I read Adrianne Ramsey’s recent Op-Ed with interest, but I disagreed with the conclusions drawn.
From October of freshman year onward, Sarah Lawrence’s anemic social scene has been a running joke on campus. While I care about solving that as much as the next disillusioned second-semester freshman, I do not think introducing Greek life, or something bearing a very suspicious resemblance to it, would be the right move.
Do not get me wrong: I do not think every sorority and frat house in the U.S. needs to be shuttered. If other people at other schools want to go through bizarre hazing rituals so that they can earn the great privilege of going to theme parties, wearing matching sweatpants, and getting into extended legal battles with insurance companies, that is their business. Those are their lives and their livers. While I have heard plenty of horror stories—who has not?— about corruption and fatality in frat houses, that is not why I’m against bringing the party to Sarah Lawrence.
I’m against bringing Greek life to Sarah Lawrence because you can find it at almost any other college in the U.S. I did not come to Sarah Lawrence to have a generic college experience. It bothers me when I hear classmates complaining about the “hipsters” and “weirdoes” here. Enrolling at Sarah Lawrence and complaining about all the weirdoes is like buying a Mini Cooper and expecting a tank. Just like many neighborhoods function as ethnic and religious enclaves, many colleges function as social and political enclaves. And that is exactly as it should be.
If you find that Sarah Lawrence is the wrong enclave for you, you do not need to suffer. Brown, Wesleyan, Kenyon, Occidental, Pomona, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, Colgate, Hamilton, Trinity, Davidson, Washington and Lee, Muhlenberg, Lafayette, Whitman, Union, and Franklin and Marshall all offer both a liberal arts education and the opportunity to go Greek. Middlebury and Amherst have frats as well, albeit underground ones. Even Pratt has a sorority. Many of these schools will be accepting transfer applications through mid-May, so why not? I am not saying this to be unwelcoming or dismissive; I am saying this because it might be practical advice for people who find Sarah Lawrence’s social scene to be more trouble than it is worth.
The argument that Sarah Lawrence students are being excessively “judgmental” is not completely unfounded, but it holds a little less water when you remember that the real world is one big frat. Eventually, we’ll all have to graduate and face that fact. In the meantime, why torture ourselves? At the overwhelming majority of U.S. colleges and universities, students can find their enclaves on Greek row. Here, at Sarah Lawrence, we have chosen to be part of a different sort of enclave. We have a right to that.
by Rebecca Unger '17
photos by Ellie Brumbaum '17