And it follows, as the night the day, that the Insanity of Regressive Leftism continues apace in American colleges. This time it’s at the University of California at Merced, which, as The College Fix (a right-wing site, of course) reports, is in a kerfuffle about the fraternity and sorority system.
If you’re not familiar with this, fraternities and sororities are single-sex social organizations in U.S. colleges that often have housing for members, and participate in parties, various charity drives, and generally serve as a nucleus for the social life of their members. They’re all named with two or three three Greek letters (e.g. ΛΛΛ, ΦKT, etc.), and are selective: first-year students “rush”, by visiting various fraternity or sorority houses during “rush week” and trying to impress the members, called “Greeks”. Likewise, the frats and sororities try to impress the more desirable students (read: athletes and attractive people) and then, in an age-old ritual that has traumatized millions, the Greeks slowly whittles down the list of those they want to join their group. First-years visit the fraternities who still want them several times until the final choice is made. Those students who join are called “pledges”.
And, of course, some frats and sororities are more prestigious than others: there are “jock houses” for the popular athletes, houses for the most beautiful women, houses for the studious, and so on. When my dad went to Penn State in the 1930’s, there were three all-Jewish fraternities, and Jews couldn’t join any of the other forty-odd ones (his was Beta Sigma Rho). It’s a divisive and snobbish system, and I refused to “rush” when I went to college. But in many isolated colleges, fraternities provide the only kind of organized social life around, including their infamous parties.
At any rate, it’s all called the Greek system. At least it was called the Greek system at UC Merced, until a branch of the student government decided that using the word “Greek” was a form of cultural appropriation, and set out some new language rules. As The Fix reports:
Students involved in a fraternity or sorority at the University of California Merced have been instructed not to use the terms “Greek,” “rush” or “pledge” because they are “appropriating Greek culture” and are “non-inclusive,” several students told The College Fix. [JAC: I don’t think any Greek people objected here, and certainly “rush” and “pledge” are not Greek words or terms.]
In particular, they’ve been told:
Replace “Greek Life” with “Fraternity and Sorority Life”
Replace “rush” with “recruitment”
Replace “pledge” with “potential new member”
These changes have been going on for four years:
The word “rush” was last used in the 2011-2012 academic year. Its use was prohibited because it “promoted a negative stereotype of fraternities and sororities.” The word “pledge” was last used in 2012 because it is considered “a form of hazing.”
What’s bizarre about this, besides the stupid “cultural appropriation” excuse, is that nothing will change except the language, and, frankly, I don’t think “rush” or “pledge” were invidious. Yes, there was hazing, and sometimes it was quite bad (some students died, for instance, because they were forced to drink copious amounts of booze), but changing the language won’t fix that. If they want to repair those aspects of fraternity culture that are harmful (sororities are rarely accused of bad behavior), they have to institute structural change, not linguistic change. Frankly, I see the whole Greek system as analogous to religions in their intra-Greek comity but inter-Greek divisiveness, and the way that non-Greeks are seen as apostates; and I’d just as lief be rid of the whole mess.