to promote the recruitment of all masculine-identified people into their ranks. Seriously, wouldn’t that be great?

  11. 0
    Max '12 says:

    Re: For Real ’13

    If we don’t confront our prejudices/assumptions and deal with them now, all we will be doing in your “real world” is reinforcing the status quo. Yeah, we’re privileged to be in a place where we can have thoughtful conversations about stuff you wouldn’t expect the average person to think about on a daily basis. However, whether I quote Spiderman or the plaque on the side of Parrish, the message is essentially the same: we have a limited time here, so we’ve got to use it well and get shit addressed now.

  12. 0
    Donny says:

    Hey Carmen,

    You are allowed to be snark. I wasn’t trying to make the remark dismissively on the count of gender so much as I was just surprised the motives that were expressed to me via the Phoenix article. Perhaps the quotations and the like were not properly chosen and i was unable to properly grasp the real outlook of a sorority at Swat but I truly believe that the inclusive community you are hoping to foster would only further be deterred by the constraints of a sorority as opposed to a club. I like LaSS. I like what they do, and yes, I believe they could do more, but as MC said, people overcommit themselves before finding what clubs truly appeal to them. If a space for LaSS is the answer, then as I said, block in a Lodge or Lodges adjacent to one another or Kyle house. Those spaces were made for sororities, and even though you would not hold the illustrious title, the alumni network you can establish through Swat alone as well as the tradition of lets say Lodges 2-3 becoming the LaSS lodges could make for an interesting change in the dynamic of campus life without truly altering anything, putting an end to this debate. Look at the housing Co-op project. They are put in charge of their own lodge/ space and as of now have successfully created an independent group environment that caters to the community as well as remaining loyal to each other.

    I know this issue is gender sensitive but i’m looking beyond that and speak in terms of all clubs at this point (and again, if i misinterpreted, forgive me because I really am not trying to make this a gender issue despite the whole sorority association with gender), but gaining possession of a house is not feasible. The college does not want to give you one. The college barely wants the frats to have theirs as it is. Explore options within the constraints of the community. This is going to end with the entire campus at arms; roommates pinned against one another etc etc. There are ways to “legitimize” and I use that term lightly because I see LaSS as a legitimate organization, your groups without bringing more Greek life into play.

    . . . and as for the fraternities, we serve the same purpose that LaSS does except on a larger scale based mainly around tenure here on campus and the associated perks coupled with that. THat’s not to say we are more important, but time has been kind to us as it will be to you granted you take the proper steps.

    1. 0
      Danny says:

      Donny: As a proud member of the community of people named with the name D_NNY, I would like to respectfully request that you change your Daily Gazette name.

      My friends keep asking me if I liked Breakfast At Tiffany’s. I don’t.

      Thanks for taking one for the team.

  13. 0
    Thatcher ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is a classic example of far-leftists preaching tolerance yet browbeating anyone who stands in their path. People are trying to have an honest and open discussion (i.e. what do women at the college want, what does the law say? etc.)

    M.C.–your gender insights are appreciated, but not the end-all-be-all. If you want to get others on board, don’t be so quite abrasive. I, for one, start to overlook your arguments when I feel under attack. And the stereotypes you perpetuate about DU brothers, athletes, males, capitalists, white people, etc are ridiculous and cruel and fly in the face of everything you claim to be trying to achieve. I can’t believe you feel you can make those remarks and then receive a receptive audience. You’re an asset to this conversation, but so are the folks you seem to be sparring with.

    I have yet to discover this vast underbelly of Swarthmore bigots people keep referencing. Most people I know at this College are quite open and kind. We can talk about social and political nuances in a friendlier way. Let’s actually be tolerant here.

    1. 0
      Marian Firke says:

      I just wanted to put this out there…

      Just because you have not encountered these people does not mean that they do not exist. A huge part of how we perceive attitudes on this campus comes from our own identities.

      I don’t want to assume what your position is on this issue-man, woman, of color or not of color, straight, queer, trans*… because you could be any of those. That’s the whole point.

      But if you are not a member of a marginalized community, you are likely to be less aware of any bigotry or harm directed towards that community. Not because you are ignorant, or dumb, or actively want to oppress other Swatties… But simply because it is not being directed at you.

      Yes, I am aware of the fact that this (seems?) extremely obvious.

      But to be perfectly blunt, I am tired of cis-men telling me that there is no rape culture in our fraternities. (And, for that matter, of cis-women telling me that there is no rape culture in our fraternities, just because “well, I haven’t seen it.”)

      Just because you have never experienced these aspects of Swarthmore culture does not make these experiences any less real. I’m frustrated that people are consistently responding to these critiques with anger, or a sentiment along the lines of, “Why does everyone hate frats/athletes/[insert marginalized-feeling group here]?” Rather, consider what we have to say. These are our experiences, for better or for worse. Perhaps you have contributed to them; perhaps you have not. But until you confront them as a reality, you will only help them to continue.

      This comment might seem a bit off-topic on this particular article, as I am talking specifically about a cis-woman’s perspective rather than any trans* perspective. But that’s because that’s what I know and can talk about with authority.

      Many of you who know me will know that I do not frequent the frats any more, and may ask why I feel like I can make this critique. I stopped going because I stopped feeling safe. If you are interested in talking to me about why this is, I would love to have an email conversation or a sharples meal with you and talk about it. You want to talk about the “real world”? How about talking to me in person?

      While we don’t want to believe that this is what our culture is like, it is–for now. We can change it if we really talk about it and think about what we as a community–frats, athletes, SoAn and GenSex majors, and us bio nerds too, for that matter!–can do to combat it.

      But please don’t try to shout down the truth simply because you can’t see it yet.

    2. 0
      xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

      No, Thatcher, there aren’t a lot of bigots on campus, just like there aren’t a lot of racists, sexists, homophobes, classists, trans*phobes, etc. Soooo 1) People can say things that are bigoted without having others identify either those things as those traits, or the person who says them as bigots. That said, those things that person said are still f***ed up. This leads us to 2) (this is a big one) Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. (and, yes, bigotry) can and do exist without racists, sexists, homophobes, etc. (or bigots.) These are much deeper, historical systems of oppression so deeply entrenched in everyday expression (verbal, non-verbal communication, interactions with institutions and individuals, and SO much more) that they play out in even the most liberal, even radical of spaces, including Swarthmore. The fact that people don’t regularly spew hate-speech doesn’t mean that oppression doesn’t exist and have very real consequences in real peoples’ lives.

      1. 0
        Kristen '12 says:

        Glad you made this point. We’re a community full of people with good intentions, but that doesn’t mean using the right language, systems of thought, categorizations, etc. comes naturally. I’ve been here for three years and it hasn’t magically cured me of all disrespectful or uninformed speech. I used intolerant language at dinner the other day about a particular socioeconomic group in Scotland (where I spent my spring semester), and a friend called me out on it, in a way that no one I knew last semester would have thought to do.

        Even if we’re entirely well-intentioned we have to keep *thinking* about what norms our language use perpetuates! Questioning the words is not the same as attacking the speaker. Just like questioning the structure of some student groups (fraternities, athletic teams) is not meant to attack individual members of those groups.

      2. 0
        Thatcher ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        Ok, I understand people need to resist racism and stereotypes in general, but describing who people are and how they think based on “nonverbal” and “entrenched” institutional expressions begins to look like a fancy and abstract way of silencing those who disagree. If a DU brother has just been smeared as a dumb jock and a racist and tries to articulately counteract the claim, it seems underhanded to dismiss him on the grounds that he’s a bigot and he doesn’t even know it. Interestingly, the LBGT opinions here haven’t been thrown under the bus on the grounds that they are subliminally offensive. You can argue that LBGT folks aren’t coming from a historical place of power, but then shouldn’t that historical struggle make them understand the danger of suppressing others’ expression all the more? Yeah, ideas and attitudes take different forms and are complex. But come on.

        If you don’t’ like greek life, make your case. If you do, go for it. Leave the hermeneutics for class tomorrow.

        1. 0
          xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

          Thathcer, I’d disagree with saying it’s a means of silencing. It’s just a much more complicated, and actually real way to look at how oppression plays out today, specifically in spaces where more overt examples of oppression aren’t always present. It’s not “targeting” any group or individual, actually the opposite. It’s saying that systems like racism are ever-present, even if they aren’t really manifested in racist comments or individuals. It wouldn’t be at all useful to dismiss or silence the DU brother in question, or to say that he can’t work beyond his racism. It’s saying that even the most radical of folks have serious work to do in terms of checking and addressing their own privilege. I, for example, feel more comfortable speaking up in certain setting (in groups, for example) for reasons that go well beyond my comprehension of the material (i.e, race, class, normative gender identity). I could be saying great things, but also silencing those in the room who don’t . It wouldn’t be at all productive to simply dismiss either myself or the DU brother (which isn’t to say dismissal doesn’t happen!). What would be useful in BOTH cases would be to recognize why each of these incidents are examples of racism and that they likely come from similar places, and then work *continuously* to address the root cause, not simply apologize for the incident and move on.

          I’m not really sure what the term subliminally offensive means, but I don’t quite buy the argument you’re making there. Not all people necessarily identify with the historical struggle associated with aspects of their identity, and probably shouldn’t be held accountable for it. Silencing should never happen, but I’m not sure that the “LBGT argument” your referencing has been silencing in this thread. This seems like a take on the “rights-argument-suppressing-the-right-to-free-speech,” which has already been adequately and rightfully criticized in this thread.

    3. 0
      MC says:

      If tolerant means rolling over to make cis d00ds comfy, I’m gonna take a pass on that.

      Especially when you use the tired “LEFTISTS PREACH OPENNESS BUT ARE ACTUALLY RESTRICTING MY FREE SPEECH :(” trope. I’m also sorry, but where am I reproducing stereotypes? Why are also stereotypes immediately invalid? Particularly about people with institutionalized power?

      If you look at how I respond to people, I don’t have the time or energy to baby Mr. G, who is making basically a bunch of claims on my personal experience which he doesn’t know. People like Liam, even when maybe straying somewhere ~controversial~, I’m more than happy to step back and try to talk to.

      If you have some points you’d like to add, gender-related or not, please feel free! I’m more than happy to talk over multiple angles of this issue with y’all, and my conversations with friends have definitely moved beyond the gender problems of Greek life.

      1. 0
        MC says:

        It was “cis d zero zero d s.”

        Also, I’d say we all have the right to be equally comfy.

        The problem is, For Real, y’all are hogging the pillows. I’ve asked for them nicely. I spent a good fifteen minutes explaining my neck really hurts in the morning without the pillows and then I don’t work as well … you dutch-oven’d me and rolled over.

        So, unfortunately, I now need to yank the pillows out from under you because I gotta get some sleep. And that makes you less comfy, doesn’t it? It’s kinda annoying not to have those two luscious pillows propping up your over-sized head.

        How do you think it feels to have zero?

        Also, you can still gtfo re: your other comment about how sexual assault education is “pointless.”

  14. 0
    Wondering... says:

    This is somewhat tangential, but since a lot of this article argues against the Greek system because of its embrace of gender binaries, I thought it might be relevant. I’m wondering what your views are about groups that encourage identification within a racial/cultural group. Like gender/sexuality, race is something you are born with.
    Many of our school’s cultural groups are based upon identifying within a certain racial/cultural group, yet a large number of Americans are multi-racial or multicultural. So should we abolish such groups because they encourage racial…well obviously not binary, but I guess maybe… “rigidity”? If you were to argue that a multicultural/multiracial person could join more than one cultural group, then couldn’t you likewise argue that a non-gender-binary-conforming person could be a part of both female and male groups?
    Perhaps I’ll get pummeled (commentwise, hopefully not literally! :P) for asking this, but I think it’s a legitimate question: in what ways are race and gender identification different in this context?

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Hey, Wondering!

      So, I’ve got a couple things to say about trans issues re: racial issues:

      1. I don’t like to compare different kinds of identities, especially when they’re marginalized one. A lot of people (some WITHIN the queer community) like to play “GAY IS THE NEW BLACK” a lot. Each marginalization is different. It has a different history, a different way of functioning, different intersections with other identities … I get very uncomfortable trying to make straight (ho ho ho) analogies.

      2. I’m white, so it doesn’t matter what the fuck I think about what folks of color (multi or otherwise) *should* be doing with their identity. My job is to be as best in solidarity as possible and tell white people spewing racist junk to sit down.

      3. I will absolutely say I do not think we should abolish any group based on any marginalized identity.

      4. I think gender works very differently from race in this instance. For example, I’m neither a man nor a womyn, but I am masculine. I should not be taking up the resources of a female or womyn-centered space. Womyn are oppressed, and I think folks who have a masculine presentation /while not necessarily being men/ still have a responsibility to be thinking about whose space they’re taking up and how much of it and so on. This does not hold everywhere, all the time (trans men have complicated relationships to womyn’s spaces because men’s spaces can be very unsafe, I’d reckon), and it’s something I’m still thinking out, but that’s kinda where I’m reaching on it.

      So then I could bop over to a male or men-centered space … except then I’d be misgendered and potentially unsafe. I don’t really WANT to swing back and forth between men and womyn’s spaces.

      Now, some folks whose genders are actually fluid between man and womyn may feel differently, and they’re definitely entitled to it.

      But, no, I’d say not all non-binary folks can be a part of both because not all non-binary folks categorize themselves as “both.” Some feel that they’re “none,” or that they’re even off of this arbitrary line they’re drawing. It may be triggering to some to try to fit into the box of man and/or womyn.

      Does that make any sense?

  15. 0
    JS '12 says:

    Thanks, MC (+ Zack, as I’m in full agreement with you both), for this article. In my view, the decision to support Greek Life on our campus should hinge on the institutions, ideals, and histories that -Ities represent — not on the prospect of fashioning a ‘non-oppressive’, Swatified -Ity variant. Are Swarthmore students sufficiently progressive, mature, and inclusive to create an -Ity that rises above exclusionary traditions? Maybe. But the answer is irrelevant. Fact is, such traditions will continue to characterize -Ities across the country. And I have some serious qualms with supporting them, however indirectly.

    I chose to attend Swarthmore for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was its relative lack of Greek Life — something I saw as emblematic of a welcoming, progressive campus culture. The focus of this debate should be on broader associations and implications of expanding Greek Life at Swat — not on the hope of creating ‘superior’ -Ities on this campus.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Thank you for adopting the term -ity and -ities; it brings great joy to my cronish heart.

      Also, thank you for your comment about where the heart of this debate should be centered!

  16. 0
    Donny says:

    Oh, hey involved. Thanks for the constructive criticism. Allow me to retort.

    The article was discussing a space providing the possibility to have parties like the ones thrown at the frats or paces. Having assisted with the setup and cleanup of both a fraternity and paces, I must say that regardless of who is throwing the party, it is the upsetting reality that the campus community as well as almost anyone will be pretty liberal in their usage of a space they are not responsible for. Thats not to say said space will not host events not involving gratuitous amounts of alcohol in which the interior decor and what have you will be appreciated. No i’m not saying that someone will be running around with a lampshade on their head every thursday night but I am saying to give any given group a space that they can use for the sole purpose of throwing social events is throwing a space that will experience a lot of abuse, if not from it’s members, than from others. We do not control others actions, and as i’ve seen in my four years here, people are not as civilized or respectful as one would hope.

