By Naomi Kreitman
It’s 3am on a Friday morning, and I am awake because M.H. Erodios, a fraternity of UCR students, has deemed the guy next door cool enough to be invited for an interview. Since this is such a great honor, they feel justified pounding on his door in the early morning hours and waking him to deliver an invitation (printed on delightful stationary I might add) and making no effort to avoid waking anyone else in the process.
My problem, and the reason I’m writing this article, is that membership to M.H. Erodios seems to be incompatible with common courtesy. In other words – hey, I’m a frat boy, and that makes it ok for me to wake all you losers up on a school night so I can hand out these adorable envelopes.
Fraternities originated in the Middle Ages, and, ironically in this case, were allied closely with the church. They were established for young men leaving their hometowns to study in new universities in Bologna or Paris, and so were based on camaraderie and mutual support. In principle, fraternities today have a positive influence, providing stability for those who need it. (I use the word stability because when joining a fraternity you pay and sign a contract that essentially confirms you are part of the gang – look mum, I have 10 whole friends! And I have this piece of paper to prove it!) However, though friendship and support may still be present in their ethos, so are exclusivity and a superiority complex.
I don’t know any of M.H. Erodios’s members personally, and I have no desire to change that so I am speaking from what I can deduce from their actions and how they present themselves. They stroll around Middelburg in suits, not rags like us commoners, and specifically request you come to your interview (if you’re lucky enough to be invited) in ‘casual chic clothing.’ They are therefore making a conscious effort to visually differentiate themselves from the wider UCR community. By all means, there is nothing wrong with dressing smart. My problem is not with tailoring but with the fact you must dress a certain way; they are chiseling away at your free will.
Connected to this idea of group culture limiting our personal freedom is my belief that individually, and apart from the rest of the fraternity, not all of these boys are imbeciles. Ten minutes into their intervention in my friend’s room, a bleary-eyed girl on my floor went to see what was going on and asked them to be quiet. They remained in the hallway, all talking at an immensely antisocial volume, and so I later went to ask them to either move into my friend’s room or take it outside. Instead of an apology or explanation I was offered the oh-so-witty ‘well we wouldn’t want to go in your room,’ after which they left, not because I had any effect but because they were finished anyway.
I struggle to believe that not one of the six or so fraternity members in my hallway felt any guilt towards the three confused, exhausted and pajama clad housemates from whom they stole precious hours of sleep on a school night. Surely there must have been someone whose conscience told him this wasn’t ok; but this is tradition, and all the other guys think it’s a good idea, so not one person spoke up. Evidently, being in this fraternity involves compromising your respect for others. Either that or everyone in my hallway tonight genuinely couldn’t care less about bothering, offending and intruding on people they’ve never met before, in which case I have lost a little faith in humanity.
So, M.H. Erodios, as I conclude this article I feel strangely pleased you disrupted our quiet, sleepy house tonight. Without a display of such shameless disregard for others I would never have written this article; one that I think is important the UCR community see. No one invited you in, and you are not welcome here – at least not at 3 in the morning. Act as rudely and as callously as you want, braid each other’s hair and shower in Hagelslag for all I care, but not when it affects the vast majority of us who want nothing to do with your fraternity.
Naomi Kreitman, class of 2016, is a Law and Philosophy major from London, England, United Kingdom.