I don’t think it is any secret that the Carnegie Mellon Greek community has come under a lot of duress lately. Individual circumstances and bad decisions have naturally led some in the campus community to question whether a Greek system does more good than harm.
From my own familiarity with the quad, Greek life is such a valuable part of the student experience that it is hard to imagine Carnegie Mellon without it. When I was a first-year and considering which house to join, I picked Kappa Delta Rho because of the relationships that I had made with the brothers throughout Orientation week and their fall and spring rush. As I pledged in the spring semester, I learned the value of service and philanthropy, and the importance of facilitating a social scene at Carnegie Mellon — something that is not always easy to find. Though we had a disappointing spring 2007 competing in Booth, Buggy, and Greek Sing, my brothers and I learned a valuable lesson from our own failures. The following year, we worked together and performed much better, with notable second-place performances in Booth and Greek Sing. And finally, last spring we won Booth, won Greek Sing with Kappa Alpha Theta, had our second-best time ever as a house in Buggy, and — most important of all — led fraternities with 16 hours of community service per brother.
Last spring, I also decided to run for student body vice president. My biggest supporters were my brothers, and without them I would not have had this year’s tremendous experience in service to the campus. Near the end of the spring semester, bad decisions by the fraternity as a whole led to our being removed from campus. Obviously it was difficult to experience the volatile ups and downs of last spring, but what made me feel worst was knowing that future students would be deprived of the experiences that I had at KDR.
Good risk management is key for students partaking in the Greek system. However, it has gotten to the point where nearly all Greek students engage in practices of hiding risk rather than managing risk, and that is a fault of the individual houses, Interfraternity Council, and the Greek community as a whole. Under the current risk management structure of our Greek Quad, risk management authorities are pressured to hide risk rather than manage it because of unrealistic standards of acceptable risk. The circumstances resemble enforcing Prohibition in the 1920s, and the lengths to which speakeasies would go to not get caught. Despite these faults of the Greek system, it is built on strong merits, and members of the community should look to these merits when making decisions that affect their safety and the safety of those around them.