Column by Hallie Beard, Junior from Louisville, Ky.
Last weekend, Lambda Chi Alpha, or Chop, hosted the 42nd annual Watermelon Bust, despite its initial cancellation because of the fraternity’s social suspension. Many Greeks voiced their outrage over the cancellation, claiming it was wrong to include Bust, the crown jewel of a week-long philanthropy event, in social suspension.
I’m not sure why Bust was re-approved after cancellation, but I’m assuming it was a result of the extreme negative reaction, which was understandable, considering how short notice the announcement was.
In the midst of the Bust confusion, Greeks took to social media with relevant hashtags like #BringBackBust. One hashtag in particular though, which I first saw on Yik Yak, made me cringe: #ChopLivesMatter.
The origins of the hashtag are a little muddy – no pun intended – and there’s no telling if it was created by a Greek or non-Greek, in jest or in seriousness.
Regardless of tone, using #ChopLivesMatter is disrespectful. A reference to the popular hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, it makes a mockery of current issues, and demeans the image of Greek life altogether.
The Black Lives Matter movement is about addressing deep-rooted racial injustice and issues of race-related violence; to compare it to a fraternity getting a slap on the wrist (which was then retracted) for breaking rules is ugly and in such poor taste. Whether you support the movement or not, twisting the slogan into a joke for predominately white students in exclusive social organizations to toss around is inappropriate.
I’ll throw out a disclaimer: I have nothing against Greek life, and don’t want to generalize about those who participate in it. I think it’s great that groups of men and women are involved in philanthropies and I would never resent their service to the community. Greeks do a lot of good for Murray State and I hope members continue to better themselves and uphold traditions they love.
However, we must think more critically about this, and consider place and time. It’s hardly been a year since the post-Ferguson Yik Yak debacle, when horribly racist slurs filled the app. Recently, there’s been a petition to remove the statue of a confederate leader from the square in the Capital rotunda in Frankfort, Kentucky, for fear it will alienate people of color. It seems obvious, but now is not the time for a hashtag like #ChopLivesMatter. It isn’t funny, it isn’t cute and isn’t conducive to the claim that Bust is about philanthropy and not socializing.
Furthermore, if Bust had remained canceled, I’m not sure how that affected any aspect of the philanthropy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but donations and food are collected during the week, making the actual Mud Games a social event. No one stripped Greeks of philanthropic opportunity; had Bust not happened, students could have focused their efforts on more community service with the time and money that would have been spent at the event. The fact is Greeks are required to fill a quota of community service hours. I doubt the rule also applies to social events.
Even after Bust commenced, and sorority girls posted pictures in mud-drenched matching outfits, the distasteful hashtag still wiggled its way into captions. Somehow, Greeks got back the celebration they wanted while still pleading, “#BringBackBust #ChopLivesMatter.”
I recognize Bust as a Murray State tradition, and I don’t expect any student to break with tradition without an uproar. But there’s a way to go about responding that doesn’t offend and belittle others.
The Greek philosopher Plato once said, “the measure of a man is what he does with power.” I urge you, members of the Greek community, to think about this. Use and speak your power well. Live your values.