    Secondly, you completely misinterpreted my snark comment at the end there. Yes, it was snark, but no, you missed it. As a fervent member of the art community on campus, both through friends and a healthy appreciation, I have frequented Kitao and would do anything to PREVENT it from becoming a space used for parties and the like. It serves an invaluable purpose as the student exhibition space, and should remain as such.

    I do not want the WRC to become some kind of movie club, nor do I want it to become a party space. The beautiful facility which had been rescued and redone after it’s tenure as a fraternity lodge (the pictures of what it looked like are in the Friends Historical Library if you’re curious) is an invaluable a safe space for women and area of congregation for women of all types across campus. It serves a purpose as a dry space and should continue to do so.

    Sororities would provide the same sisterhood LaSS and other female groups offers but with the added factors of hazing(like it or not, nationally chartered Greek organizations to some degree, have initiation rituals), selection processes, and a membership fee (like it or not, nationally chartered Greek organizations to some degree, have initiation rituals.)

    I am neither one of those phobics, and to assume I was from my comment about the logistics of the college giving a group a house when other, established groups meet in sharples once a week is laughable.

    Also, Tramane, we pay for use of the land. I’ve discussed this multiple times with Workbox, which is why getting repairs for the house is like pulling teeth. We own the property, or at least this is what facilities has told us time and time again. The structure itself is ours

  17. 0
    Donny says:

    Considering both groups had to fund their own houses constructions, I would be skeptical as to whether either would be remotely open to such an idea based on the advantages of having the space. Anyone can support an idea, but to actually act is something completely different. I mean, I personally don’t think the institution of a sorority based on the motives provided is a very good idea and therefore, have no need to support anything, but i’m not representing all brothers on campus. If this was less about the space and more about the sisterhood or what have you, that’s fine, but i mean LaSS does that already except. . .without hazing or dues.

    And forgive my casually sexist remark, but i just dislike the motives i’m perceiving from all of this and felt like being snark. I liked Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

    I know sharing houses is probably difficult to tolerate but fraternities renting out spaces is not uncommon and not a bad option for what is desired. Also, I wasn’t being totally sarcastic with my lodge and kyle statements either. The Lodges were initially constructed as sorority lodges, and blocking there in coming years with members of your group could be an interesting alternative without all the labels of a sorority.

    1. 0
      Carmen says:

      Donny, that’s true, when you dislike something a woman says, it is always appropriate to be casually sexist to dismiss her frivolous womanly quibbbles. And then if she doesn’t get the message, you tell her to go make you a sandwich, am I right?
      Or am I not allowed to be “snark” since am I’m a woman? But oh wait how could I even accuse you of being sexist when you like Breakfast at Tiffany’s??? Your sexism is completely excused.

  18. 0
    MC says:

    Power differential, you’re still missing it.

    Also, y’all really got to stop assuming my experiences outside of Swat.

    If you want to open the athletics can of worms, I’m happy to do so.

    1. Soccer players were allowed to miss mandatory (and these are actually mandatory under Title IX Law) ASAP workshops to attend a scrimmage. Scrimmages are important; sexual assault education and prevention is more important. The Parrish administration made this decision without consulting Beth Kotarski or the coordinators of ASAP. We were subjected to incredibly rude emails from an athletics administrator when we said that would not be acceptable, as it has not been historically acceptable (although it’s always been a fight). That Parrish administration and athletics administration AND RAs were willing to back this suggests that a culture of athletics exceptionalism around sexual assault issues in particular is alive and well. With some fighting, we snagged most of them back in, but I’m sure there were players who ducked out.

    2. I’ve seen a general push, in my time as HTG in the Admissions office, to mainstream this campus, and a big part of that is putting more money and time and care into varsity athletics here (often at the expense of non-varsity athletics). This does not have to be bad or good necessarily — but see above and below.

    3. There are rumors that athletes have been let off the hook over sexual assault by order of the president. I say rumors because the administration has zero transparency on the CJC or post-CJC handling of sexual assault cases, and there is no way to know what actually happens. This ties into the rumor that the president can overturn CJC convictions and has, historically, to let assaulters off the hook. I’m not making an accusation here; this could be false. What’s disturbing to me is that nobody knows because the administration is absolutely silent on these issues.

    3.5. There are examples of this for sure; the DG is not the space to list them.

    4. There are also rumors about how certain varsity athletics teams are more predatory than the general population (and we have the same problems with assault that, for example, Penn State does, sooo).

    5. I really do believe in ten years or maybe more we’re gonna see a return of football, which is something I personally can live without.

    Satisfied?

    (PS: Now watch the shit really hit the fan.)

    (PPS: I don’t think our athletics culture is substantially different or worse than anywhere else — it might be better.)

    (PPPS: Hopefully our “real” worlds are different because mine includes basic respect for people. Yours does not, I don’t think, based on your opening paragraph.)

    1. 0
      Logistics says:

      Hey MC,

      As an athlete, I completely understand that missing a scrimmage could be unacceptable. When you join a team, you make a commitment to your teammates to always support them and work to improve. On the other hand, I ALSO AGREE that missing ASAP workshops is unacceptable, and in the scheme of things is probably unacceptable to a greater degree.

      Here’s the problem: the ASAP coordinators are busy, and have set times where they would like to run workshops. I understand. BUT, you have to realize that a scrimmage is not a unilateral decision – there are two teams playing, after all. So, logistically (hey! my name!), in the future I would suggest this: halls need to have their workshops, excluding athletes only if necessary. There should then be ASAP workshops for those people who missed them, and they should go AS A TEAM, during a time when there are no conflicts, to make sure that all first-years, regardless of athlete status, have this experience. And, as a bonus, what if there were two teams in each workshop — one men’s team and one women’s team?

      I think a simple fix like this could help lessen the gap between athletes and non-athletes, especially in terms of being seen as more “privileged.” Is there someone out there who knows what’s up who could comment on the feasibility of this?

      1. 0
        MC says:

        Hey, Logistics, thank you for your reply!

        This issue came up when we were wrangling with a certain athletics admin. Here’s the perspective from the other side (and maybe we can find some middle ground).

        We’re not asking halls to come together because we enjoy fucking up a scrimmage. We ask halls to come together because hallmates need to share space with one another and respect that space. A lot of assault here happens on halls, and a fair amount of it happens between hallmates. We really think it’s important everyone on the same hall sees each other and can hold each other accountable to that workshop and learns about this stuff together and deals with the hard and the scary and the painful parts together.

        I also think the difficulties of facilitating an ASAP to a team would be … astronomical.

      2. 0
        Quietly Queer says:

        Love it.
        Because orientation week is so densely packed, it might be a squeeze, but I think that having advance-notice schedule of the scrimmages might make this a possibility. Something to most definitely keep in mind for next year.

    2. 0
      Kenneson Chen says:

      For Real ’13, regarding your comments “As for the ASAP workshops … hey, if I’d had a way of getting out of those, I would have, too. Those and the diversity workshops, at least as of my freshman orientation, were totally pointless” and “all the ASAP workshop told me was ‘the world is scary, you are not safe, and you’ll probably get raped’ (oh wow, super helpful),” I would like to point out the usefulness of the ASAP workshops as both a survivor of sexual assault and a half white man.

      I had not been sexually assaulted before I came to Swarthmore – no -the sexual assault occurred on this campus, in these dorms, with a Swattie. The information provided during my ASAP workshop helped me approach and understand being a victim, the perspective of the perpetrator, and the process of healing when I was assaulted. The point of ASAP workshops is not to tell you that “the world is scary” or “you’ll probably get raped” – no – the purpose of the ASAP workshops is to tell you that rape is excused and supported by our culture and that it is never the victim’s fault – THAT means it’s someone else’s. (See where I’m going?) ASAP workshops serve the potential perpetrators of sexual assault just as much as they serve to inform potential victims.

      Seeing as everyone is a potential perpetrator and victim of sexual assault and it cannot be known who will become either of these, it makes sense to educate everyone about the issue. Trust me, we all know someone who has been sexually assaulted. But what I want to emphasize is that ASAP workshops address a cultural and educational failing.

      For many, ASAP workshops are the first time they’ve ever talked about rape as it involves them outside of literature, a joke, or history class. Does it not disturb you that boys (including me) are taught to esteem the physical and sexual consideration of women lower than that of men because they are women? This may not be the direct teaching of a parent to a child, but the lesson gains predominance in its pervasiveness throughout our culture. ASAP serves to inform those coming into our community that Swarthmore does not tolerate sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or assault in any way. If what you took from the workshop was that the world is a scary place and that you’ll probably get raped, then you missed the point – you’re still failing.

      The ASAP workshop that you attended might have sucked – we can’t always have the best teachers, but the lessons are all the same. I can think of nothing that was more uncomfortable (we’re Swatties, we should all know uncomfortable, right? Work? Socializing? Our fields of study? Athletic groin protectors?) and nothing that was more important in my entire orientation week than the ASAP workshop.

      I felt and have heard from other men that the ASAP workshops seem to attack men – that is not that case. ASAP workshops attack the notion inculcated in our culture that it is socially acceptable for people to take advantage of another without consent. Within those lines, sexual assault happens across many power differentials, sexual identities, and gender presentations – but one thing remains constant: our ability to teach people about consent and rape culture. Don’t reproduce rape culture in this community – it disgusts me.

      I see or hear of sexual assault and its supporting factors here at Swat every week and that disgusts me. I know that one cannot really change another’s opinion merely by talking to them, but I sincerely hope that the ASAP workshops give people the idea and impetus to reexamine the way they live their lives. I also hope people realize how much sexual, physical, and emotional abuse affect this community – another reason for ASAP and the Clothesline Project. How dare the administration turn a blind eye to such things, even hide the happenings of such incidences! No – I do not stand for any sexist, homophobic, trans-unaware, victim-blaming, or perpetrator-protecting system. I ask why Swarthmore does.

      -Kenneson Chen (Names are powerful. Use them.)

      1. 0
        Sara '12 says:

        Kenneson, I really appreciate you putting this story out there. This is not the easiest of subjects, but you clearly thought it was important to share, and so you did it.

    3. 0
      MC says:

      TO EVERYONE READING THIS COLUMN AT THIS POINT (and bless your hearts),

      For Real just demonstrated why some womyn feel unsafe in frats, why the administration hasn’t been forced into transparency, why some womyn feel unsafe at any party here, why I think ASAP are the most important workshops (sorry, Diversity, it’s not a dig!).

      IF YOU THINK EDUCATION ABOUT RAPE CULTURE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT IS “TOTALLY POINTLESS,” PLEASE GTFO THIS THREAD. AND THIS CAMPUS. BECAUSE YOU ARE HELPING TO REPRODUCE RAPE CULTURE.

      “ASAP is scary.”

      trigger warning for discussion of rape, rape culture

      YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT IS. It’s terrifying to me that 1/3 womyn are assaulted and 1/6 men are assaulted and numbers for queer and/or trans* people are higher, but those statistics aren’t available to us because of under-reporting. It’s terrifying to me how rape culture works differently across race and class lines — how Native American womyn are the most at risk group for rape by white men, usually, how historically black womyn were considered “unrapeable” (because they didn’t have the capability to consent). It’s scary to me when television shows valorize getting someone drunk and then bringing them home.

      IT’S SCARY TO ME

      THAT YOU JUST WROTE OFF ASAP AS POINTLESS.

      ASAP workshops have had problems, For Real. They have, around four years ago and back, been sex negative, kink negative, not very inclusive for marginalized groups of people and not gender neutral. ASAP continues to not be perfect.

      But it is not pointless. It is the only mandatory, full-class-year sit-down to talk about the issues of sexual assault and rape culture AS THEY ARE ON THIS CAMPUS.

      If you think they are pointless, I really am gonna be a condescending person for a minute and suggest you SERIOUSLY examine the way you engage with other people sexually. What is pointless about discussing active consent? What is pointless about discussing coercion? How does that not help you to assault someone? How is it pointless to try to reduce assault and rape culture?

      So, yep, I got nothing left to say to you that’s not a stream of fire exiting my reptilian mouth.

      (Also, lol @ another str8 person saying queer and trans* people aren’t oppressed at Swat.)

      1. 0
        Quietly Queer says:

        @ Alex ’12

        I definitely see your point about the rage and all of that (I have been known to foam at the mouth because of the DG on more than one occasion). I also totally see the point about swearing like a fucking sailor as a way to get your point across. There’s just a difference between “you’re not fucking listening” or “that misses the goddamn point” or whatever and “you…are…being an asshole”. It’s not productive and blah blah blah, but it’s also just not nice. Even if you were only making aspersions about the hypothetical online persona of For Real, there is a person behind the online.

        Obviously, OBVIOUSLY For Real’s comments were hurtful as well–insensitive and definitely on the Not side of nice. So I don’t want you to feel like I’m singling you out or anything, I wanted to ask you to fight what I (in my infinite power and wisdom) have deemed the good fight fairly.

        Believe you me, I share your rage, especially where rape apologists are concerned (actually I’m seething just reminiscing at the problematic history of rape apologism on the DG…..) I share your frustration and hurt and anger at the transphobic and disrespectful comment. Like, super I do.

    4. 0
      Alex '12 says:

      For Real ’13,
      I’m mostly responding to your lower comment, which the Gazette won’t let me do directly.
      There are times at which engaging with someone is helpful and fosters something better, and there are times when you have to call something for what it is.
      You, in the context of this thread, and specifically in this third comment, are straight up being an asshole. You are not helping this dialogue in any way, shape, or form.
      Guess what? There ARE a lot of shitty things about the world. One of them is the fact that the world has VERY HIGH incidences of rape. You know why ASAP was supposed to scare you? BECAUSE WHAT ASAP IS TALKING ABOUT IS FUCKING SCARY AND YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF IT.
      Clearly you have some, probably multiple kinds of privilege that you do not give a shit about trying to mitigate in your worldview. Clearly, the diversity workshop failed you in that respect.

      1. 0
        Alex '12 says:

        Quietly Queer, I really want to respond to these concerns about my response to For Real (I’m not sure where DG will drop this in the comment thread, so I want it to be clear what I’m referring to). They are valid and legitimate concerns, both for me and for other people reading the thread.
        I was in absolute, pretty much blind rage from For Real’s comments, not even necessarily directed at them, but directed at everything surrounding it. The fact that they thought such a comment was an okay thing to make. The fact that every single major discussion on the DG, no matter what the original focus of it is, seems to bring rape apologists out of the woodwork. I was so angry, my face was actually painfully burning. That was most likely a bit of an overreaction, but I’ve been dealing with related issues around the community for a while, and it just hit very close to home. And maybe I should have waited until I was out of that place before writing, but I’m not sure if it would have been possible for me to do that.

