Letter to the Editor: Oft-blamed Greek Life an asset to community

From the wise words of our president-elect, Barack Obama, “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.” I agree whole-heartedly with Obama when he claims that those lucky enough to be presented with the ability to institute change must listen and accept that it may be no easy task to do so. Unfortunately, I believe Kyle Battaglia [Focus university policy on academic needs, not Greek Life; Nov. 7] and a portion of the student body have been poorly mistaken regarding change here at Rider, primarily with the actions of the Greeks. Though Greeks have been given the opportunity to salvage a once-tarnished reputation and have been responsive to change, it is the vast majority of Rider’s student body, and even some administrators, who have yet to accept the chance for change, rather than the transformation itself.

As the chapter President of Alpha Xi Delta (AXD) here at Rider, I have lived by the saying “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I am here to address not only Battaglia, but also the campus, when I say that the Greeks have been engulfed in heat for far too long now, but we are not planning on going anywhere. Unfortunately, fingers have been pointed at Greeks since the tragic death of Gary DeVercelly Jr., but it is time that the uninformed become informed and those who are too judgmental and ignorant hear the facts before they point fingers, and know the story before they, too, are judged. The actions of few have defined the perceptions of many, and for that we have not been given a fair chance. Greek Life has changed immensely at Rider over the past couple of years and it is impossible to erase any pessimistic views when it is too loud for us to be heard over the accusations and childish badmouthing of others.

Greek Life at Rider has not been eliminated because of the fact that Greeks have been and will remain an asset to Rider’s campus in uncountable ways. The women from AXD, as well as members of other fraternities and sororities on campus, are held to strict academic standards in order to maintain and foster an environment that prides itself in academic achievement. If members fall below a specific GPA, they oftentimes lose membership. In my chapter alone, every single individual is involved, if not holding an executive position, in at least one other club or organization on campus. Most of Rider’s leaders are Greek. It’s funny how students are quick to associate misbehaving students with Greeks, but if you’ve looked in the police blotter you’ll see that the majority of this year’s DUIs and hospitalizations are unaffiliated students. Why is it that the few mistakes made by Greek students never fail to be highlighted, but the poor actions of those who hold membership in less negatively publicized clubs and organizations are never spoken of?

Despite popular belief, people do take personal responsibility for their actions, which also accounts for the reason why two fraternities are no longer acknowledged by Rider (but for some odd reason their Greek letters are still appearing next to their names in the papers). When people focus on the negative actions of the past, it’s no wonder why some fail to notice all of the positive things that are happening now. Just in AXD alone over the past year, our women have held prestigious internships with Fortune 500 companies, earned titles of Cranberry Queen and Princess, been named Rider Scholars (top 1 percent of class), raised over $1,000 for children in need, and contributed to and participated in countless other philanthropic fundraisers. This is just one Greek organization.

Amongst many other things, Greek Life helps women and men develop intellect, values, leadership, relationships and citizenship. Greeks have made tremendous contributions not only at Rider, but in all of the college communities of which they are a part. This may be why approximately 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives are Greek men and women, and of the nation’s largest 50 corporations, fraternity men head 43 of them. So I challenge you, Rider, to find that “beer-soaked flier announcing another keg party,” and bring it to me because I have seen no such thing in my three and a half years here as a student. And thanks to Greek Life, by the time you find it, I should not be difficult to locate. I’ll probably be your boss at a Fortune 500 company.

Katie Oldenburg
Class of 2009

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