The Term “Greek Life” Is Considered Cultural Appropriation At UC Merced

UC Merced

Every day, it seems that our way of (Greek) life is under attack. Chapters are closed or placed on probation, and issues that are widespread on college campuses are unfairly attributed to our groups. It’s sad that we are almost used to it by now — so much so, that when I read something along this vein, I don’t even get outraged. I’m instead just resigned. But when I read that the University of California Merced was waging war on the word “Greek” in fraternity and sorority land, even a hardened skeptic such as myself had to stop and go “what the fuck?”

In recent years, the university has decided that classic words associated with Greek Life, such as pledge, rush, and Greek itself, were inappropriate and has started to use other, more politically correct terms. Rush hasn’t been used in four years, and Greek Week is now known as “Fraternity & Sorority Life Week.” Steve Lerer, the assistant director of student government and leadership development from the UC Merced Fraternity and Sorority Life division, told The College Fix,

UC Merced Fraternity and Sorority Life recommends the use of the terms ‘Fraternity and Sorority Life,’ ‘Potential New Member’ and ‘Recruitment’ by fraternities and sororities on campus. This recommendation is based on national trends and the inclusive language choices that have been made at many other campuses and national organizations. While our staff members in Fraternity and Sorority Life choose to use these terms and recommend their use to the local chapters, there is no formal requirement in place for their use.

I get why we had to get rid of the word pledge, really I do. There were a lot of bad connotations (both fair and unfair) around that on particular word, so it was better for all of us to just ditch it and go with potential new member (or PNM for short). I was a little less clear on why we went from “rush” to “recruitment,” but frankly, I always thought rush sounded kind of stupid, so I was alright with getting on board with that one. But “Greek”? Really? What’s the problem with Greek?

Well, according to the article, a former member of the Fraternity & Sorority Council at the school (who asked to remain anonymous because he didn’t want to run the risk of his chapter to be punished) said that Fraternity and Sorority Life staff coordinator Richard Arquette told students last fall that using Greek Life is “appropriating of Greek culture, perpetuated bad stereotypes, and not an inclusive term.”

Seriously? Of course it’s not an inclusive term — we are exclusive, member-only organizations. And has this guy forgotten that the entire basis of fraternities and sororities is actually Greek culture? Our names, our rituals…all of it. What next? Are you going to ask us to change our organization’s names from Greek letters? Change all of our ceremonies so we don’t reference any Greek gods?

While Adler said there is no “requirement” around the word Greek, the anonymous student quoted in the column said it sure seemed like one as far as Arquette was concerned, saying,

He instructed us several times over the course of the year, in [Fraternity & Sorority Council] meetings, one-on-ones, in casual conversations when we said those words — even if we just slipped up in the terminology we chose. And we even held meetings dedicated to the use of the term ‘Greek’ that went nowhere. It was both a strong suggestion for individual use, but also a requirement for the organizations themselves.

You want to call your office the one of “Fraternity and Sorority Life,” Mr. Arquette? Fine. I suppose that makes it easier for the uninitiated to know what it is you actually do. But if you don’t mind, we’ll keep calling it Greek Life because we’re actually proud of our founding heritage. But thanks anyway.

[via The College Fix]

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Jenna Crowley

Jenna used to be known as 2NOTBrokeGirls, but then one of the girls actually went broke, so she's struck out on her own. Jenna spends her free time saving the world, one sorority girl at a time (usually while wearing yoga pants), questioning why she decided to get a doctorate, and documenting her love of all things cheese related. You can ask her anything you want about football, using your boobs to get what you want, and pizza at @JennaLCrowley on Twitter or via email at [email protected].

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