O’Keeffe: The pushes and pulls of Greek Week

I love Greek Week.

As a retired three-sport high school athlete, I miss the regular competition of yesteryear. The healthy competition that Greek Week is structured upon makes it one of my favorite and most anticipated weeks of the year. The week fosters bonds between members, forms chapter-to-chapter ties and brings together the the entire Greek community.

However, we, as a community, must actively and critically reflect upon ourselves to identify our weaknesses and continue to develop our strengths.

The greatest strength of the Greek community is the fantastic enthusiasm and spirit on display during Greek Week. The excitement is palpable as hundreds of people pack the stands of the Veale Natatorium or crowd Freiberger Field. The week captures the pride members take in their organizations, fellow members and the community they chose to become a part of.

This pride and enthusiasm needs to be stronger within our Case Western Reserve University community.  Our campus isn’t exactly brimming with school spirit, and any efforts to create hype about our school are quickly overwhelmed by complaints about Bon Appétit and Case Wireless.

The Greek community should extend their pride beyond Greek Week, and combined with non-affiliated students, strive to create campus pride that goes beyond a solidarity that we are all “sCWRUed” together. We can transition to a more positive campus personality by regularly attending sporting events, concerts, plays and competitions our peers participate in.

Of course, there is the infamous skit that has been broadcasted on local news and has dominated the content of Yik Yak. I tend to agree with the thoughtful, well-articulated emails from the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative and the presidents of the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Congress and our own university. I am more concerned by the frighteningly disrespectful backlash that ensued rather than the skit itself, which was not intended to be offensive.

Rather than post oddly malicious yet simultaneously ludicrous accounts of Variety Show and the unfolding events behind the anonymous veil of Yik Yak, the student body should call each other into a constructive dialogue.

This event can provide an educational opportunity above and beyond the scope of any classroom: Microaggressions and cultural appropriation are complicated concepts that are not always founded in maliciousness. The skit was lighthearted in its intent, as far as I know. But we must continuously work to increase our understanding, respect and unity within our campus community.

I hope that irrelevant of Greek affiliation, we move forward together and strive to listen more than we speak. It is especially important for non-minority students, such as those who are white, middle class like myself, to actively listen. It is not my position to dictate this conversation, as I have not experienced our country or campus as a Latino student and therefore cannot and should not defensively discredit the opinions, experiences and feelings of Latino students at CWRU.

Greek Week 2016 certainly will be one to remember for years to come. The sorority rope pull final will go down in lore. Hopefully our Greek pride will transform into true CWRU school spirit. As events in response to the skit unfold, we should all take a moment to understand concepts such as cultural appropriation.

We should all reflect on the importance of respect, unity and diversity in each of our lives.

Heather O’Keeffe is a fourth-year student majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in sports medicine. She would like to not be reminded that graduation is less than a month away.