        At your first point, I know that it’s not productive to call people assholes. I was acknowledging that with the statement “There are times at which engaging with someone is helpful and fosters something better, and there are times when you have to call something for what it is.” This was actually brought up in a GenSex class recently, and the argument for calling someone out, possibly using profanity, is that when someone says something absolutely terrible in a context that suggests that they are uninterested in actual dialogue, by arguing with that viewpoint you legitimize it by making it something worth arguing with. I also specifically did not say that they were an asshole in their life. I said that in the context of the specific comments they made here, they are being an asshole. It is possible/probable that outside this thread, they are lovely, and having no information otherwise, I would never make that claim.

        You are right, that was a vast simplification of the ASAP workshop. I was not trying to imply that fear was the goal of the workshop and was really using the fear bit because they used it, but I see how that was read into it. You are absolutely right that fear is not one of ASAP’s goals, nor should it be, but we have to acknowledge that fear does play a part in most people’s experience. I remember from my workshop that it was the initial stage of most people’s processing of the workshop, especially those who hadn’t thought much about the issue or who hadn’t thought of themselves as vulnerable before. This fear really came about as a result of greater awareness. The goal, I think, and the way that the workshop is framed, is to help people move beyond that fear to something more productive, namely the questions you outline of How can I be a support? How can I make sure I don’t do this? And, yes, I think also, “How can I make sure that I don’t end up in one of these positions?”

        As for the third point, I will absolutely concede that you are right. That was absolutely terrible phrasing. I was responding to this statement of For Real’s
        “all the “diversity” workshops did was tell us to identify where we’re privileged and feel guilty about it. The whole “white/privilege-guilt” thing is truly one of the most eye-roll-worthy aspects of Swat culture, and it starts on day one.”
        and honestly I just didn’t do it well at all. I have some types of privilege, most specifically for this discussion, I’m white. I try to make sure that I’m not using that position of incidental power in my interactions to assert dominance or to make someone else feel like crap. In my own words, to be an asshole. I know many others work very hard to do the same, whether they have one privilege or many, because it is the right thing to do. And so to have someone else really say that they resent doing that, with I believe the real implication that they feel it’s unnecessary for them to do so, really, really rubbed me the wrong way. But you are right that my original wording 100% failed to convey that message. I should have said this critique, or a condensed version of it.

      2. 0
        Quietly Queer says:

        Alex, I have a real problem with this comment.

        First of all–I, too, felt a little squeamish about For Real’s comments (the whole “the real world isn’t fair and has oppression so why can’t you deal with oppressive systems at Swat?” thing is tired, insulting, and frustrating to hear), but I had a hard time with the way you addressed your (I imagine similar) concerns.

        -I don’t think it’s productive to call people assholes. That’s name-calling, and it really just belongs on the playground. I agree totally that those comments were insensitive, they made me, personally, as a queer person and as a survivor feel bad. But I don’t know this dude/ette* and I can’t say that ze is an asshole in a public forum and expect that to be okay. Because it’s not, it doesn’t lead to public discussion. So: I feel your pain, but, for serious, no name calling.

        -The second thing about your comment that troubled me was the capslock (or extended shift-key depression) emphasis of the “purpose” of ASAP. I know this discussion is a little bit tangential to the sorority conversation, but I really strongly feel that that’s, you know, NOT the point of ASAP. IN fact, as an ASAP workshop leader, I work REALLY HARD to make that NOT the focus of ASAP. ASAP is about “wow, sexual assault comes in a lot of forms and happens to a lot of different people. This is a reality at Swat. How can I support someone in need/myself? How can I work to prevent assaulting someone?” ASAP workshops are intended to introduce the idea of sexual assault as a valid and important topic of conversation at Swat, to challenge stereotypes about it (including the “you’ll get raped in college! don’t drink okay!”), and to establish Swat as a place that (ostensibly) does not tolerate rape. I’d actually be really interested in talking to Fo’ Real 13 about ways to improve the workshop.

        -The last thing that troubled me is actually what made me the most upset. You said “Clearly you have some, probably multiple kinds of privilege that you do not give a shit about trying to mitigate in your worldview”. I feel like, when phrased like that, you insinuate that people with privilege are inherently ignorant, inherently willfully ignorant, and have to do a lot of soul-searching before coming to any conversation. I say this as a queer black survivor woman. I know that there is a lot that’s said that makes me think “wow, that worldview is based a lot on your privilege. Think about that…” but there is a way to communicate that without creating an environment where white/straight/male/het etc. feel like they can’t chime in.

    5. 0
      C says:

      No matter one’s financial situation, race, gender identity, interests, etc., I have tremendous respect for anyone who attends Swat – they obviously worked their ass off to get into the school. As an athlete, I am asking that you share a similar respect for myself and my fellow athletes. Granted, there are athletes that have been charged with sexual abuse, but that does not mean we are all out to hurt or force ourselves onto others. I’m positive there have been cases of non-athletes sexually assaulting others, but we do not need to stereotype all individuals associated with the culprit’s extra curriculars with such inappropriate activities. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe many of the issues stated above fall on the administration, not athletes in general. They are the ones who allowed athletes to miss ASAP and they have let individuals off the hook. If I were to meet an athlete who had committed sexual assault, I would be appalled that they had been allowed to walk away without repercussions.
      Basically, I am just asking for you to get to know athletes on a personal level before stereotyping them in such a way. I apologize if I’ve missed the points of your posts, but as a freshmen athlete and fraternity pledge, I’m disappointed to have joined a community that has judged me on these two bases before getting to know me as a person. I was under the impression that Swat was a very welcoming environment, although I have only seen backlash towards athletes and frats in many of the articles. I know this wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t deserved, but I feel that these arguments and accusations are preventing us from reaching a solution.

      1. 0
        V says:

        C-

        You sound like an excellent person, and I hope you find that, like “um” has said, you aren’t being judged individually at all.

        Cheers to you! Please continue contributing to this thread.

      2. 0
        um says:

        Thank you for your thoughtful and touching comment! I just wanted to point out that I don’t think you’re being judged individually AT ALL. Rather, it is the institutions and institutionalization of privilege that are being judged. Critiquing a dominant and harmful system, or parts of one, does not necessarily–and certainly does not here–entail criticizing the individuals involved in that system.

        May I recommend that you take an anthropology or social theory course that reads Foucault or the like? Seems like you’re the kind of person who would both really enjoy it (you sound super smart) and possibly have your worldview changed by it (I know mine has been)…and hopefully THAT is the kind of environment you were looking for by coming to Swarthmore.

    6. 0
      Holly says:

      I know that the ASAP/diversity workshops were REALLY important, eye-opening, and essential for settling in at Swat for several students that I’ve worked with, so please don’t make assumptions about the ‘majority of society’ or ‘the freshmen experience’ as a whole based on your own experience. However, since you did have a bad experience, that still sucks. Do you have any advice for making them better?

      1. 0
        formerasapworkshopfacilitator '11 says:

        i’m shocked that for real’s take away from an asap workshop could be so unreflective.

        for someone whose username condescendingly directs everyone to consider the “real world,” you seem perfectly and smugly satisfied with pulling the wool over your eyes to the facts and realities of sexual assault and rape.

    7. 0
      MC says:

      CORRECTION!

      I was reminded by V.T. (don’t wanna give your name out, if you don’t want it out!) that the RAs were not monolithically supportive of some of their halls skipping the workshop. We definitely had a fair number of RAs reach out to us in support and really work to make sure every first-year was there. I can tell you that the coordinators and the workshop as a whole was touched by the gravity many RAs took ASAP with, and I was really amazed at the help and interest RAs whose halls I personally facilitated showed.

  19. 0
    Donny says:

    I think with the entire underlying theme of this sorority push being about another wet venue, it should be noted the college does not own either fraternity lodge, and to give a sorority or any kind of student group a space to trash would be pretty impractical. Phi Psi and DU receive no support apart from very basic repairs to the exterior of the house (a reason they look so shoddy) and pay a hefty rent fee each semester (more than 7k I am told.) No one is going to give up the WRC or Kitao, two valued campus spaces so you can have wine and cheese nights and watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I see value in everyones arguments, especially the last comment about the trans community straying away from the fraternities rather then us putting them off directly. I am all for establishing any kind of group as long as it does not openly reject another out of hostility towards someones personal preferences or identifications, but if this motive is for a space alone, go block in Kyle or a lodge and spare us.

    1. 0
      involved says:

      Donny – your argument is so problematic it almost does not merit a response. But I will point out your two biggest flaws anyway, and let them speak mostly for themselves:

      “I think with the entire underlying theme of this sorority push being about another wet venue…and to give a sorority or any kind of student group a space to trash would be pretty impractical.”

      Really? Spaces that are wet are spaces that are trashed? I once consumed a serving of alcohol in a social space. I did not throw up, nor did I overturn a table. You must live in a very alcoholic, inconsiderate hole.

      “No one is going to give up the WRC or Kitao, two valued campus spaces so you can have wine and cheese nights and watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

      Are you saying that Kitao is predominately used as a space for wine and cheese parties, thus disregarding its role as a student gallery, and simultaneously assuming that every womyn who uses the beautiful facilities in WRC cares about nothing but Hepburn movie marathons? Or are you saying that a sorority would so generously provide those services for campus? Either way, I am appalled.

      The misinformed, misogynistic, transphobic, queer-phobic, womyn-phobic, other-phobic foundation on which you based your argument is, to be frank, absolutely appalling.

      1. 0
        Hoover Long '12 says:

        …I don’t think you can be considered a real sorority unless you have wine and cheese parties and watch breakfast at tiffany’s. If you’re going to respond about Greek life stereotypes, at least understand them first.

    2. 0
      MC says:

      Holy hell, 7k? Thanks for giving me some info about how Greek life works here, especially around why the buildings are the way they are and whose they are. o__O

      I also appreciate you pointing out that a lot of this has to be about another party space. I keep seeing the argument that we need more womyn-controlled party spaces on campus, but I have yet to see a vision of what that would look like. I think it’s actually an intriguing idea. Unfortunately, another commenter somewhere said that sororities have to be dry spaces under PA law … whoops.

      I’m not sure how I feel about your evaluation of sororities as wine and cheese nights and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (I mean, I do know; it’s a little casually sexist in its dismissiveness).

      However, thanks for the thoughts and valuable info.

      Do you think it’s completely impossible that DU/Phi Psi might be willing to give up one of their houses? I just ask because DU (correct me if I’m wrong) signed on in support of sororities … could that kind of thing maybe happen?

      1. 0
        Charles Evans Hughes says:

        Are you serious? Delta Upsilon will give up our house over my (long) dead body. You clearly don’t understand what a fraternity is if you think it’s a matter of space. That house has stood for brotherhood, and the four founding principles of Delta Upsilon since 1926. The fireplace on the main floor is a gorgeous work of art in its own right and considered a treasure of the greater body of Delta Upsilon, from amongst the 80 international chapters. Over the last 85 years, brothers have donated decorations, furniture, fixtures and their time to building the house into the recognisable symbol of Delta Upsilon at Swarthmore that it is. I think it’s symptomatic of the fact that you think we just get together and drink every week that you don’t understand that there’s more to a fraternity than that. I don’t know if you’ve ever bothered viiting us, but please feel free to drop by the house sometime, any one of us would be happy to give you a little tour so that you can appreciate the history of the house. Graffiti Party November 19th too, if you’re interested.

        1. 0
          MC says:

          Eeps, I was just curious. A lot of people have been bringing up where the space for a sorority would come from, and since the frats seemed enthusiastic, I didn’t know if there’d be a willingness to share … I guess my frame of reference is off because even though SQU has a nice private room, many groups share the big room, where most of the talking is done.

          I might take you up on the tour offer. I haven’t ever seen DU with the lights on, and I’d love to hear about the history of the house.

          1. 0
            MC says:

            Hey, Rakan, I have to respond up here because this site is made of Satan and Fried Shit Bar (jk, 110% Team DG except for when the nesting gets messed).

            Thank you.

            Well, first thanks really needs to go to the awesome womyn on your hall, I think, but thank you too, for posting this comment.

            I appreciate you reaching out, as a Phi Psi brother, to ask what can be done. I’m not the only person who has thoughts (just a fecking loud one), I definitely know. What might be the most awesome, and something I’m sure multiple groups are already talking about, is having a sit-down with all concerned parties (fraternities, LaSS, op/ed authors, anyone from campus). I don’t know if you were around last year in the fall, but a similar sort of thing happened after the Poster Incident. Maybe all of us could meet somewhere on neutral ground and talk to each other, face to face (anon off) and work towards solutions or the beginnings of them, particularly re: unsafe spaces.

            What I was telling people last night and today was that if the most we get out of these op/eds is finally an explicit discussion of the party culture here (re: rape culture, re: drinking culture), I’d be … I’m not gonna say totally satisfied because I do have feelings about Greek life, but I’d feel like something important got done for this campus as it is now and everyone who might come to it in the following years. And, for the record, I hope the conversation about it doesn’t stop just at the frat v. sorority v. neither v. crabby crab railing on the DG (me; I actually asked Kat if my bio could read “crabby crab”) … everyone at this school is accountable to each other in this way: anyone of any gender, any sexuality, any race, any class year, any level of athletic participation (including no participation).

            Lastly, the more I hear about the fraternities and their histories, the more I realize I don’t know. I’ve learned your lodge is called the House of Elron, that y’all pay a shit ton of money every year to keep them, that there’s a sick rug in DU, that DU is super generous about paying off dues, that class in frats here is a more complicated question that just CLASS-PRIVILEGED ARE FRATS — and, for sure, that at least a healthy chunk of DU and Phi Psi brothers are willing to talk with me, regardless of first reactions from all parties.

            So, the long and short of this one is

            I hope we all — we all being any concerned party — can sit down and have a serious face-to-face convo about some of the issues in play. And I also hope you’ll ask your brothers if Phi Psi will join in with DU in working on the CLP this spring and the springs to come. The invitation is still open.

            (Also, your teminology was basically pitch perfect — you can smush “trans” and “phobia” together, like homophobia, whereas when talking about people you keep a space between “trans” and “womyn,” for example … unless someone specifically tells you not to keep a space for them.)

          2. 0
            Vienna says:

            Rakan-

            No one wants to hear what you have to say.*

            Just kidding. So glad that the sleeplessness came to something. So proud of you <3

            *There, I've said it. Happy now? The world is going to hate me.

          3. 0
            Rakan '12 says:

            MC,

            I realize I’m incredibly late, but I just wanted to contribute something to the conversation. To be perfectly honest, I had never even considered the possibility of “cisgender comfort” or “privilege” or any of the terminology being used, and originally read all of these comments with an immense amount of frustration. It was only after talking to some wonderful womyn on my hall who explained a lot of the terms that suddenly things began to make sense (such as womyn spelled with a “y”…it’s been almost four years and I had no idea why it was spelled like that until last night).

