Garrison: To Greeks from a Greek

Zac Garrison Senior from Franklin, Ky.

Greek life means everything to me. I remember moving into Hart Residential College in August my freshman year and having to dodge what seemed like hundreds of guys in letter shirts and neoprene sunglass straps who were trying to help me move my stuff into my room.

All I had heard about Greek life up until then was what the media had told me, which had left a bad taste in my mouth. I was eventually talked into coming out to Rush Week and told myself, “I’m not going to rush, I’m just going to eat all their free food and ignore them.” I’ve never been so wrong in my life.

I ended up rushing Phi Kappa Tau my fall semester of my freshman year and never looked back. Some of my best memories and closest friends have come from my fraternity and Greek experience at Murray state.

To be completely honest, I have no idea what it’s like to be in college and not be in a Greek organization.

I stay fairly involved in Greek life at Murray State. I’m Phi Tau’s president; I sat as a delegate for the Interfraternity council for 1.5 years, and eventually took over as the Assistant Recruitment Chair for the Executive Council of IFC.

This being said, very few people can argue against my love and enthusiasm for the Greek community at Murray State.

Murray State’s Greek community is one of the best in the nation, in my opinion.

We have several chapters which have won national awards for improvement and community service as well as a few chapters voted as the best chapter in the nation in their respective organizations.

Think about that, the best chapters nation-wide are located at Murray State. That’s definitely something to brag about. However, there is a problem plaguing the Greek community here.

The Greek community as a whole takes any kind of criticism much too personally.

I see it often on Facebook and in the media; Greeks lashing out against non-greeks whenever an unkind word or misconstrued fact is brought into play.

I have read many arguments for and against the reasons to get involved in Greek life and the fact of the matter is, it’s certainly not something for everyone.

Anytime someone who is non-Greek offers some kind of mild criticism of Greeks for their behavior, we automatically take it as a personal attack.

We claim that we are not above people who aren’t Greek, so why talk down to them when they offer criticism?

I’m damn proud to be Greek, and I’ll be a Phi Tau till they put me in my grave and I enter chapter eternal. All of us are proud to be Greeks and wear our organization’s letters, so we feel the need to defend what we are so proud of. Here is the thing: criticism helps make us stronger.

In order for us as a community to become stronger and to grow, we need to learn how to hear what non-Greeks have to say and use that to our advantage.

Stereotyping and bad behavior haunt Greek life, but whenever someone who isn’t Greek points out something they feel is wrong with Greek life we instantly ridicule them, insult them and tell them to get their facts straight. You don’t need to have facts to have an opinion on something.

Everyone has an opinion, and even though they can be unsubstantiated by facts, they are still valid representations of how someone feels.

If I had a friend who blew up and yelled at me telling me I don’t know what I was talking about every time I offered some advice or constructive criticism, I wouldn’t want to be his friend for very long.

How about instead of telling non-Greeks they don’t know what they’re talking about, we accept the criticism or advice and use it to make ourselves better?

I’m a firm believer that all criticism can be taken constructively.

I’m sick of seeing someone who is not a member of a Greek organization give his honest two-cents about Greeks and then people commenting with stuff like “Looks like somebody didn’t get a bid” or “Better luck next rush, GDI.” This doesn’t make us look good as a community and honestly makes us look like pricks.

I know firsthand how important Greek life is. I know about all of our philanthropic actions, leadership developing practices and community involvement.

I also know that we can reach higher. I want nothing but the best for Greek life at Murray State, and I think that starts with us listening more.

Listening to what people think and what people say and then applying that to make our organizations excel will help us grow and become an even more extraordinary community than we already are.

From a Greek, we have a lot to be proud of; but why stop at great?

 

Column by Zac Garrison, Junior from Franklin, Ky.