As we look back at this year, one thing I notice is the focus on Greek Life. All of the focus on Greek Life problems got me thinking: Greek Life is very good at getting rather uninvolved students to participate.
They have it narrowed down to a fine art. From the kinds of events to have, to what to say and how to present. Perhaps we can all use some of these tactics.
In trying to recruit participants for any number of things, it seems that we could learn a thing or two from Greek Life. We were upset over expensive coffee, but did little to fight back. We learned of a shady law dean coming back and did nothing. We had to put up with the Tinkham Veale University Center. All of these things are rightfully upsetting. If we had thrown, say, a “Starbucks Price Gouging” bean bag toss with food, could we have mobilized? A “Dean Mitchell Damage,” where we take hammers to cars while protesting sexual assault and shady hiring practices? A “Veal Against Tinkham Veale” cookout to point out how underwhelming TVUC is? And yes, I didn’t make the easy joke there.
These events sound rather absurd upon first blush, but we were all aware of our collective angst over them. However, a collective mobilization is what we fell short of. Yet Greek Life, despite its problematic elements, can still effectively gather new followers and mobilize existing ones. How?
Greek Life can create a sense of belonging, first and foremost. I believe that many others and I feel alienated at CWRU. Greek Life organizations overcome this by creating community that is elsewhere absent. They also continuously reinforce this with repeated events, reinforced messages and constant checking in. To the newcomer, it feels like a sudden influx of like-minded others and something greater than themselves to contribute to. To the already initiated, it can feel like home.
Full disclosure: I am not involved in Greek Life. These are only the musings of an outside observer. But clearly something is going right for Greeks. If CWRU at large can learn some of Greek Life’s lessons, then perhaps we can all become more engaged with both the campus around us and the city of Cleveland. For now, we have much to learn even after we are finished cramming for finals.
Zak Khan doesn’t even go here anymore, but they have a lot of feelings and angry barking.