            I am a member of Phi Psi and a non-athlete (anything over 5 minutes on the treadmill inspires feelings of dread and discomfort), and none of these terms really meant anything to me until reading your piece. My aforesaid frustration came from never considering anything other than my own life, and after taking the time to research a lot of what you said, I had a bit of an identity crisis. Reading people’s comments about the discomfort and relative lack of safety they feel being at the fraternities was of particular concern, as well as trans phobia, which it pains me to say I had never actually heard of before.

            With that said, I can see your issues with the Greek system and they are completely understandable and have far more merit than anything I could say in their defense, but for the time being, I don’t think the fraternities are going anywhere just yet. Whether they do or they don’t, all I can ask is: what would you like us to do as fraternity members to make our spaces more comfortable? More accepting? More educated? I ask this because I remember coming in as a freshman…maybe a little obnoxious, definitely naive, and very uneducated about this subject (not much has changed on any front), and to be honest, I would like to change that. Not just for me, but for everyone who comes through the Greek system at Swarthmore.

            And then finally, I know a lot of people are trashing the idea of a fraternity and the culture it exemplifies, but selfishly, it has been monumentally important for me in my time here. As a student with a crippling disability, I have found such an incomparable support network in Phi Psi who have had my back through thick and thin. There are some truly incredible people there, as well as in DU, and that is (un)fortunately what makes the college experience for some of us here, though I do see the inequality in the system now.

            If the object of your piece was to inspire reflection and action, then I’m happy to say you succeeded and I want to provide as much support as I can, and I hope I can say the same for Phi Psi as a whole.

            (I apologize if I offended anyone or sounded insensitive at any point…I’m still a greenhorn when it comes to the terminology)

  20. 0
    Sara '12 says:

    So, as to that first question, I am wondering what its purpose is?

    If it’s just genuine curiosity, a conversational attempt to engage with someone personally, then that seems like an oddly adversarial way to put it.

    Which leads me to believe that it’s part of making the argument that because people are less accepting “out there”, that we should either be happy with what it’s like here or that it’s not worth it to address issues here, because “out there” sucks no matter what.

    That is both an unproductive way to think and kind of irrelevant: the fact that Swat is better (is it always?) doesn’t negate the fact that there can be negative experiences here and that we should work to deal with the situations that create them.

    Furthermore, being respectful and open to other people’s experience is not tantamount to be taught to walk on eggshells. All it takes is some common sense consideration.

  21. 0
    Just a thought says:

    As a member of one of the houses, we’ve actually never had a trans student attempt to rush, so this isn’t something that we’ve ever had to really deal with here at Swat. Yes, you could argue that the Greek institution itself is what drives them away, but that’s their personal choice to forgo making the attempt. I would imagine that a trans individual would be welcomed and treated no differently than anyone else who wants to become a member of my particular organization. I don’t see how it’s fair to knock the fraternities here as being inherently transphobic when in fact we’ve never engaged in behavior that can be seen as such. It becomes more a question of the individual’s own fears and misconceptions of Greek life here on campus or whether or not the actual behavior of the institutions themselves, are transphobic. I think it’s more of the former.

    It’s also important to point out here that Phi Psi lost their national charter because they pledged a Black student and a Jewish student, to which their national body disapproved. When given the chance to regain that charter, they sought to forgo it because they didn’t espouse the racist and exclusive nature of their national body. So before we go on labeling our groups here as transphobic, exclusive, etc. remember that we have actually never been given the chance to show just what our Greek organizations here are all about in regards to this particular issue of gender expression. I would like to think that the members of my community have a bit more faith in their peers than that.

    And a final note, DU is arguably one of the most diverse student groups on campus in every sense of the word. Despite our rush and pledging process, we have maintained a brotherhood that encompasses a plethora of races, religions, nationalities, political ideologies, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, heights, weights, athletes, non-athletes, etc. Yes, we all identify as guys, but that’s not to say that a trans student who identified as a guy couldn’t become a member of DU, we’ve just never had a trans student take the step to join the fraternity, and I firmly believe that is a personal choice on that individual’s part more so than it is a result of the nature of the Greek organizations here on campus.

    1. 0
      just curious... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Good for the frats for being so diverse and inclusive. So why not just totally drop gender exclusivity and let in women as well?

    2. 0
      MC says:

      I’m actually glad that you left a comment and gave a perspective on DU / fraternity life here. Thanks for joining the discussion!

      My one quibble is that I’m not saying DU is trans*phobic in my article — I’m saying the Greek sysetm is trans*phobic in its formulation that there are only two genders (and, nationally, it is in fact trans*phobic on the practical level).

      Another thing you said that I really get nervous around is trans people might be foregoing the choice to join DU or Phi Psi because of bad perceptions and not the actual workings of the frats. Then maybe the frats should be doing the out-reach? People who are used to getting shit on aren’t going to step into a place that’s typically under a toilet, you know? If DU/Phi Psi are committed to trans* inclusivity, step up to the plate. You could co-sponsor stuff with the queer/trans* conference, make it very explicit that you’re happy to have any male-identified people, consider if your spaces are safe for potential trans* brothers (which might mean asking trans men if your spaces are safe and why not, if not).

      I’m happy to hear DU is committed to inclusivity, though.

      1. 0
        Tramane Hall says:

        I left you a reply earlier in the thread, basically calling for discussion on how DU can be a force for change here on campus regarding this particular issue.

        However, I do know that in my time here, DU has always hosted one of the SAGER venues before it was moved to Sharples and I know that there was a desire to be involved more with the SAGER symposium. Yet our efforts have been rebuffed and met with hostility from the symposium committee in the past. Not to co-opt your toilet analogy, but you know, we have tried and have been lumped in with other Greek organizations, despite our best efforts.

        I fully believe that my brotherhood would welcome any dialogue that would help to make our space as inclusive and safe as possible for the larger community.

        Also I would like to point out, that our rent is being paid to the School, so the school actually does own the houses and at any point can essentially kick us out.

        1. 0
          MC says:

          As I did not know that the WRC had rebuffed LaSS, I had no idea the QTC met y’all with hostility. o__O Thank you for letting me know that!

          I think a lot of discussion has to be had by multiple parties, with all the stuff I’m learning, but I think having those conversations with DU (and anyone else) about trans inclusivity would be a powerful step forward. I think your openness in this thread is also a really great step forward.

          Feel free to email me if you want to talk about ways of having those conversations: I can’t speak for everyone, but I might be able to round up some folks who have thoughts.

          1. 0
            skeptical says:

            If someone is still calling the party and the symposium Sager, I really question their commitment to ally themselves with either since it’s pretty clear they haven’t made ANY effort to acknowledge the variety of reasons for both being renamed, changes that were made 3 years ago and 2 years ago, respectively.

            I would agree that DU has in the past made genuine efforts to consider inclusivity and party safety (ex: 09 fireside chats) so… really w/e

    3. 0
      V says:

      Thank you for your comments. It’s really nice to hear about your experiences in the frats here! I forgot that I had heard that particular tidbit of Phi Psi history, and I’m quite glad of it.

      Props to the frats for the things that you’re doing well!

  22. 0
    Liam Epstein says:

    I feel excluded from this conversation because of a lack of knowledge of gender terms…Can’t we dumb it down for the simpleton over here? Sheesh talk about being exclusive…

      1. 0
        Liam Epstein says:

        Thanks! I appreciate it, I didn’t mean I don’t understand the terms, just don’t really see how they benefit the discussion other than excluding a portion of the populace from being a part of it (obviously not an intentional thing). I just feel like this need to be more open to the persona who knows nada about stats, laws, and gender vocab…other than that props yo!

        1. 0
          MC says:

          Okay, I’m replying to your last comment here because I can’t below. ;___;

          No problem! I didn’t know how you were coming at it, and you don’t have to feel silly for expressing ideas, for real. I know I seem like a cantankerous hard-shelled crab in the first couple of comments, but I respond with respect to statements that have respect.

          I think EVERYONE at Swarthmore has a stake in this discussion, regardless of how much they think about gender or don’t. A sorority would be a really big change for this campus. It would open up a new building and change the way Greek life currently works here. I really do think everyone has valuable things to say, for or against, and I’m glad to be talking with you.

          In my first draft of this article, I explicitly said 300 words isn’t enough to grasp nuances of this issue. Greek life has some amazingly positive stuff bundled into it: the sibling system, a community, volunteering in the community. I just think we can get all those things without some of the ick by ditching the Greek system and making our own.

          I hope this helps, and I hope you share your thoughts, even if they’re not gender-centered!

        2. 0
          MC says:

          I’m replying up here because I can’t down there.

          So, at first I thought you wanted help? If you still need some definitions, please tell me what words or ideas are new to ya, and I’ll give you a holler.

          I actually don’t think there’s hella confusing terminology at play, maybe confusing ideas. Trans* covers everyone who is not cis. Cisgender means that you were assigned a gender identity at birth that you actually identify as; trans* means you do not identify as the gender you were assigned at birth. Trans* includes transgender people who identify as men or womyn, as well as people who do not identify as a man or a womyn.

          Please let me know what concepts are foreign, and I’ll do my best to parse them.

          Re: terminology —

          Unfortunately, 300 words is not a lot of time to do a basic trans* 101. Like Sara said, you can use Google all on your own to cover some words: I don’t think trans* people are obligated to drop everything and chime into educate cis folks. I tried to stick to trans* and cis because they’re easily Google-fu’d and common enough on this campus.

          My grasp of gender comes about because you could label me trans* (I identify as neither man nor womyn). For me, these terms are vital and a part of my everyday life. I think you could examine why you immediately want to de-center these words and make it “more inclusive” (read, more comfortable for cis people).

          That being said, I want people to feel able to comment and even to fuck up. There’s a difference (for me, not for everyone, but for me) between trying out an idea and being wrong and the kind of kneejerk criticism Mr. G and so on provide. I make plenty of mistakes, too.

          So, I really object to the idea that this discussion isn’t “candid” because some fairly common words around gender are being used. I can understand feeling intimidated or out of water with some of the conceptual ideas happening, and I’m glad — in the comments — to break stuff down for anyone who needs it.

          1. 0
            Liam Epstein says:

            Hey spot on in my book, I just really wasn’t looking at it from that perspective. Sorta random but, if I personally don’t view gender as being very important to me, do I still have a place in this discussion?
            And my b didn’t mean to take a jab at the candid nature of the discussion, I must be really off my game in the expression department these days haha, I guess what i kinda mean is that it appears to be more a “Gender studies” oriented discussion than a non-oriented discussion and I dont know anything about gender studies, but I’d like to be a part of it. It is just a bit more difficult to do for myself which may be unique to me. Anyways, sorry if this has come off wrong or something,but I was saying in all seriousness you are dealing with a simpleton here. I just had a silly idea pop into my head a i guess, i thought maybe a less classroom sounding discussion may be better suited for this topic

        3. 0
          Sara '12 says:

          I appreciate that unknown terminology can make accessing a discussion confusing.

          And I think that it’s important to be aware of that and define anything that seems particularly opaque.

          However, both Alex and MC have stated that they’re perfectly happy to discuss terms with anyone that has any questions, and I’d like to also extend that offer.

          To anyone who wants a quicker response than waiting for someone to notice your question on the DG, a quick internet search usually yields useful information, if you read what you find critically.

          Given the help people are ready and willing to offer and the other resources available, I don’t think it’s fair to say that simply using acceptable, respectful terminology (which is definitely useful for several reasons, one of the biggest being inclusion) necessarily excludes anyone.

          1. 0
            Liam Epstein says:

            No but it does make some people uncomfortable or feel as if they cannot speak on it confidently. I also don’t think its fair for you to say what is fair and I am fairly certainly without a cursory glance claiming that I never said anything about fairness. Not about fairness. Also not questioning the respectability (whatever that means) of the terminology. And I also was just presenting a suggestion, not making a critical judgement on anything…you know people can just make a statement and that be it, just something i personally noticed, it wasn’t meant to be anything more than that. I guess I can take a second crack at expressing myself cause clearly we didn’t synch up the first time. Just was trying to say I don’t think anyones (No offense MC or Sarah i envy your knowledge) grasp of gender vocab adds anything to the discussion, but it certainly makes me and who knows maybe others intimidated to take part in it. My point being, I think this conversation can definitely be more candid and maybe what I am suggesting this would help in achieving that..or maybe it wouldn’t idk

    1. 0
      Alex '12 says:

      Liam,
      Sorry. Often once we learn terminology, we forget that it’s not necessarily in everyone’s vocabulary. What terms do you particularly not understand? I’m sure some of us would be 100% willing to help.

      1. 0
        Liam Epstein says:

        Hmm, more of it is a question of whether it is possible to have a discussion without that terminology. Can this dialogue exist without it…cause if it could i think it may be beneficial, but then again what do I know (simpleton here)

        1. 0
          Alex '12 says:

          I haven’t been an active part of this discussion before now, though I have become strangely invested from the outside, but I think the answer to your query depends highly on what terminology you are talking about and how you would want to move around it.

          If you want to include definitions along with terms that may not be common knowledge, that might go a while to leveling the playing field for greater understanding for all readers. Again, I’d point to my above comment that we just forget, but should be conscious of it in the future. It’s certainly something I’ve accidentally had issues with in the past.

          If you are suggesting that we should find alternatives to the correct terms because some people reading might not know them, I think that’s more of an issue. That sounds condescending to me (as if the people writing said comments don’t expect people who read it to be able to learn new terms, or for anyone else to know them at all), and the correct terms tend to actually be correct for a reason. There are terms like “transphobia” and its derivatives and “cis” that have become central to certain strains of this discussion, and I think they should be able to use such terms. And having to work around them can be really difficult. “Dislike or fear of people who do not identify their dender with the biological sex that they were born with” is so much more cumbersome than “transphobia.”

          1. 0
            Liam Epstein says:

            No no no i’m definitely not meant to be taken with so much gravitas, or analyzed with so much intricacy. I’m saying I’m all for discussion, dialogue, and so forth and let’s make as real, candid, honest as possible. Sometimes emotions and intentions can get lost in vocabulary that everyone doesn’t fully grasp. I feel like I just want to hear what people fell, and it takes away from it a bit. Once again, I guess i wasn’t thinking when i first wrote it, this is not meant to be contentious, and i would really prefer it not become that in it takes away from what this space is supposed to be for.And I totally agree those terms are how you put it, correct or at least consensus tells us they are correct, but I don’t really think they help elucidate what people feel at all. Once again this is one person’s musings, but I just think this talk doesn’t need to be dragged down by terminology (from any side of the argument) or maybe to put it with as little negativity as possible, transcends the exact the terms it has created. Thats all, I’m not trying to make any remarks about society or passive aggressively make judgements on someone.

  23. 0
    Diversity says:

    Im sorry I haven’t read all of the responses to this article, however one point was missing from the article itself. You assume that all fraternity brothers here are straight males. There are members of the queer community in BOTH fraternities. You say they are exclusive. you say they pontificate this straight agenda, but this is ignorant.

