Bowdoin College Closes Its Doors To Greeks
May 25, 2000
If Brunswick, Maine's Bowdoin College goes through with plans to eliminate its existing fraternities and sororities in favor of co-educational "Community Houses", it will be the latest private college to join the growing number of educational institutions saying no more to Greek life and all of its well-known excesses.
As Dean of Students Chuck Bertz phrased it during a meeting last week with the Board of Trustees, the current Greek system at Bowdoin College is nothing more than a facilitator for "alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual violence and basement circle jerks." Greek life, says Bertz, "is leading our students down the same path that Sodom and Gomorrah walked to get to Jericho." Inspired by Bertz's vexing reference, the Board voted unanimously to eliminate college-sanctioned fraternity and sorority houses on campus by the start of the Fall 2000 term.
Many students on the Bowdoin campus were shocked and outraged by the administration's decision. On the night of Tuesday, May 23, more than 150 frat jocks and sorority bitches marched to Bertz's house, carrying cardboard signs and white candles in a mock-funeral for the Greek system. "I think we got our point across," said one female protester, "even if we never did make it all the way to that guy's house. A bunch of us stopped at Theta Alpha and the next thing I knew I woke up in the woods with my pants on backwards and my bra was missing. I thought that last drink tasted like rufees."
Theta Alpha member Justin Powell complained, "Some people in the administration are saying that fraternities are all about keggers, circle jerks, and date rape, but that's only a small part of what Greek life has to offer students at Bowdoin. There's also a lot of hazing and community service."
Four fraternity houses have been sentenced to community service during the past school year for crimes ranging from vandalism to robbery to the physical assault of a wheelchair-bound student.
"By now we've all seen the documentary 'Animal House'," noted Bertz in a statement to the press following the decision, "and the ugly truths revealed are something Bowdoin can no longer blindly accept as a part of college life. The time for action is now."
But not all Bowdoin Greeks agree that the documentary "Animal House" accurately depicts the daily reality of most fraternities. "Kegger kegger Rohypnol. Rohypnol kegger beerbong," said Alex Palmer, a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma fraternity. He later added, "Yeah! Woooh!!!"
Another Greek, Sapo Tolori, noted, "Animal House isn't a documentary, it's a stupid comedy from the sixties."
Bowdoin College currently sponsors ten fraternities and four sorority houses as part of the school's annual community-building budget. But upon close review of the submitted budget proposals last fall, Bertz says he became skeptical of the value of sponsoring Greek life. "All of our Greek houses are required to engage in some form of on-campus community-building once each semester," he explains. "But I and many trustees don't consider holding an all-campus 'Queer Hunt' a valuable community service. If students want to hunt queers, to make blankets and clothing out of their durable pelts, they can do that on their own time and without college money."
Sorority member Sandy Taylor defended the Queer Hunt, saying, "The Queer Hunt is as much a part of Bowdoin's culture as its name. We've been doing it every fall since 1996. It's one of the only times during the year when the whole campus comes together and gets really wasted and has a bonfire."
Another aspect of Greek life many students will miss is the annual Rush Week, when new pledges hoping to gain membership in Bowdoin's fraternities and sororities are put through the familiar paces of humiliation, degradation and physical violence that build a Greek's character. Two male students last fall had to be taken to the emergency room after having their eyelids duct-taped shut during a fraternity rush event. According to the Chair of Beta Chi, the fraternity responsible for the incident, the two "pussies" were later denied membership on the grounds of "being pussies."
Some students point out that the Greek system is an easy target to criticize, when most administrators and non-Greeks have done little to no research on individual Greek systems or national organizations. Bad press, they say, is the standby, while positive aspects of these organizations are completely ignored.
"As long as the media refuses to overlook incidents of date rape, and the gay porn industry keeps setting fettish videos in frat houses, Greeks will always have a bad rap in the public eye," complained one fraternity member who calls himself T. "Did you ever see 'Jizz Jocks'? That's not at all what life in a real fraternity is like."
Other students have accused Bowdoin's Dean and Board of Trustees as having an unspoken sinister motive for banning Greek houses.
"This shit is fuckin' racist!" says Alpha Pi fraternity member Dan Cawlings. "They're just fuckin' against us because we're fuckin' Greeks. I don't fuckin' see anybody fuckin' tellin' the fuckin' blacks that they can't have their fuckin' house."
Bowdoin's four black students share an off-campus house that is not sponsored by the college, Bertz says.
Regardless of whether the shit is fuckin' racist or not, the controversy on Bowdoin's campus is likely to only heat up during the Fall, before the school's last semester of Greek-style ass paddling, date raping and binge drinking comes to its inevitable and bittersweet close. The new class of freshman will likely never know what its like to be tied up naked and pissed on by drunken seniors or pelted with plastic baggies of vomit. Will these freshman, as the Greeks claim, be more inept social leaders as a result? Voice YOUR opinion in the divisiontwo mailbag.
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