As of November 15, 2012, all Greek organizations have been suspended at Chico State.
Truthfully, I can’t say that I’m surprised.
When I first started working for The Orion in 2009 as a news reporter, I was assigned to cover the Greeks on campus. I had lived in Modesto for years before moving to Chico, so I didn’t come in with the preconceptions about the Greek system that other students did. I saw the assignment as just another job to do along with my other reporting duties, and didn’t understand why the other reporters looked sideways at each other when I volunteered for the assignment. It was that or covering the Academic Senate–and I had sat in enough of those meetings at Modesto Junior College to last me a lifetime.
Covering the fraternities and sororities at Chico State became one of the most frustrating experiences for me personally as a student journalist, though. Initially, I stood up for the Greeks at staff meetings. I pitched stories regarding their community service and went out of my way to interview many members, not just the ones who popped up on the police blotter.
By the end of the semester all I wanted to do was, in the immortal words of Al Pacino’s character in Scent of a Woman, take a flamethrower to the place. It culminated with being thrown out of the Greek council for being a member of the Orion staff–not for something I wrote. The presidents then sent me an e-mail stating that the Greeks would no longer talk to Orion reporters because of “Misrepresentation of facts, quotes that do not accurately represent our Greek Community, headlines that are sensational and do not accurately reflect what is currently happening in the Greek Community and positive articles about our Greek Community countered by negative articles in the same issue.”
They did, however, state that “representatives of the respective councils will submit a written weekly update to the appropriate editor/reporter” which they expected us to print. How thoughtful of them.
In the time I spent covering them, the pattern became clear: if something looks bad for the Greeks, it must be someone else’s fault. Alcohol poisoning? Everyone else in Chico does it. Hazing? People are picking on us because we’re Greeks. Give a quote that makes someone look bad? The reporter shouldn’t have printed it–they’re out to get us. Stupid behavior in general? Point the finger somewhere else.
If you say that your motto, “Letters today, leaders tomorrow,” exemplifies your commitment to your pillars of distinction and university mission and values, you need to live up to that promise. Nobody expects great behavior from Joe Schmoe on a Friday night, who only went to college because his parents paid for it. He’s not holding himself out to be a cut above everyone else; he just wants to survive his classes and have another shot of tequila.
But when you claim to be of a higher quality than the typical college student, you have to back that up not just with good deeds but with an absence of bad ones as well. The Greeks want the benefits and the acclaim, but not the responsibility. If you’re part of an organization, you bear both the good and bad of what it does.
The Greeks’ record stands for itself. Conspiracy theories and willful ignorance just won’t work anymore.
It’s time to reboot the system.