    1. 0
      V says:

      I’m not certain that “But some brothers are queer!” addresses the issue at hand here, to be honest. It’s certainly admirable that the fraternities have moved away from unilaterally excluding members of the queer community. (I’m not even going to get into tokenism, since I don’t think that’s what is actually going on here.)

      However, having queer brothers doesn’t at all address the institutional problems with fraternities (see: power dynamics, privilege, racism, classism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia). Exclusivity can be determined by any of a selection of factors. It’s great that sexuality is no longer a bar to admission, but what about the other issues?

      I also don’t think that MC assumes that all brothers are straight, but rather that the culture is one that is intended for persons of privilege, which historically includes straight white males of a certain wealth, etc.

      Incidentally, do you have any evidence that the brothers aren’t all males? I have seen no evidence that the frats welcome male-identified trans*folk. I don’t mean as individuals. As I’ve said before, I know a fair number of brothers who are great people, but as an institution, I think Greek life leaves something to be desired.

    2. 0
      rando says:

      I’m not sure it’s fair to compare the experience of queer cis-men in frats to that of queer cis-women in sororities, particularly with respect to how the different groups tend to treat issues of personal appearance. However, I think a bigger question here is the manner in which women (queer and straight alike) feel they are treated when they are in the frats.

      Perhaps our desire for sororities is not so much an expression of the desire to exclude non-conforming women, but rather for a less chauvinistic party environment. Perhaps the problem isn’t the “straight” dynamic of greek life at all, but rather its tendency towards exploitation and non-consent in general.

      1. 0
        MC says:

        THANK YOU.

        I very much wish people would be more explicit about party safety here (which I opened up a little bit below, ahahaha … *turns pale*).

        It was alluded to in the Phoenix article by the unfortunate spokesperson, and I keep seeing enraged sentiments from self-identified brothers of, “YOU’RE BASING THIS ALL ON STEREOTYPES,” but I think a larger truth is that there may be deeper issues with safety at parties here (particularly frat parties?) that keep bubbling to the surface and getting quickly shushed.

    3. 0
      David B Shoup says:

      I’m becoming really disappointed by the assumptions being made here by people, about fraternities and their members. You have to understand that the houses here at Swarthmore are not the same as those at other schools across the country. Delta Upsilon is a very diverse group of men, of a variety of sexual orientations, ethnic and racial backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, and quite frankly I’m getting sick of having the assumption that I’m just some uninteresting, generic white straight male because I’m in a fraternity thrown at me, it’s kind of pathetic, and disrespectful to those brothers of both fraternities (and there are lots of them) who don’t fall into the category that you think they should.

      1. 0
        um says:

        the author makes no assuptions about INDIVIDUALS, a point which is made very clear by the article. the author does, however,take issue with the historical and ideology that greek life is necessarily grounded in by virtue of its being greek life. These are not the same.

    4. 0
      MC says:

      I’m really tackling the question of the cis agenda here, which is not the same as the str8 agenda. I could be wrong, but I know of no trans* members in either DU or Phi Psi.

      And, again, I’m talking about an Institution which advances both (and more). If we wanted to have a conversation about what fraternities at Swat do well and do poorly, it’d be a different convo (although it’s the one multiple commenters keep trying to read out of my article).

      1. 0
        Tramane Hall says:

        MC,
        I definitely agree with your sentiments regarding Greek Life as a whole. But as Rush Coordinator for DU this semester, I can assure you that we in fact had no trans students attempt to join DU.

        I can also assure you that had their been one, I would have done my damndest to ensure that individual received the same consideration as anyone else who identified as “male” that wanted to become a member, otherwise I would have resigned immediately.

        I just don’t think it’s fair to count the lack of a trans presence in the Greek organizations here as a failure on our part or as a result of behavior that we are purportedly engaging in that purposefully excludes those members of our community who do not conform to the gender binary. It would be more prudent to cross that bridge when we get to it versus lumping Greek Life here at Swat, with Greek life universally on this particular issue.

        I, for one, welcome members of our community to discuss with us ways in which DU can become a force for change in combating these issues here at Swat, so that a trans student could feel comfortable joining either house. I believe that knowledge, advocacy, and action on issues such as this can only serve to better our community and organization as a whole.

        Best,
        Tramane Hall
        VP Member Recruitment, DU

        1. 0
          Ian Anderson '13 says:

          Tramane,

          Thanks for this one…I think you speak for both Fraternities on this point. If Phi Psi had a trans student pledge or rush I’m sure the brothers and myself would be more than welcoming, there just doesn’t seem to be any interest. I don’t think this is our fault, more the negative stigma that the community associates with fraternities, which is in many ways undeserved. There really should be an op-ed in one of the papers by a frat member on this, just so it gets pushed out to the community. I think the whole sorority issue has been badly explained and represented by the articles already out there, and many of the issues would be solved by speaking with the actual supporters and founders of the organization, rather than judging via articles in the Phoenix or DG. This being said, I’m one of the consultants for the sorority proposal, and I’m open to emails about any lingering questions I can answer. ianders1@swarthmore.edu

          Ian Anderson ’13
          Phi Psi Member,
          Fraternity Consultant for the Sorority Proposal

        2. 0
          MC says:

          Hey, Tramane, I appreciate your reply!

          I replied to someone below talking about how the burden of coming to the frats is not really on trans men — I hope you read that comment, as I hate being redundant all over here, when there’s enough going on. I am hopeful that this article has prompted DU to think about what kind of out-reach it can be doing to trans guys on this campus, and I’m sure it has, judging by responses like these.

          I am gonna have to point to “umm” though — I was talking about the wider institution of Greek life, and I absolutely suggested that if you bought into Greek life as it is formulated with fraternities and sororities, you’ve bought into a trans*phobic system. I don’t think I even mentioned DU or Phi Psi in the article.

          I can understand, though some people might not believe it, why people are upset. I understand that being a DU or Phi Psi brother is a big part of someone’s identity in college and beyond, particularly here (where reception to frats is lukewarm at best). I think there’s room to think about whether we need a Greek system or whether we could design our own that might miss some of these pitfalls all together and be more inclusive of many people with a ~rainbow~ of genders.

          That being said, I look forward to working with DU in the spring re: the CLP.

  24. 0
    serious questions says:

    Why do we have fraternities at Swarthmore in the first place? Are fraternities really inclusive? Or are they reinforcing heteronormative and gendernormative assumptions? I’m for eliminating Greek life altogether and creating spaces that have more of a purpose than just drinking and partying.

    Why do people apply and attend Swarthmore expecting a university party environment? (I SERIOUSLY need a good answer to this question). You came to Swarthmore to study your ass off, not to party it off.

    Most athletes at Swarthmore are super cool, kind, and considerate people. Idiots are everywhere, athlete or non-athlete, smart or stupid, rich or poor. Making assumptions about “groups” of people always means trouble.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      I pretty much agree with your comment, minus the last chunk. I have really good reasons to immediately throw up defenses against some groups of people (mostly white str8 cis boys) — it’s a combination of having statistics at hand and also my life experiences.

      Assumptions sometimes keep folks safe. I just think an “assumption” is differently loaded depending on who it’s aimed at — and no, there’s nothing hypocritical about pointing out some people have institutional power and others don’t.

      (Re: athletics, that is a huge can of worms.)

  25. 0
    xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

    Word, MC, great job with this.

    Just because one trans*phobic, exclusionary institution was grandfathered in doesn’t necessarily mean we need to create another.

    As a woman, I rarely find myself seeking “equal access” to other screwed up institutions. Just because they exist doesn’t mean I want one or want to be a a part of one.

  26. 0
    um noooo says:

    wow ok I was being serious. I swear. now its awkward so im going to stay anonymous. I think you’re bringing up great points and I just got excited and the tone of my comment did not match yours at all so I can see how you thought I was mocking you. Im very sorry.

  27. 0
    um noooo says:

    THANK YOU CHARLIE

    I’m starting a sorority I don’t care who cares. Its going to be inclusive, and fun, and casual and fancyy and everyone, EVERYONE is invited!!!!

    And if it sucks, we’ll fix it, or we’ll drop it. Please just let me try!

    1. 0
      V says:

      I WANT TO BE IN YOUR SORORITY TOO. Me and all of my friends are coming and it will be so fun but it’s all good right because we’re a sorority and we love each other and are never mean no matter what.

  28. 0
    Charlie O says:

    Get real.

    Wanting a sorority at Swarthmore has absolutely nothing to do with a “transphobic framework” being forced upon anyone at this school. Swarthmore is amazing because its students are expected to reject that old-fashioned type of thinking. Why wouldn’t a Swarthmore sorority be able to reject said thinking? Because it’s a sorority? Is there some sort of rule that if you start a sorority it needs to be comprised solely of betches? It would still be Swatties that make up the sorority… and to not allow swattie women that want to be in a sorority such an opportunity is unfair.

    who cares that other schools greek systems have transphobic frameworks? they aren’t swarthmore. that isn’t valid evidence for anything. did i miss the joe pa riots at swarthmore when he was fired from penn state? just because some closed minded fools act one way at a school doesn’t mean anything at swarthmore. you are doing something called stereotyping, please stop.

    What is the shimmery cloak of illusory good intentions? Are you implying that there are actually dull bad intentions within the cloak?! Whatt?!! I’m curious as to what you think the real intentions are of the Swattie girls who want to bring back sororities.

    Your parenthetical paragraph about athletics conspiracies really makes it clear to me that you have severe athletephobia. All i can say about that is im sorry sports didn’t work out for you, but the people who play them are actually really nice! You should want them to have facilities that are equivalent to schools’ with half the endowment of swarthmore.

    the title of this article is bullshit as well. As a fraternity member i feel im being publicly demonized by your title “beware the greeks”. and your allusion to dr. strangelove might have seemed clever when i was in eleventh grade, but now its just a sad attempt at reconciling humor in an article that can only be laughed at.

    1. 0
      Thank you Charlie O! says:

      I don’t understand why people automatically think that a sorority would automatically be exclusive and negatively impact our community. We do go to Swarthmore after all. If anything, I would expect Swarthmore to be one of the best places to participate in greek life because this is an incredibly diverse college that is welcoming to all kinds of students. This is a place where we’re free and encouraged to be just who we are! It’s surprising to me that so many people feel threatened by our two fraternities, athletes, and the possibility of a sorority. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had negative interactions with people from these groups, but I argue that whatever instances you are referencing are not the typical Swarthmore experience…

    2. 0
      um says:

      you would also benefit from some anthropology or social theory classes; critiques of institutions do not necessarily equal critiques of people; it’s hard to reject the dominant ideology from working within it; etc

    3. 0
      MC says:

      “Get real.”

      Both you and Mr. G have made references to the real, which I find really interesting. Somehow, I think the logic goes, my experience or words are less real than yours because … ? Things to think about.

      I’m not responding to your bit about transphobia and how it doesn’t have to be in Greek life here because you skipped the part of the article where I addressed that.

      For those following at home, Greek Life is inherently trans*phobic: it posits two genders. Really, it posits two sexes, but I’m being generous.

      “What is the shimmery cloak of illusory good intentions? Are you implying that there are actually dull bad intentions within the cloak?! Whatt?!! I’m curious as to what you think the real intentions are of the Swattie girls who want to bring back sororities.”

      I commented over at the Phoenix about this. I think the logic of the proposal over there was wrapped up in the language of ~solidarity and feminism~ but, when you actually read what they were saying (well, what their unfortunate spokesperson was saying), their concerns did not revolve around solidarity or feminism — simply another party space. That in itself is not necessarily “bad,” but it is kind of slimy to appropriate a discourse about equality to pass something because … you want it? And you’re not actually thinking about equality?

      “Your parenthetical paragraph about athletics conspiracies really makes it clear to me that you have severe athletephobia. All i can say about that is im sorry sports didn’t work out for you, but the people who play them are actually really nice! You should want them to have facilities that are equivalent to schools’ with half the endowment of swarthmore.”

      Speaking of appropriating language, it’s really inappropriate to rank having a distrust of athletes (legitimate or otherwise) or even a prejudice against them as a -phobia. People die because of homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia. Not cool.

      Again, why is it every frat brother here wants to assume who I do or don’t know, what I do or don’t do, what experiences I’ve had or don’t have?

      I’m still waiting for someone to respond to this article with a critique that tells me they’ve a) read it and b) are capable of engaging at a higher level than trying to attack me or discount me as a human.

      Gonna be waiting a while, methinks.

      “the title of this article is bullshit as well. As a fraternity member i feel im being publicly demonized by your title “beware the greeks”. and your allusion to dr. strangelove might have seemed clever when i was in eleventh grade, but now its just a sad attempt at reconciling humor in an article that can only be laughed at.”

      Sob sob sob, this deeply insightful critique cuts into my marrow.

      The quote is actually really interesting — it’s said by Laocoon, as told to us by Aeneas, who is framed by the narrator of the Aeneid. There’s layers and layers of questions about bias and subjectivity.

      I’m a person who’s had experiences. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to question the author’s experiences, but I’m somewhat amused that everyone here has a set of assumptions about my so-called assumptions.

      Why would I have a prejudice against athletes? Why would I dislike a system that reinforces the gender binary and often very painfully (thinking of the way frats/sororities operate at other schools)? Why is it that I might have deeply objected to the framing of sororities ala the Phoenix article and the unfortunate spokesperson?

      So many frat brothers are so quick to slam my critique but not willing to wonder why someone might offer one. Instead, criticism comes from stereotypes and not a real place of pain or anger or frustration or marginalization. I say frat brothers because nearly all the folks here who are strongly negative and making assumptions about me have identified themselves as brothers.

      tl;dr: Check your male privilege for two secs.

      1. 0
        um says:

        i just wanted to agree with MC on “reality”:
        “Both you and Mr. G have made references to the real, which I find really interesting. Somehow, I think the logic goes, my experience or words are less real than yours because … ? Things to think about.”

        “Reality” and “the real world” are social constructs; there is [likely] not an objectively “true” reality and to negate MC’s reality with talk of the world outside the bubble is pretty narrowminded; doing so is certainly out of touch with my “reality.”

      2. 0
        W says:

        Hey MC,

        I largely agree with everything you wrote, esp. regarding checking your privilege.

        But: “For those following at home, Greek Life is inherently trans*phobic: it posits two genders.”

        Is any group that posits two genders trans*phobic? I don’t want to jump to conclusions here, but that’s what I’m hearing from you.

        If so, I think there’s a pretty key difference here between your argument and Joan and Emma’s argument, which contends that Greek Life is not inherently trans*phobic, but often is and potentially could be at Swat – and I’m a lot more sold on theirs.

        If any positing of two genders is problematic, I don’t understand why you’re going to town on Greek Life but complimenting Joan and Emma on their article about the diversity of groups at Swat that rely upon the gender binary (assuming nobody else is posing as the one and only MC here).

        If Grapevine is not inherently trans*phobic, but only potentially so, I see no reason why a sorority shouldn’t be characterized the same way.

        1. 0
          MC says:

          Hey, I thank you for the thoughtful comment! I had to chew on it a bit.

