Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Let me say that I am not against having a sorority on campus, necessarily. There are two fraternities, so women should not be excluded from Greek Life if they want to be part of it. However, I think that Greek Life is inherently exclusive and problematic, mostly in the assumption that there are two genders, but also in the general tendency for them to attract a type. I don’t believe that the brothers in our frats are all the same; I just feel that in the way it was type-casted in The Phoenix article that all black students join the BCC and all Latin@ students join Enlace (which is untrue), fraternities and sororities are generally made of people who are athletic, dress well, come from money, are straight, and have socially accepted body sizes. And at some level, I don’t believe that those who don’t come from that side of the binary would get bids. I don’t blame the fraternities (on our campus, at least); but for some, it is out of this fear of non-acceptance from the community and the frats that the other end of the binary does not participate in Greek Life. (Did you know that there have been studies done on how sororities create emotional problems when sisters don’t feel skinny enough?) In fact, I strongly believe that a sorority would create clear divides in, rather than strengthen, the female community based on socioeconomic gaps. While the proposers say that it would be an inclusive space because they are all from different backgrounds, in reality, how many sororities have women who are not of a particular body size? How many would be on significant financial aid? Queer? And who are the proposers to say that a sorority would be a safe space?
I am not one of the “many female students” (as quoted in The Phoenix article) who believe that the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) cannot fulfill a role that a sorority would. The WRC could become a wet space, it could be open on weekends, and it will always be an all-gender inclusive space. There’s no acceptance process involved in using the WRC.
It essentially seems that a sorority would exist to have a place for the women (in both sex and gender) to have a place to play pong. And that’s totally fine if that’s what they want. But don’t hide this under the guise that it will be inclusive and accepting of all types of women. Or by saying that the creation of a sorority would lead to a progression in social scene exploration. Swarthmore is a diverse campus, but the sorority will never reflect that diversity — just as the fraternities still have that problem.
Lisa Sendrow ’13 is the President of Swarthmore Feminists.