On Dec. 4, The Brown and White published the article, “What would Lehigh look like without Greek life?” The article has been circulating on campus, and the fallout has been very discouraging. In particular, Kyle Higgins —someone I have known since our freshman year — is receiving very unfair treatment from a significant amount of people. Along with his views being sensationalized, the situation quickly devolved into ad hominem attacks and identity politics. Rather than focusing on the issue — on the ideas — Higgins has been pigeonholed as a flag bearer for the anti-Greek portion of our campus. This mode of discourse is not just bad, it is dangerous.
It is my understanding that the intent of the article was to engender an intellectual discussion about Greek life at Lehigh. Despite those intentions, many have ignored them. An intellectual discussion is, by its nature, inquisitive, critical and rational. If one of these conditions is eliminated then the rest crumble as well. Higgins proposed to pursue a critical discussion of the Greek system, and in response, some who are pro-Greek have erected a psychological barrier between their feelings and that discourse, thus destroying any way of identifying truth. Our generation has a deep-seated urge to hide behind bromides like, “I’m entitled to my opinion” or “What about my feelings?” First, merely having an opinion is not enough. Anyone can read a textbook, or listen to a lecture and regurgitate a view. But this reduces rationality to the arbitrary by committing oneself to those views which ‘sounds best’ rhetorically. Second, your feelings are not an argument. Whim, arbitrary assertion, unreasonable claims, and the like are all entirely disqualified from discourse. Taken to the logical extent that it implies, such a subjective view results in the most disastrous, barbaric, nihilistic societies like the Soviet Union.
I grant that there are those people that are pro-Greek who recognize particular issues in Greek life (e.g. hazing and the expectations of women). Those issues are not merely relevant, but are indeed important. Those who are working to make changes in these areas should be commended. Nevertheless, few are willing to critically reflect on the system as a whole. This reluctance is the root of the danger that has been exposed by Higgins’ debacle. If you are not willing to step away from your interests and contemplate those things which you take for granted, then the only tool you have, namely, reason, is broken. Once you have lost that, there is little-to-no chance of bettering yourself or your community. Moreover, actively shunning those who are willing to pursue critical analysis of any system — Greek or not — is the paradigm case of moral cowardice. In our own lives, we must each strive to embody virtue by facing our flaws, destroying the contradictions, and transcending those weaknesses. Similarly for social institutions. The Greek system as such has very deep rooted traditions and practices. Regardless of the outcome, they must be questioned. Why is participating in Greek life good? What are the psychological implications of elevating others to the status of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ in your life? Are you a member of Greek life first or an individual first? These questions must be asked and answered if any resolution is to be achieved. Before that can happen, however, many in our generation need to reevaluate their view of what it means to be a good person; namely, they need to reject dishonest assertions that stem from the arbitrary or feelings.
— Vincent Graziano, ’18