          I guess I’d say institutions or groups or w/e have you that posit two genders in the typical cissexist / heterosexist (the latter is inherently tied up in gender for us, but the thrust of my article is clearly on the former) formulation of man and woman would be trans*phobic, particularly if inclusion revolved around them.

          If there were some rando institution that was, like, posited around, er, andro people and femme people (for example), I’d think they’d be acknowledging gender is a bigger place … they might just not be inclusive to all genders (which could be handled badly or well).

          The big reason I didn’t have a problem with Emma and Joan’s article was that it was speaking specifically to female-centered social spaces on this campus. I felt they were taking up the claim we didn’t have any or enough, not necessarily addressing gender binary stuff. And I didn’t so much have a problem with them not addressing gender binary stuff because they weren’t asking everyone to fit into a binary institution and be happy about it. They were simply speaking to womyn’s spaces on campus and how there’s a wealth of them and a resentment at being erased (please tell me if this is an overstatement) by the unfortunate spokesperson’s claims.

          I think stuff gets really tricky when we start to talk about transphobia and womyn’s spaces. There is a long history of icky transphobia in feminist / pro-womyn spaces (trans men will be allowed in, which is saying something about their gender, whereas trans womyn are not — this is a particular problem of lesbian or dyke spaces). However, I also respect that womyn are an oppressed group and need spaces for themselves, NOT to necessarily deal with issues of non-binary people (trans womyn are obviously included in the category of womyn). These are all things that are still on-going to be mulled over and worked out, so I have no doubts people might feel differently.

          So that’s sort of where I fall on that. Does that make any sense?

    4. 0
      CC '13 says:

      Charlie,

      Certainly, the hope is that this sorority would be different, since we’re at Swarthmore and we are all ‘Swatties’. But the fear is that simply by way of being called a “sorority”, there will be a certain connotation and it will attract a certain crowd within Swatties that will keep even a Swarthmore sorority very similar to the typical sorority images which pop up in our minds. Not that it’s bad, but then the people with these similar interests will again be separated from the rest of campus, as the trouble with any closed group, and it becomes an “us” vs “them” mentality. They’ll find reasons to keep the ingroup similar and special, and therefore separate themselves from the rest of the population even more, and that in itself creates exclusivity.

      Holly brought up a good point in a comment in another article: We need to see specific ways that the sorority will ensure inclusivity through race, gender, sexuality, class, etc. if the sorority aim is to create a more inclusive space for women (although I’m still confused how creating an intentionally exclusive group of women will be inclusive…). Essentially, we need a mission statement: what exactly will be the goal of this sorority? How will it ensure inclusivity, diversity, and openness? And how would a sorority be able to do more than another group for women that is hypothetically given a wet space? And what spaces on campus could possibly be used??

      1. 0
        Charlie O says:

        Good points! I can’t speak for the women who want to create the sorority but those are all valid questions. I was more offended by the articles attacks against Greek Life and the way they lumped Swat’s Greek Life in with other schools’ Greek Life, which is an absurd comparison.

          1. 0
            Charlie O says:

            as are you. please stop being so condescending, i think that’s why your article has been such a hot topic of debate relative to the other ones. furthermore, i know its easy to discredit my argument by telling me to check my male privilege, but why say that? should i not have commented? im confused as to how my male privilege comes into this discussion… and im still not convinced that greek life at swat needs to be transphobic, it only is as long as you keep assuring people that it is.

    5. 0
      Sara '12 says:

      …I’m confused.

      I’m pretty sure that the definition of sorority does define a very narrow group:

      “a society or club of women or girls, especially in a college.”

      First definition on dictionary.com agrees; the rest of them do, too.

      1. 0
        Charlie O says:

        pleeeez. i know that sororities arer historically for women in college and obviosly dictionary.com will define it that way. why does swarthmore need to define it that way?

        1. 0
          Sara '12 says:

          There could definitely be a group that is open to various genders.

          But that wouldn’t be a sorority.

          Why use a categorization (sorority) that denotes “only women” if that’s not what the intent is? Why not call it something else?

          Most of the pro-sorority discussion has been about having a space for WOMEN, which suggests that whatever they’re asking for would, in fact, be a sorority, in the most basic sense of the term.

          And so that’s what this discussion is about.

          1. 0
            Mr. X says:

            Hey Sara. I did not mean to come off as condescending I was merely using a take on the oft-used phrase guys/gals and was by no means making any sort of remark of that nature. Yes, sororities for women.

            Also, I am not so narrow-minded to view LGBT people as one group of people. Though, the more I think about it, I have found some fault in the way that I am viewing things in this regard. I really like Nina’s post and it got me to thinking: what if a trans-person tried joining my fraternity? To me, at least, I don’t think it would matter, so long as they identified as a man. The point I was really trying to make, but I realize now I awfully articulated and may have mix n’ matched some terms, was more for people who do not identify particularly with one gender having their own -ity (sorry, it was late where I am). Regardless of what MC says, Swarthmore fraternities are entirely different from Greek life elsewhere. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if a trans-person pledged Phi Psi; I know I would welcome it.

            And yes, I also find it weird that I lumped them all together, so please accept this correction and apology.

          2. 0
            Sara '12 says:

            (Replying to my own comment because it won’t let me reply to Mr. X directly–too much nesting?)

            Mr. X:

            Two things about your reply to my comment irked me.

            1. “Congrats to the girls”, “fraternities for guys, sororities for girls”. Um, I thought this was about women? Unless you’re going to go ahead and say that fraternities are for boys, this comes across as kind of condescending.

            2. LGBT is not one kind of person. Someone may or may not identify with any combination from that umbrella term. Furthermore, what’s with the assumption that someone who’s LGBT couldn’t also be a woman who would find it easy to get into a women only club?

            The problem is that there ARE people who would not, but I find it weird that you’ve lumped all LGBT people together, as if that is a monolithic designation.

          3. 0
            Charlie O says:

            the fact that a sorority is for women doesn’t mean that it is exclusive to other genders. if they throw parties i know i’ll go.

          4. 0
            Mr. X says:

            I agree there definitely could be such a group, but can’t there be both? Congrats to the girls for wanting a sorority, but what stops LGBT from doing the same thing? We have fraternities for guys, sororities for girls, and LGBTs can have whatever kind of -ity they want. Unless your arguing that the argument made is that someone stated this sorority will welcome LGBTs (which I can’t comment on because I don’t know, haven’t read all the statements), in which case I will stop talking about it. 🙂

  29. 0
    V says:

    MC-

    You rock. I am so in love with this piece (just as I am with most of your commentary. I have a huge DG/intellectual crush on you).

    lalala-
    Not to get in the way of your caps-locked emphasis on the law, but did you read the Gazette Explainer article? I’m linking it below, but the point is that Title IX doesn’t apply here.
    http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2011/11/13/title-ix-and-sororities/

    I like many of the brothers that I know, but let’s not get into a discussion of individual vs. group behavior. People do stupid (and awful, and cruel, and appalling) things in groups.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Thank you for bringing up the article about Title IX, V.

      I’m deeply flattered and all blushy in my virtual cheeks or something.

      Also, I thought I made it clear I moved to a critique of the Institution of Greek Life — actually, I did. I think people are just willfully misreading or something (or are sensitive because I pinched their identity which is a totally valid thing to feel upset about … but then maybe it leads to thinking about it).

    2. 0
      Sara '12 says:

      I think it’s important to highlight the difference between individual versus group behavior. I have nothing against individual members of the fraternities and in fact find many of them that I’ve actually interacted with to be very nice, friendly, upstanding people.

      But then I hear someone (in a frat) bragging that they were the only one who didn’t puke.

      What’s that all about?

  30. 0
    Holly says:

    Sure, but we haven’t seen any really explicit reasons why this sorority WOULD be inclusive, lalala. Would it really be accepting of all genders, including those who break outside the gender binary? Call ME pessimistic, but I really don’t think this sorority would. And, sure, I agree with Title IX: Yes, we should have a space for groups of women on campus. (But, as Emma and Joan have argued, they already exist.) But don’t hide behind the Title IX rule as an excuse for the sorority to be exclusive to women who only fit a very specific mold. Furthermore, why don’t we have sororities and fraternities that disregard gender and instead come together based on other attributes (I’m a pretty big fan of Zack’s article because of this)? Why does it NEED to be called a sorority? Why can’t we give more money to the damn WRC instead and make it a space for partying, for sewing, for baking, for whatever? Yeah, the fact that we only have fraternities is wack. But if you propose a sorority on campus, understand that it’s going to bring to light a can of Greek worms. I want to see specific reasons and actions to ensure that the sororities would be as inclusive and welcoming a space as you say they would be. And don’t rely on the fact that the fraternities are your example for inclusivity, either: we need to see more. (One more fly in the ointment: where exactly are you planning to have this sorority? I don’t think they’ll adjust the budget to build another building, and replacing already-existing buildings is SUPER problematic.)

    So you want a space for women on campus. Okay. What will you do once you have it? Because, right now, it sounds like the members of LASS want a space on campus for them and for nobody else. I’m happy to be proven wrong, though.

  31. 0
    Mr. X says:

    “I hold a deep distrust of allowing more Greek life on campus.”
    Interesting. How would you feel if I said that I hold a deep distrust of allowing more LGBT life on campus? What if I singled out any group on this campus and said I didn’t want them to grow on campus (aside from athletes and fraternities, of course)? You’d probably call me a bigot, tell me I had no business at being at an open community at Swarthmore, or something of the like. Swarthmore needs to get its collective head out of its ass. The amount of hypocrisy on this campus in unbelievable. On the one hand you have a serious amount of students who identify as liberal, a way of thinking that demands that one be open to different ideas, people, groups, etc. And yet here you sit, talking shit about a group of people on this campus you clearly have very little grasp on, but rather base your ideas on experiences elsewhere (i.e. the kid who bullied on you in high school = your average DU brother). Though I’m glad you have the stereotypes of fraternities being “rooted in classist, capitalist ideas” , are “transphobic”, and that we somehow try to conform our physical looks to societal standards. Again, I’d love to see how long it would take for me to get called a bigot if I went around talking about the stereotypes of LGBT people or other ethnic groups.

    And how would giving girls a sorority perpetuate these gender binaries? If anything it would open up the possibility of breaking them down here at Swat. “Here is the only equation offered as a solution: fraternity + sorority = fair.” What keeps LGBT groups from forming their own –ities? If they want to have their own space, their own whatever-hood that a LGBT-ity would inspire in its members, why not? If a sorority is formed, maybe there will be enough demand among the LGBT community for their own space and social group that would equate to a -ity; you can bet your life that if such a demand came up at Swat, it would 100% be supported by the student body and administration; it seems people just have a problem with athletes and frat guys at this school. Maybe elsewhere what you’re saying holds some weight, and I only say maybe because I don’t talk about shit that I don’t know anything about.

    Here’s what’s real. I joined a fraternity at Swarthmore for two main reasons: I like to party and I enjoy brotherhood, with the emphasis here clearly on the latter and not the former. Our fraternities are pretty damn open; we don’t charge, we let anybody in (except villerats), and we throw parties for EVERYONE to come and enjoy. Who are you to tell me that what I am a part of “doesn’t work”? You want to know what the investment in the -ities is? Get to know some of the brothers and ask them. Or continue making sweeping, ignorant generalizations of Swarthmore Greek Life based off TV shows or what you’ve heard about frat life from your friends at Vanderbilt, Villanova, Miami, or wherever. Better yet, keep talking shit about frat guys and athletes and perpetuate the myth of fairness and equality you are espousing.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      Holy shit, I’m simultaneously lollerskating and touched. I would have to question my delivery if Mr. G hadn’t come around to butt heads with me.

      Let’s break this down.

      “How would you feel if I said that I hold a deep distrust of allowing more LGBT life on campus? What if I singled out any group on this campus and said I didn’t want them to grow on campus (aside from athletes and fraternities, of course)? You’d probably call me a bigot, tell me I had no business at being at an open community at Swarthmore, or something of the like.”

      I’d call you a homophobe. In fact, I’ma just call you a homophobe right now. More accurately (since I don’t know you, my dear anon), what you’re saying is homophobic.

      Trying to equate fraternities and athletics to the queer community or any other marginalized community is a false analogy. Fraternities and athletics are tied up with systems of power in our society: Whiteness, upper-class-ness, straightness, cis-ness, MALENESS, etc. As Alex said, there’s a power differential. You hating on queer folk only reinforces the way we’re beaten, bullied, abused, thrown out of our homes, correctively raped, raped by cops and murdered. Even if I were hating on Greek life, it has none of the consequences and may be legitimate in that I’m hating on systems that do violence to oppressed peoples.

      “Swarthmore needs to get its collective head out of its ass. The amount of hypocrisy on this campus in unbelievable. On the one hand you have a serious amount of students who identify as liberal, a way of thinking that demands that one be open to different ideas, people, groups, etc.”

      I don’t identify as liberal. Also, I’m not sure why coming down against Greek life (weirdly, which you keep framing as fraternities only) means I wasn’t at one point open to it but then thought through it and came to different conclusions.

      “And yet here you sit, talking shit about a group of people on this campus you clearly have very little grasp on, but rather base your ideas on experiences elsewhere (i.e. the kid who bullied on you in high school = your average DU brother). Though I’m glad you have the stereotypes of fraternities being “rooted in classist, capitalist ideas” , are “transphobic”, and that we somehow try to conform our physical looks to societal standards. Again, I’d love to see how long it would take for me to get called a bigot if I went around talking about the stereotypes of LGBT people or other ethnic groups.”

      Yeah, I still think you’re missing the point. I’m not talking shit about DU specifically; I’m talking “shit” about the Institution of Greek life, which DU obviously has adopted (and may subvert to some degree).

      Can you tell me how frats and sororities aren’t rooted in classist, capitalist ideas and how they aren’t trans*phobic or have potentially oppressive ideas about what men look like?

      “And how would giving girls a sorority perpetuate these gender binaries? If anything it would open up the possibility of breaking them down here at Swat. “Here is the only equation offered as a solution: fraternity + sorority = fair.” What keeps LGBT groups from forming their own –ities? If they want to have their own space, their own whatever-hood that a LGBT-ity would inspire in its members, why not? If a sorority is formed, maybe there will be enough demand among the LGBT community for their own space and social group that would equate to a -ity; you can bet your life that if such a demand came up at Swat, it would 100% be supported by the student body and administration; it seems people just have a problem with athletes and frat guys at this school. Maybe elsewhere what you’re saying holds some weight, and I only say maybe because I don’t talk about shit that I don’t know anything about.”

      I can’t seriously critique you right now because you just suggested we form a “LGBT-ity.” Are queer people now a separate gender? What the fresh hell? Did you read what I wrote?

      Fraternities and sororities maintain the gender binary because they posit there are MEN AND WOMEN, when it’s a MEN OR WOMEN OR … kind of thing. If you are buying into Greek life as a model to adopt, you are at some level endorsing that.

      Also, thought:

      Maybe people have a problem with athletes and frats at this school for real reasons? Maybe there are issues of safety that some people feel regarding those two sub-communities?

