Students received an email last week from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord that discouraged them from joining Greek life. They reminded students that social sororities and fraternities are not representative of Georgetown’s deeply rooted Catholic traditions — for this reason, the administration does not openly or financially support us. As a member of a sorority, I don’t see a problem with that; the administration has the right to abide by its Catholic tradition.
What completely appalls me is the blatant hypocrisy of Olson and Lord’s next statement: “Student organizations at Georgetown are expected to comply with a standard of open membership, one which contributes to building the inclusive and welcoming student community at the heart of the Georgetown experience.”
Do we go to the same school? One of my roommates just received her third e-mail rejection from Hilltop Consultants, another her second denials from the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund, Students of Georgetown, Inc. and the Student Advocacy Office. My last roommate, during the four-minute walk between an audition at the Gonda Theater and our apartment, already had a “we regret to inform you…” email stewing in her inbox. As for me, my first semester I was denied from a medical volunteer program. I have been (so far) rejected from Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society twice, my best friend, three times. In fact, the members of Blue & Gray were recently told, by representatives of the administration in the admissions department no less, that their organization is twice as hard to get into as Georgetown itself. Is this the “standard of open membership” to which Olson and Lord are referring?
Just for the sake of comparison, in the sorority recruitment process of spring 2015 (which required zero essays for admission, as opposed to Georgetown’s usual standard of five to seven), 100 percent of girls that completed the process received a bid. Every. Single. Girl. I do not have the statistics for our fraternities, but I can’t imagine that at a school with such minimal Greek life the numbers are so different. And as for “engaging actively with other students” and our community, each member has 20 mandated service hours a year in addition to weekly study sessions and incentives for good grades. We are hardly the terrible influence we are made out to be.
I do not mean to attack the exclusivity of the extracurriculars here at Georgetown. On the contrary, I think it is a realistic microcosm of what we will encounter in the “real” world in terms of graduate schooling and jobs. I also do not at all disagree with the administration’s unyielding attachment to its Jesuit identity. But when the sole supportive, nourishing niche I have found as home on the Hilltop is falsely advertised as restrictive and unwelcoming, I am strongly offended. Most students at Georgetown face a strikingly large and frequent amount of rejection. We are nerds and bookworms used to straight A-pluses dealing with our first C’s. We are class presidents and activity leaders being turned away probably for the first time from being volunteers, coffee shop baristas or even general body members of clubs. We are nervous peers watching our classmates do more, do better, wondering if we can spend any extra time on another internship. I’m 19 years old and I’m already applying to medical school. We need a break.
The Georgetown administration is not immune to these facts. We continuously beat our Ivy League counterparts on lists of the most stressful schools (eighth in a ranking published by Newsweek). That is why I am surprised that it has chosen to attack one of the few communities on campus that, even if temporarily, relieves such pressure with distinctive inclusivity. My sisters are the shoulders I cry on when I bomb an exam. They are the glasses I share a toast with when I do get into another organization. They are my roommates. They are my friends. They are my Hoya family.
So in response to Dr. Olson and Dr. Lord, I ardently encourage Georgetown to go Greek.
Danielle Zamalin is a sophomore in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.