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.
Students have initiated a campaign for a new referendum on Greek life that aims to be both broader and harsher. Proposed changes include the abolition of the Greek alphabet in science and math classes and a complete ban on Greek bar in Sharples.
Gertrude Harper ’15, who has spearheaded the movement, said, “The student body as a whole reacted tepidly to initial referendum efforts, so we’re going for something more controversial.”
In addition to a total ban on fraternities and sororities, the webpage for the referendum suggests ten additional policy changes, including:
3. Renaming the Economics, Mathematics and Philosophy departments from their current, Greek names.
6. A ban on all Greek food – including Greek Bar, feta cheese, and Greek yogurt – in Sharples and Essie Mae’s.
7. Melting down the statue of Sappho in front of Sharples, and using the metal to create a statue of the Persian King Xerxes I, a historical enemy of Greece.
Leonard Smitt ’13, a Physics major, said that he would welcome a change from using Greek letters as scientific symbols. “I particularly don’t like π. The symbol itself makes me think of hegemony and narrow-mindedness,” he said, “Maybe we could instead draw a little pie as a replacement.”
However, some others are not as happy with change. “Mathematicians have always used Greek letters, and there is no compelling reason to change that,” said Professor Al Geber. He also expressed concern about the proposed renaming of the department. “We were told that we might be called the ‘Department of Fun With Numbers.’ I hope this is all just a big prank,” he said.
Economics Professor Sue Plye, on the other hand, said that she would support a name change. “I think ‘Money Studies’ is a great new name for the department. Money is a good, Latin word, with not too much Greek influence.”
The entire campus community is invited to a rally next Saturday, which will culminate in a burning of classical Greek literature in front of the President’s House. “If you’ve got a spare copy of the Iliad lying around, bring it,” Harper said.
President Chopp, who is reportedly an avid fan of the Disney film “Hercules,” has fully condemned the new referendum. In a heated email sent to the entire student body, she wrote, “You kids are nuts.”
Harper said that though the fight to abolish all Greek life may be challenging, she will “commit to erasing every trace of Greece’s influence on Swat.” “Of course, we can’t be completely thorough,” she said, “but I’m going to try our best to make sure that we become an entirely Greek-free school.”