Cult Life at UConn
Earlier this week, an article was posted in the Daily Campus, UConn’s campus newspaper, comparing Greek life to a cult. This was in response to a hazing incident that made the news last weekend and has resulted in the suspension of one Fraternity and one Sorority on campus. This news has created a massive stir in the UConn community. There has been a backlash against Greek life, which has led some Greeks to speak out to defend themselves, which only escalates the witch hunt on campus right now. This recent article has only added fuel to the fire.
The Daily Campus has received a wave of feedback criticizing and condemning the article for being a slanderous, uninformed, and just flat-out wrong piece of journalism based on minimal research. I will say though, that it is wrong to blame the paper. The article was part of the commentary section, an opinion piece. However, biased and uninformed his opinion is, the dude’s got every right to voice it. The Daily Campus has posted plenty of articles about how impressive Greek life is and all the great philanthropic and charitable efforts that UConn Greeks have done over the past few semesters. So clearly, the paper is not a biased source, just this author. The Daily Campus SHOULD be printing stuff from every point of view.
As far as this guy’s article, I personally was pretty butt hurt about it. It compares UConn’s Greek life, and all Greek life in general, to a cult and lists a number of different criteria for what qualifies a cult and how Greek life fits that mold. I’m a little confused how exactly one can come to that conclusion when he has not participated in Greek life and doesn’t actually know how it operates. I will admit though, it’s hard to actually take this thing seriously. I mean the guy’s source for all this is an article about Greek life and hazing at another school (nothing to do with UConn) from fucking COSMOPOLITAN magazine! Right away, all this article’s credibility is out the window.
I’ve never been in a cult, so I really can’t say what being in a cult is like, but I have been in Greek life for years now and I’ve got a pretty good handle on what it’s like. Let’s take a look at a few examples from his article shall we?
- Right off the bat here is his first example: “one quality of a cult is that ‘the group displays excessively zealous or unquestioning commitment to its leader’. Although most Greek organizations have more than one leader, their orders are almost invariably followed without question out of fear of rejection or worse.” Having actually been one of the executive members of my chapter I can call bullshit on this one. I’ve learned that the word “mandatory” in Greek life means about jack shit. Trying to get 100% of your chapter to do anything is like pulling teeth out of a fucking tiger’s mouth. I can tell you that some leadership in Greek life is pretty far from unquestionable.
- Here’s the next one: “The ICSA notes that in cults, ‘the leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure.’ Fraternities certainly use peer pressure to force recruits to perform embarrassing or even dangerous tasks ‘for the organization.” Oh yeah peer pressure is our main tool to get people to sign up for stuff like Huskython, philanthropies, community service events and log study hours in the library. Ya know, for the organization.
- ” In a Cosmopolitan article, former sorority member Tess Koman writes that from the time she pledged, she was “made to feel pretty terrible about any activity I was doing that wasn’t sorority-related.” Going to a family member’s funeral? Better be Sorority related! I like to use the old “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed” line for this one.
- “One more quality of cults is that “members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.” Many fraternities and sororities at UConn have their own residence halls in Husky Village, and most of the ones that do definitely encourage or even require members to live there, rather than in traditional residence halls with friends from outside the organization” Fun fact: Some majors such as Nursing have their own communities where they are encourages to live with and socialize with other members. Also my chapter, along with several others, don’t even have houses in Husky Village. I for one live in an apartment with one other member and two guys who aren’t affiliated.
So clearly this is some Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism here. While the facts presented in his article are in no way shape or form true, the guy still has as much right to voice his opinion as I do mine. I might disagree with what he has to say, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to say it. I’d like to end my article with this. It’s a quote from a biography about Voltaire, ”I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my cult and drink some Kool-Aid.
Here’s the article in question: http://www.dailycampus.com/commentary/how-fraternities-and-sororities-operate-needs-to-be-reformed-1.3150476#.UyNqYEJdUeZ