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It was about three weeks ago. My boyfriend and I were walking hand-in-hand through the gates of a fraternity party. We were almost through the doors when he got ripped back by a security guard and sternly told he was not allowed in. My boyfriend talked a little shit, never threatening the man, and within less than a minute, the guard took out his pepper spray. Big, tough guy. He got right up in my boyfriend’s face, no more than two inches away, and unleashed the destructive liquid into his eyes. Sudden blindness. Immediate confusion. Distressed shrieks of pain. It all happened so fast.
Fraternities, by default, are exclusive organizations — that’s the foundation and the appeal. Fraternities here at CU Boulder engage and breed a certain type of person. They are a “brotherhood” held together by social status and entitlement.
Of course, everybody wants to fit in and be a part of something. It’s human nature. But I’ve noticed that the people I gravitate towards are the ones who share a common passion: alpine club, snowboard club, skydive club, etc. These groups consist of like-minded people congregating to immerse themselves in a communal sentiment. If you ski, you can join the ski club. You don’t need to be the best skier, or the best looking skier or the most masculine skier; you just need to have an interest in skiing.
Living in the incredibly large and developing state of Colorado gives us innumerable opportunities for adventure and exploration of social identity. Fraternities, on the other hand, stand for nothing but exclusion.
If you are this, this, this and this, you can join our club. Our brotherhood. All the rest of you, sorry, but you didn’t make the cut. The basis is competition and comparison.
Fraternities have left people out to dry based on race, sexuality, class — look at the University of Oklahoma SAE incident where fraternity brothers outright pledged that “there will never be a nigger in SAE.” Arrogance. Narcissism. Rejection. Segregation. It’s the 21st century, boys.
Or, look the fact that the results of a study conducted at a university in the Southeastern United States reveal that stereotypically feminine men — regardless of sexual orientation — were less likely to get bids from fraternities.
Fraternities add to to the already huge expense of college, which isolates the wealthy from the less well-off. For example, Greek life at Boulder’s Sigma Nu chapter costs roughly $1,200 per year. On top of that, most sororities and fraternities require at least one year of living on the group’s property. This averages about another $1,600 per month.
It is important to understand the infrastructure of how fraternities originally gained popularity. Many fraternities emerged, or became more exclusive, after the Civil War. They were a way for white, Christian men to separate themselves from an increasingly diverse student population. Has America has progressed as a society and a nation since that era? Yes. But with organizations in Greek life that haze members and test them on their founders, that put so much stress on their history and their foundation, it is no surprise that they have stuck to their roots: wealth, whiteness and masculinity.
So, if you are not white enough and straight enough to join the clique, then you can’t come to any of the parties either. Who does that leave to make the parties more than just a gathering of brothers? Girls. Girls, girls, girls. Think about this for a minute. Fraternity brothers are set with all the friends they could ever need once they get that bid. Thus we disclose the true purpose of the illustrious frat party: to meet chicks.
As a freshman, I spent a lot of Saturday nights dancing with my friends and getting loose and sweaty in fraternity basements. I didn’t have any older friends who threw house parties, and freshman girls definitely want to party (the ones I hung out with, anyway). The second I’d walk in, I felt like a piece of meat. Just bait for the frat bros. And that’s not fun for anyone — that’s just straight up creepy. After these experiences, I avoid these parties at all costs.
At a lot of schools, Greek life is the best and sometimes only way to have a social life. That is certainly great and lovely, but here at CU, there is so much more to take part in. This is not to say every boy involved with a frat is a racist, sexist pig. But why, as a whole, as a nationwide coalition, does college nightlife necessitate such segregation? Why does it need such cruelty?
When innocent guys get rejected from parties just because they’re dudes, and are physically harmed just to dig in the fact that they are not welcome, something isn’t right. Not only are men who actively want to join the club disrespected, belittled and hazed, but men that don’t choose to identify with the club and who merely want to partake in the same fun that girls are offered are welcomed at their own risk. Group dependence to feel empowered is a deeply rooted problem within society. So is exclusivity. And fraternities do not push these issues in the right direction.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Columnist Julia Spadaro at firstname.lastname@example.org.