Campus paper urges students to abandon greek life because of gender discrimination
Last Thursday, an editor at The GW Hatchet urged George Washington University (GW) students not to join Greek life because of its lack of “gender diversity.”
Robin Jones Kerr, a senior at GW, cautioned interested students to, “[k]eep in mind the many disadvantages of dividing your GW experience along gender lines.”
"As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to join Girl Scouts, and my brother couldn’t be a Boy Scout. In fact, neither of us participated in any single-sex organization during grade school because my parents refused to support groups that discriminated based on sex."
Kerr argued that single-sex organizations are non-diverse and do not expose students to a variance of opinions, even going so far as to say that sororities and fraternities “insulate” students from different ways of thinking.
She suggested instead that students should join organizations that do not make gender a prerequisite.
“Greek life teaches you to form deep, long-lasting relationships with members of your chapter – to form a ‘sisterhood’ or ‘brotherhood,’” she said. “You should be able to make these same types of meaningful connections with people of a different sex.”
Kerr claims that, because students are supposed to graduate as “more socially conscious [people],” it “doesn’t make sense” for freshmen to join sororities and fraternities based of their alleged lack of diversity.
“As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to join Girl Scouts, and my brother couldn’t be a Boy Scout,” Kerr wrote. “In fact, neither of us participated in any single-sex organization during grade school because my parents refused to support groups that discriminated based on sex.”
Kerr’s pleas may have fallen on deaf ears. Jamie Lichay, a senior and vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Association at GW, told Campus Reform that more GW girls signed up to rush Greek life this fall than ever before.
“Single-sex Greek organizations offer students an opportunity to form the unique bonds that come with sisterhood and brotherhood,” Lichay told Campus Reform. “The people who join are specifically looking for brotherhood and sisterhood. They are not limited to these bonds, which is why Greek Life members are involved in many student organizations outside of Greek Life.”
For years, many feminists have argued that single-sex Greek life is discriminatory. When the issue was raised at Carnegie Mellon University, their coordinator of Greek life defended the system, saying, “[h]istorically, Greek life has been about groups coming together saying ‘we need a social outlet....’ Men started fraternities and then women wanted that opportunity too. Keeping fraternities and sororities same-sex benefits everyone because women can talk about issues as they relate to women and vice versa with men.”
During a similar debate at Harvard in 2011, an editorial writer at The Crimson, Harvard’s official student newspaper, argued that “[s]hared experience and worldviews, combined with the absence of competition over the opposite sex, create a unique and more comfortable dynamic optimal for building relationships.”
“Just as single-sex sports discriminate based upon gender to ensure fair competition, Greek organizations do the same to promote friendship,” the Harvard editorialist wrote.
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