Calling for Inclusivity in Exclusivity: A Look at Greek Life and USC

Of Many Strands Dec 19, 2020

By Trinity Yang, USC 23'

I never thought Greek life was for me.

To me, the invitation of a sorority bid was being asked to sit at a table that was never made to accommodate an unpopular, non-white introvert like me. To enter a world of drama, drinking, and deceptive friendship—dominated by stereotypes. Adamantlyand wholly, I believed that the entirety of it thrived on gross exclusivity, plus at least a little bit of racism. That is, until I didn’t.(And then until I did again.)

My first semester at USC, I came across a social/service fraternity that shattered every previous conception I had of Greek life. With a culturally relatable dynamic (a majority Asian makeup) and the promise of a meaningful community to be found, I jumped at the chance to join. Romanticizing the idea that someone like me could find a legitimate place among brotherhoods and sisterhoods of a party-college campus, I began to reconsider “going Greek” as maybe not being so exclusive and racist after all.

Yet, I was wrong. While not as blatant as some houses on The Row, we were just as inherently homogeneous-- but subtle and shrouded this time, under the guise of a “diverse” and POC-filled community. Claims of inclusivity were blanket-statements, no more than passive gestures used to rationalize our elitist actions and excuse the repercussions of our implicit biases. The legitimate actions necessary to diversify the overwhelmingly-Asian population in place were far from being found. Plainly speaking, we were not diverse at all.

In reality, (racial) “diversity” is so difficult to come by in such social monoliths because of the triple threats of financial,representative, and preservation-based barriers. Most visibly, steep costs of membership and feelings of alienation act to deter those divergent from the typical financially-able and ethnically-similar norm. Then hidden behind veiled processes of rush or more specifically, “deliberations”, active body-dictated cuts serve as an undeniable cause for homogeneity. In giving internal groups the authority to determine future membership by vague, and often arbitrary, metrics of who “fits in” or not, a socialagenda of enduring exclusivity is established. We become so afraid of welcoming those different from us and changing thenorms of our communities that the end result is only ever a perpetuation of bias-fueled standards and generational recycles of the same sheltered perspective...

If you want to read more, check out the full article here.

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