      Here’s what’s real. I joined a fraternity at Swarthmore for two main reasons: I like to party and I enjoy brotherhood, with the emphasis here clearly on the latter and not the former. Our fraternities are pretty damn open; we don’t charge, we let anybody in (except villerats), and we throw parties for EVERYONE to come and enjoy. Who are you to tell me that what I am a part of “doesn’t work”? You want to know what the investment in the -ities is? Get to know some of the brothers and ask them. Or continue making sweeping, ignorant generalizations of Swarthmore Greek Life based off TV shows or what you’ve heard about frat life from your friends at Vanderbilt, Villanova, Miami, or wherever. Better yet, keep talking shit about frat guys and athletes and perpetuate the myth of fairness and equality you are espousing.

      Yes, I’ll keep making my sweeping, ignorant generalizations of Greek life based off of, obviously, not my own experience as long as you keep making your sweeping, ignorant generalizations about me. SOUNDS LIKE A FAIR TRADE.

      tl;dr: lol

      1. 0
        Mr. X says:

        Hmm I believe you have missed my point MC. I’d just like to clarify that I’m not a homophobe, nor am I phobic of any of the related (or unrelated) lifestyles; people are people and can live however they want, that’s their call and I would never argue otherwise.

        Now, I think we have ourselves a profound misunderstanding between us that I would like to rectify. First, my analogy was not meant to be the topic of your thesis paper for your major. If it was offensive I am sorry (see comment to J Keefe). Like Bob Dole aptly put I merely wished to point out the fact that at Swat athletes/frat guys are looked down on, treated as second-class students, etc. The two also are very different in all the ways you said, but I also want to try and explain to you that Greek life at Swarthmore is very different from Greek life elsewhere.

        You’re probably 100% right about Greek life elsewhere being transphobic, being classist/capitalist, and imposing oppressive views about what to look like; this was not my argument, and I am sorry if it came off as such. Here at Swat, I honestly would hesitate to even call our fraternities Greek life because they are honestly more like glorified social clubs.

        Now about LGBT-ity. Reading over my post, I realize that a) this did not come out how I wanted it to come out, and b) some of it is indeed straight-up retarded. Let me try again. As I commented lower about this, nothing stops a transperson from pledging one of the fraternities. I don’t know what the reaction would be if someone chose to do so, I don’t know how my brothers would react; I for one would be interested in it happening and would totally support it (seriously, sign up for ’12 pledge class). What I meant to argue for was for a -ity for those who did not particularly identify with a particular gender. Sorry for the confusion.

        As to your thought: I’m curious to know more about these real reasons you think people don’t like athletes aside from stereotypes, especially this “safety” issue.

        This is the point I was trying to make, but it was 1 am, I was tired, and clearly not thinking properly. 🙂

        1. 0
          MC says:

          I didn’t miss your point, and this conversation would go better if you stopped mansplaining to me.

          I’m also gonna have to ask you to cease and desist with the “second-class citizen” crap. I’m very serious: you can feel shitty because people are constantly assuming things about you (which may or may not be true). It never feels good, here at ye olde Panopticon, to feel like people are talking about you or judging you or what have you. I get it, I do. But that’s not the same as actually being a second-class citizen. Because if you were even remotely close to a second-class citizen, not only would everyone be busting your ass, they might even be doing it with fists or worse. AND the administration would just laugh and look away or promise to take care of it and sweep it under the rug. (While we’re on me being the thought police, the r* word is super ick although omnipresent).

          I hear what everyone’s saying about how it’s different here, how it’s not the bad -ist or -phobic words. I have admitted somewhere on this mess that I think Greek life here is waaaaaaaaahaaaaaay better here than many places, but I said in the article that by buying into the Greek system, you’re complicit in some bigger systematic issues. I’m not able to withdraw that claim because it is true. We’re all complicit in shit; the question is what do we do about it.

          I appreciate your apology for the LGBT-ity thing. As a quick note, trans people prefer a space between trans [noun] because trans is an adjective (so when you see a news article saying So and So is a transgender, that’s wrong). In the same way I wouldn’t call you a str8, except if I was pissed as all hell, or a cis, you know. You get the picture.

          I’d also note that non-binary gender does not mean, necessarily, not having a gender. I’d say my gender is masculine … some days it’s queer. Non-binary is not the absence of gender (although some people are agender, so then it would be). I do appreciate what you’re saying about forming a space for people on the trans* spectrum … but as you know and I know, that can’t happen under the aegis of the Greek system because we don’t exist according to Greek life.

          Woof, already wrote a small novel.

          You say that frats here are just a glorified social club. I’m gonna preface my question by saying I have no agenda on this; I’m just interested in whatever your answer is. So, here’s the question: is there something about it being a frat or men-only that would be lost if it became not-a-frat or all-genders? I asked another DU brother, and he didn’t have an answer (or he didn’t answer). I’m legitimately curious — I’m not in a frat, can’t be, wouldn’t want to be, so I feel like it makes the most sense to ask a brother about it.

          Last, if you scroll down to For Real, ’13, who thinks ASAP is pointless (PS: frats, if he’s one of yours, I am gonna be a leetle disappointed, especially after all the hooting about helping out with CLP and whatnot) demands to know why I am so “anti-athlete.” I’ve listed some reasons I’m not a fan of varsity? athletic culture.

          I’d also say that a lot of womyn have been discussing feeling unsafe in the frats (which are, y’know, very representative of our student athletes). Getting back to you calling out my life experiences, yeah, I’ve had bad experiences with athletes routinely. Not all athletes. But routinely. I don’t think discounting people’s life experiences makes an argument more legitimate. It’s a safety thing. Now, the athlete part may not be driving the unsafe part, but after a while it seems to me they’re running in tandem or not existing in a conflicted space, at the very least.

          Does any of this make sense? I’m somehow less coherent at 11am than I was at 1am.

          I thank you for the attempt to talk with me respectfully, and I am really interested in hearing more about your thoughts on frats and what’s unique and can it be reduplicated and whatnot. (I’m also gonna go see this DU rug next week; when do people usually hang out in DU so I can get a tour?)

          1. 0
            Mr. X says:

            As I am not member of DU I can’t honestly tell you when to go check out the place (also, with our party permits for Thursdays revoked and me being abroad, I have no idea when people go to the houses anymore). However, I would like to continue this discussion, but I’d rather it via email if you do not mind, not because I’m afraid of what the public will think of my revered DG name (jokes), but rather this has become a ridiculously difficult thread to navigate. If you’d rather keep this public let me know.

      2. 0
        Random Athlete says:

        Trying to equate fraternities and athletics to the queer community or any other marginalized community is a false analogy. Fraternities and athletics are tied up with systems of power in our society: Whiteness, upper-class-ness, straightness, cis-ness, MALENESS, etc. As Alex said, there’s a power differential.

        I just want to point out that whiteness and upperclassness are, for the most part, not tied up with athletics. In fact, I can’t think of a single sport that doesn’t have significant representation at all levels by non-whites (my first thought was golf, but I don’t know that for sure). In fact, my intuition is, though I don’t claim to have stats on this, that many sports are dominated (not in terms of numbers of players but in terms of who does most of the winning) by minority and international players at both the college and pro levels. As far as sports being tied up with upperclassness, I think it’s more of a mixed bag than you’re giving it credit for. While there is such a thing as a “country-club athlete,” that’s not primarily what you’re going to find at the college level (since country-club players don’t tend to be very good). Rather, many athletes who make it to the college level are motivated by the need for a college scholarship. As far as the other three points, I see the plausibility, but in particular, it’s worth pointing out that if sports is concerned with straightness, cis-ness, or maleness, that concern is in the institution’s subconscious. I think the institution of sports consciously operates on the ideals of rewarding and reinforcing self-motivation, commitment to goals, willingness to listen to mentors, working with a team among many other qualities – all of which a person interested in affecting social change would do well to have (not that one can’t obtain these qualities in many other ways).

        I’m not saying this as a response to your concerns about the sorority issue or as a rebuttal to your point that the analogy between the oppression of LGBT and other groups to the so-called oppression of athletes at Swarthmore is false. That is certainly true. I simply think that your characterization of athletes and sports in general is unfair in some ways. Further, I think the Swarthmore community shares some of these attitudes to its own detriment.

        1. 0
          MC says:

          Thank you for making me nom a little bit on these ideas.

          I can confess that the history of athletics is something I no little to zero about, and most of where I’m speaking from is the position of someone who grew up in suburbia, played sports seriously until about tenth grade (had to leave my team because of hoooly shit ostracism because I’m a homo-ish) and then watched athletic culture as it played out in my essentially “d1” high school and my d3 college. All of this is to say I could be wrong or misinformed or not get the nuances, so please lemme know what you think.

          So, I would say that I am discussing athletic culture and not athletes. Dear lawd, half the school is an athlete; I’d have fewer friends than I’ve managed to lose re: this article if I hated athletes on principle. I think you got that point, though.

          I guess, and this may vary by sport, I wonder how much of athletic culture is rooted in these power structures. I hear what you’re saying about how folks who need scholarships play at the college level (I’m not sure if they’re the majority or not), how there are some sports who seem to represent non-white athletes in good numbers … but how much is the culture itself rooted in the big nasties? I’m always suspicious when you see where the money goes, and athletics are a cash cow even here (alum monay). Do people who aren’t privileged in certain ways more or less have to assimilate? Does this all vary by sport and level (varsity vs. club)? I don’t know. I think there’s a reason sports are so deeply ingrained in US culture …

          You know, we reward the people who are the best. And we recognize that the best happens because of hard work. Hard work and dedication and hard work. That in itself sounds a lot like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, part of the “American dream” mythos that can be unkind to people who don’t have bootstraps. If that homeless person has a cell phone, they can’t be that bad off. And then, I think it’s fair to say, we recognize the Greats are born with a natural ability, at least a little bit of a natural ability, and that may reinforce ideologies around that.

          I realize some people reading this may be, “Nope, now they’ve actually lost it,” but I liked your comment about how these structures may be operating at the level of the subconscious. I would not say the administration here, if it’s doing some of the ick I listed below, is operating on the subconscious level, but the reason US folks love baseball may be — baseball might confirm ideologies that build their identity as USian, etc. Does any of this make sense? Or rather, the way we talk about and engage with baseball reinforces the ideologies that mark us as [USian, men, str8, white, etc].

          I’d say cis-ness is one of the most overt things that’s DEFINITELY in play at all times. How else do we decide who is on a men’s team or a womyn’s team? What do we do when someone is medically transitioning? What about if they’re only transitioning “part-way?” (What does that even mean?)

          Anyway, you’ve made me step back and nom a little more, so I hope this made sense and wasn’t too incredibly 11am-just-woke-up.

          1. 0
            Random Athlete says:

            “most of where I’m speaking from is the position of someone who grew up in suburbia, played sports seriously until about tenth grade (had to leave my team because of hoooly shit ostracism because I’m a homo-ish) and then watched athletic culture as it played out in my essentially “d1″ high school and my d3 college. All of this is to say I could be wrong or misinformed or not get the nuances, so please lemme know what you think.”

            Right. Clearly that doesn’t make you wrong, my opinion is just that white suburbia is not a representative sample. If you grew up near the IMG sports academy in Florida, or near one of the great sports academies in Spain, France, or a number of other places, you might be more inclined to see sports for the international, interracial, intercultural, inter-linguistic phenomenon that it is.

            My next question is this: what do you mean by wondering “how much of athletic culture is rooted in these power structures?” I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that. Also what do you mean by big nasties?

            “Do people who aren’t privileged in certain ways more or less have to assimilate? Does this all vary by sport and level (varsity vs. club)? I don’t know.”

            My experience is that sports is, for the most part, simply integrated. Minorities (i’m thinking in terms of race here, and in terms of getting a college scholarship) are both free to assimilate or free to integrate without having to “act white”. This is true at a number of levels. I’ve seen so-called underprivileged players stick with social groups that identify together on that level, and I’ve seen them socialize outside those groups. Generally, if you’re good at the sport, you have no problem finding respect from other players regardless of class or race differences. Additionally, I don’t think either way of doing things helps or hurts one’s chances at obtaining a college scholarship since the recruiting process is pretty mechanical. By mechanical, I mean the fact that division 1 coaches have to win to keep their jobs provides a pretty strong incentive to make decisions simply on recruits’ ability rather than on racial or class biases. Part of the reason Division 3 has become so much stronger in recent years (trust me, it has) is because there is a huge influx of foreign athletes into division 1 sports simply because the foreign players are good and coaches are happy to give them the scholarships. Certainly this last point varies by sport but I don’t think it should be obvious which sports are more international than others. Again, I don’t have data in front of me, but I think there’s more and more “typically American” sports being played at high levels overseas every year.

            As far as varsity vs. club: I think there is an important distinction to be made here. And when I say club, I don’t necessarily mean people who play on club teams in college. Those people are often quite serious athletes. I’m talking about purely recreational (meaning not interested in goal setting, self-motivation etc.) country club people. I don’t have anything good or bad to say about that way of participating in sports. What I am asking is that people not confuse that with varsity college athletes and put us all in one group. The “power structures” that operate will not be the same and the culture will not be the same. I’m asking that we be clear which one we’re talking about. I think there is some prejudice against athletes on the Swarthmore campus that comes from a failure to make this distinction.

            As far as sports being part of the american dream and creating american solidarity … I’m not 100% sure if I have much to say to that. I don’t really disagree or agree. In my mind sports is an international, all-time phenomenon. So if you want to look at problems within the american sports culture, go right ahead. Just keep in mind that many of the actual athletes live in (meaning train in and grow up in) a completely separate, international sports world.

            Similarly, you’re thoughts about baseball may be completely right with regard to some people. At the same time, baseball is one of the sports I think of as being pretty international and interracial. If anything, the lines it draws are finer than US vs. rest of the world. It’s more like our city vs. your city at least for the most part.

            Obviously, if the administration actually did any of the things regarding the sexual abuse incidents you mention, that would be a huge problem. Once again, when I say the institution of sports, I’m not referring to our school’s administration. I don’t think we’re disagreeing here though.

            Cis-ness – you’re right to bring that up. There is no argument to be made. Sports has that problem. My point is that it would be unfair to portray sports and the people who play them as actively interested in that. It’s not that anyone wants it to be that way (and i’m going to say something that sounds like an excuse, but nonetheless is the case) that’s just how it was when we found it. Let me repeat this if it wasn’t clear. I’m not saying you aren’t right that sports has a pro-cis-ness structure (and that that’s bad), I’m just saying that in my experience, the Swarthmore community seems to be operating on the mistaken notion that sports is actually about that. As though the creation of the institution of sports was actually aimed at oppressing people. When in fact it is essentially seen by athletes as a metaphor for life and one of its primary functions is character building. It’s not that your criticisms are wrong, I’ve just noticed a systematic omission about what’s really going on with sports in the mind of the Swarthmore Community.

