Sep 142011
Authors: James Stewart

The opinion section of a given newspaper is as close to a living, breathing embodiment of the First Amendment as is readily available. Freedom of speech finds a cozy home to live and breathe away from the confines of the front page, and allows writers to spill their guts completely. But sometimes, opinion pieces can cross the line into the realm of misinformed slander. Such is the case with Morgan Mayo’s article regarding Greek Life yesterday entitled, “Let’s not ‘rush’ away’ from the herd.”

If you were fortunate enough to have missed this article in your rush to RamTalk and the crossword, allow me to summarize.

Imagine every negative binge drinking, hazing, chauvinist and elitist fraternity or sorority scene from “Old School”, “Animal House”, “Van Wilder” and the like, and compress them into 700 words.

Essentially this is what Ms. Mayo has done in her article. This is not to say the article was poorly researched; it must have taken her hours to watch those movies.

As a recent graduate of Colorado State, and of the Greek system here, it would be entirely too easy for me to be outraged or defensive in response to Ms. Mayo’s opinions. In fact, many of my fellow Greeks took to Facebook, Twitter and the Collegian’s website to do just that. But instead, I would like to counter her article by challenging all of you to do just as she says: don’t fall into the herd.

You see, Ms. Mayo has done exactly what she has warned against; she has fallen into the herd of people who believe nothing more about a group of people than what popular media has shown her.

The mythos surrounding Greek Life is so steeped in negativity that many, such as Mayo, are tempted to take it at face value. How are her assumptions and labeling of Greeks here at CSU any different than assuming all Asians are good at math, or all Muslims are terrorists?

Don’t get me wrong, Greeks are still college students in addition to being human beings, so every day isn’t always defined by models of good behavior. I admit that I am no stranger to a good time, and neither are my fellow Greeks.

I also feel obligated to say that I didn’t always get along with my brothers, and there were several times when I found the “peppy girl handing out rush fliers at 8 a.m.” just as terrifying as you do, Ms. Mayo. There have been times, although very few, when I have seen Greeks display behavior fitting of a zoo animal. But take a look at a certain YouTube video of a certain pool party (Did you attend, Ms. Mayo?), and I think it is fair to say that that behavior is not limited to Greek college students.

This being said, as a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon I also saw the very best of college students.

I’ve seen a group of brothers pitch their beer money for the weekend together to buy a local family Christmas presents when medical expenses prevented the parents from being able to do so.

I have seen rival fraternities come together in solidarity to support a group of grieving brothers after the tragic death of Devon Arnold last year. You must have missed that whilst committing petty theft from the Kate Kennedys, Ms. Mayo.

And you know what?

I even managed to see some Greeks excelling in the classroom from time to time.

More than anything else, Colorado State University is most valuable to those who allow themselves to experience it. That means taking risks, trying new things and being open minded about the things people choose to do.

So, in closing, I encourage all of you reading this, from new students to fifth-year seniors and beyond to remember that the Opinion section of this or any newspaper should not be taken as gospel.

Ms. Mayo and I have every right to share our opinions with the world. In this case, however, I hope that the many of you choose to ignore the stereotypes and slander and find out about the Greeks yourself. Love them or hate them, at least it will be your opinion.

James Stuart is a CSU alumnus.

For a response to Stuart’s column look here

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