      3. 0
        Bob Dole says:

        First, can we try to be a little more civil, please? MC, I really appreciate this thorough response to Mr. X; however, it seems to me that you’re letting anger cloud your arguments and coming across as more of a jerk. For example, the “tl;dr: lol” tells everyone (or at least everyone who knows that ‘tl;dr’ means ‘too long, didn’t read’ as a suggestion of a quick summary of the post) that you have no respect for Mr. X’s opinion, thinking that it’s a joke. But I was under the impression that everyone was entitled to an opinion, and I’d hate to have to qualify that as “everyone is entitled to an opinion, unless I think they’re wrong.”

        Anyway, here’s what I really want to get at: when I read Mr. X’s first post up there, I interpreted it completely differently from you. I’m sure a lot of that is because I’m a straight, white, male athlete (who, for the record, has absolutely no interest in Greek life, and in fact generally tries to avoid frat parties). But if I can put words into Mr. X’s mouth, I think he* is saying that Swarthmore’s campus is different from the world “outside the bubble.” Obviously, homophobia, sexism, and racism are all still major problems in the world, and I don’t think he was trying to deny that. And sure, there are almost certainly some homophobic/sexist/racist people on campus — it’s not like there’s a box on the application that says “check this if you’re a homophobe; note that you will be denied admission as a result.”

        But, as far as I can tell, there’s no real oppression of the LGBT community here at Swarthmore. And, in fact, HERE AT SWARTHMORE, it kind of seems like the opposite. The following quote comes from an old SQU website (http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/squ/squ.html) — sorry I couldn’t find anything more recent:
        “The Swarthmore Queer Union is a social and support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning students. SQU meetings take place at 10pm in the big room of the Intercultural Center. These meetings are closed and confidential.”
        Now, I don’t know, because I’ve never tried, but that sounds like a group which is closed to students who know they are straight (I admit that I might be wrong!). On the contrary, I’ve never heard anything about queer students not being allowed in a Swarthmore fraternity. That would, obviously, be totally homophobic and not at all cool.

        Essentially, speaking as a straight white male athlete, I am a minority on this campus. People like me, to whom I have no intentional connection, hold most of the positions of power in the world outside of Swarthmore, and here at Swat, I actually get looked down on for that. Is that fair?

        No, MC, we don’t have it as bad as LGBT folks do most everywhere. And I, at least, would never try to claim that it’s as bad for me here as it is for anyone else anywhere else. I’ve never been in their positions, and I’m not fit to comment on them. But it does seem to me that here at Swat, despite the presence of the fraternities, there is a social power differential that does not favor straight white males.

        1. 0
          RA says:

          “Essentially, speaking as a straight white male athlete, I am a minority on this campus.”

          -Dude, forreal forreal? As a White male, you will NEVER be a minority ANYWHERE in America, including Swarthmore’s campus. (47 percent White, non-hispanic campus based off of the most recent Common Data Set). I think you may be having a few abandonment issues or something. Because a minority is something you are NOT. and never will be.

          1. 0
            Bob Dole says:

            You are right, I was wrong. I meant to say that I feel like a minority sometimes: I guess it’s what MC referred to as “experiencing what it’s like when your opinion isn’t immediately worth its weight in gold”. Though I feel like, rather than simply not being taken completely at face value, my comments are actually just completely disregarded. Again, as MC says,
            “Also, I thank you for identifying yourself as str8.
            I have literally zero interest in what str8 people feel about oppression of queer people.”

            Hopefully this has clarified my opinion some; I’m sorry to have misstated that in such a gruesome and blatantly incorrect way earlier.

        2. 0
          MC says:

          Hey, Bob,

          I appreciate the respect of your comment. It was really difficult for me to speak to it in a tone of respect, due to the absolutely mind-boggling stuff you dropped. I tried my best, I really did.

          I’m going to make everyone shudder with fear. The whole neoliberal premise of rational discourse will quake at its very roots.

          Mr. G is entitled to his opinion. When he puts it out in the public sphere, as half-formed and thoughtless as it is, I’m entitled to lol at it.

          So, free speech all around, basically. So much free speech that the people who are lamenting the death of free speech mourn some more.

          Also, I thank you for identifying yourself as str8.

          I have literally zero interest in what str8 people feel about oppression of queer people. Do you remember the cover-up of the queer bashing? Hm? I’ve had several incidents with homo- and trans*phobia here, from students and professors.

          What I guess I’m going to say is …

          I think, maybe, Swat comes CLOSER (not all the way, just closer) to a culture that doesn’t glorify str8 males. CLOSER. NOT PERFECT. You’re not being bashed, brother, you’re experiencing what it’s like when your opinion isn’t immediately worth its weight in gold. You’re hearing serious critiques of things you never even thought to think about (gender, str8ness, for example).

          So, you’re not oppressed. You’re not without institutional privilege. You probably still have a lot of privilege because people, regrettably, are forced to internalize their oppressions. SOCIAL PREJUDICE =/= INSTITUTIONAL OPPRESSION =/= POWER DIFFERENTIAL.

          Also, Bob, c’mon. Would you like to prove to me how white people are even a statistical minority here? COME. ON.

          “and I’m not fit to comment on them.”

          Words you should maybe actually take to heart.

          (PS: When you throw out phrases like “you’re too angry” or the like, you’re actually using something called a tone argument — a tone argument tries to derail the focus of the conversation by latching onto the incivility of the marginalized speaker. I’m angry, Bob. I’m angry no one read the article and would rather jump on an assessment of transphobia by a trans* person than all the self-identified brothers who tried to attack my life experiences or dismiss them. I’m angry at other things in this world, in the “real world,” which heyo I lived in a long time and will be going back to come June. I think I have a right to it, the anger. So please don’t come in here and ask me to cool off, especially when you’re going to post a giant comment which simultaneously claims not to comment on something YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT but then does.)

          1. 0
            MC says:

            I have to reply to myself, which is awk, but I’m replying to your below thingamajig, Bobbo.

            No, your voice is important. It’s not important re: what queer people experience. It’s that simple. You haven’t lived it. I don’t think there’s no place ever for str8 men to talk (although maybe learning to be quiet sometimes could be good too), but it’s not to tell queer people what they do or don’t face in a given environment.

            I would love to hear your comments on the article, whether you agree or disagree. As you can see above, I don’t have patience for people who are going for my ~life~ but I am always open to critiques of what I wrote.

            Also, thank you for the trigger warning!

            (Also, that was to what I refer. I don’t want to drag it up again, but please do feel free to email me at amassi1 if you want to hear a fuller perspective on it, from a queer bystander.)

          2. 0
            Bob Dole says:

            Very well, MC. I appreciate your efforts to be respectful, and I will take to heart the fact that you don’t care about my opinions because I am straight. And I’ll withdraw from the conversation, because my voice doesn’t seem to be important. But I do want to say one thing, and one thing only, in rebuttal.

            Trigger warning: discussion of a specific, violent, homophobic act

            Do you remember the cover-up of the queer bashing?

            Yes, very vividly, assuming you mean the incident that occurred last spring. The two people involved are both friends of mine; the Swarthmore student is one of the best friends I have. My understanding was that he wanted to lay low and avoid the attention. It wasn’t that the institution was covering it up, it was that the institution was being respectful of the victims. I’m certainly not happy with how the situation was handled, for a number of reasons, but I don’t think there was any real “cover-up.”

            If that’s not what you’re referencing, then no, I don’t remember, and I’d really appreciate it if you’d take the time to elaborate. Because I like to think I can admit when I’m wrong, or ignorant, and I’d like to know better.

            Also, sorry for my unintentional use of the tone argument. I did read the article, and I thought it was pretty freakin’ awesome. I can comment more in that regard, if you care. My previous comment was a response to the tangent that had already started, and I’m sorry I contributed to your anger.

        3. 0
          Bob Dole says:

          *I’m using “he” here only because “Mr.” and “he” are generally affiliated. Sincere apologies if that’s an offensive assumption.

          1. 0
            N. says:

            @Quietly Queer:

            Just one tiny correction: i20 is an open group for international and non-international students alike and is not a discussion-based group. All the other groups are appropriate for your analogy, though.

          2. 0
            Quietly Queer says:

            I think it’s important to distinguish the functions of groups like Fraternities and Sororities from groups like SQU, Enlace, etc.

            Fraternities provide a space for male bonding, brotherhood, community service, and social life on campus. As a non-frat member, I interface with the frats largely through their blood-drive requests and through the social aspect, and the latter much more often. My impression is Greek life (at Swat) is about a social group space for men (a space to which the general Swat population does have free access).

            Groups like SQU are social, yes, but their primary function is supportive. SQU (and SASS, and I-20 etc.) are discussion-based groups aimed to deal with the particularities of (in the instance of SQU) a queer identity and queer life at Swat and in “the real world”. They are closed not because they wish to create a queer only *social* atmosphere, but because they feel (I assume) that having a queer-only space to deal with queer issues allows people to be safe.

            I don’t think that Swarthmore is a place where the LGBT community has the opposite of oppression. There are a lot of people who don’t even feel like they can come out at Swat. Swarthmore is not a magical land where ideas of heterosexism and cissexism don’t exist.

            I agree with you WHOLEHEARTEDLY that there’s a big sense that people with traditional privilege (cis, white, straight, athlete, republican) don’t have as much to add to conversations. I know how much of a backlash there is to conservatism here, for example. I think that sucks. It’s something I’ve been guilty of it, but it sucks sucks sucks. But, while it represents a social dynamic, it does NOT reflect a power differential in the favor of LGBT students at Swat. Not at all. This is still a place where queer students can be (and have been) otherized.

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        Mr. X says:

        I 100% agree with you, Alex; LGBT are not given the rights they deserve in American society and it really is screwed up sometimes. However, at Swarthmore it is the exact opposite on campus; athletes and fraternity members (not to mention conservatives) are the “oppressed”. This is what I am pointing out.

        1. 0
          J. Keefe '10 says:

          Hi, Mr. X! As a queer male, I’m sorry to hear that fraternity brothers, too, suffer from the exact same oppression, stigma, and exclusion that GLBTQ people do? I’d like to learn more and educate myself! Can you link me to any articles about fraternity brothers being assaulted or murdered because of their Greek association? Or brothers being systematically barred access to governmental services, or from seeing their loved ones in the hospital, or from adopting children? I’m also really interested as to how Swarthmore specifically prevents you from having these rights? Can’t wait to hear back from you!

          Sarcastically yours xoxoxo

          1. 0
            Mr. X says:

            J. Keefe: Really I am very sorry if I offended you. And no I did not wish to come off as the guy that “does not really give a shit about queer people” which is the farthest thing from the truth. The line of thinking I was attempting to draw is that here at Swarthmore, on our campus, people (administration and students) tend to be more accepting, even if it is what one would consider polite acceptance, of the queer community, much more accepting than to the athletic/fraternity crowd. I AM NOT marginalizing the oppression that GLBTQ group has went through and still continues to. I am not saying that our experiences are alike in the sense that the severity of actions taken against one group is greater in one or the other, but more like what you said that MOST people are reflexively prejudiced against fraternity brothers. I am sorry for the confusion and for seeming callous.

          2. 0
            J. Keefe '10 says:

            After reading what I wrote and wondering who you, Mr. X might be, I felt a little bit guilty for being snarky… but, honestly, I feel like there must be some disconnect—caused by emotions flying high or some sort of insensitivity or I don’t even know what—for you to simultaneously point out the potent oppression against queer people AND to say that the situation for fraternity brothers and athletes is somehow comparable. You can say “some people are reflexively prejudiced against fraternity brothers” without comparing yourselves to a group that’s marginalized in very powerful ways outside (and some would argue within) the context of the college. Seriously. You can do it.

            It makes you seem as though you are paying lip service as a discourse marker to match the liberal norms of Swarthmore. And, speaking to a hypothetical-“you”-who-may-wish-to-be-a-little-less-incendiary-inadvertently-or-not-about-these-sorts-of-things, I guarantee that there are a lot of queer people who saw that and thought, “This frat brother does not really give a shit about queer people,” because many of those queer people have actually experienced the kinds of oppression you have associated (rhetorically) with yourself.

        2. 0
          Sara '12 says:

          While I can see that some people’s attitudes towards fraternities and athletes might be critical or unwelcoming, “the exact opposite” of LGBT oppression certainly does NOT occur on campus.

          Being who you are and getting beat up for it or threatened or excluded is not the same as people not being thrilled about your club or thinking you are over-funded or what have you.

  32. 0
    lalala says:

    So, the “there aren’t two genders” idea is basically completely besides the point…Fact is, by LAW (Title IX), and if a group of women want this to exist on campus, the school is legally bound to do it. Also, if you get rid of the fraternities, watch how quickly Swarthmore loses prospective students and lots of alumni cash. I’m all for dissolving the gender binary culture, but call me pessimistic, the administration isn’t going to get rid of the fraternities anytime soon, so long as there is a demonstrated want. The charge of exclusivity is also questionable. The frat members here are also swatties, and often defy campus stereotypes about them. It is demeaning to suggest that sorority sisters at swarthmore couldn’t subvert the typical Greek stereotypes as well. If you think the frat members don’t, you should really try *actually* getting to know some of them. They’re an accepting group of guys.

    1. 0
      MC says:

      I always love the irony of an anon making accusations about whom I do or don’t know.

      1. Sahiba’s article clearly demonstrates, using quotations from Title IX, that this school is not legally obligated to bring sororities. Also, since when was the law actually just, ie, why are we running to the law to defend the Greek system?

      2. Yeah, alumni money would be a problem. Are we supposed to be worrying about money? The original proposal was framed around political commitments to ~solidarity and feminism~ so it didn’t seem like they were so fussed about money (particularly about the part where we’d have to buy or build a house for any new sorority). I’m not so interested in keeping open cashlines that are ethically questionable. RChopp, no doubt, has no such reservations. Also, some alumni might gleefully step up to help support a lack of Greek life. Ya never know.

      3. Lastly, c’mon, yo. I was the head-ish organizer of CLP last year (it’s a team effort). I worked with DU. I tried to work with Phi Psi, but they didn’t respond to my emails asking if they wanted to help out. Working with DU, LAST YEAR, was like pulling teeth. I was receiving very little communication and support. That has historically not been the case with DU’s involvement re: CLP, so maybe it was just generally an off-year for leadership or organization or something.

      I think you’re missing the part where I’m talking about Institutions. Very many Swat brothers are fantastic people who I’m glad to have met and talked with; some aren’t. That’s all irrelevant because they’ve all bought into Greek life, which is all messed for the reasons I’ve listed above. I’m calling for chucking not Phi Psi or DU or whatever local fraternity you want but -Ities in general.

    2. 0
      Sara '12 says:

      Sometimes, the law doesn’t do enough and we have principles that fill in the gaps.

      In this case, even if Title IX means that a sorority must be allowed if it’s wanted, the fact that anyone who does not neatly fit into the gender binary will be necessarily excluded must be addressed and accounted for.

      Honestly, how feasible is it to have a different “ity” for every single gender identification? Instead of creating a divisive framework, why not arrange such groups around interests or prospective professions, etc.?

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