Speak up, greeks

This week, a video of sophomore members in the University of Iowa Alpha Phi sorority chapter was uploaded and quickly went viral. It features a large group of women chanting lyrics ranging from drinking to degrading members of other sororities.

Without going into all of the crude specifics, one lyric directs members of another sorority on campus to “shove their flower skirts” somewhere unsavory, blacking out after “chugging,” and other references to sex acts and partying. Additionally, one lyric mentions going to the bars with their “babies,” freshman members of the sorority.

The reaction to the video on various social-media outlets has overshadowed the video itself, with buzz and rumors about what the potential consequences for Alpha Phi will be, from a simple reprimand to the chapter getting kicked off campus. However, The Daily Iowan has so far been largely unable to shed more light on what these consequences will be. Every relevant organization has stonewalled us.

First, there’s obviously Alpha Phi itself. Calls to the chapter were not returned as of Thursday evening. But other greek bodies have also been silent. The Panhellenic Council, the governing body for traditionally housed sororities, and the UI Center For Student Involvement and Leadership have also not returned our requests for comment. The only statement we’ve been able to get is from Jeneane Beck, the senior director for news-media relations in the UI Office of Strategic Communication.

This is a typical pattern in recent years. It seems the first reaction when these sorts of controversies emerge is to figure out a damage-control strategy before any comment is made or to try to ride out the outrage. If those involved in greek life bemoan their treatment in the media, perhaps they should give the media their side of the story.

The Alpha Phi video is distasteful and crude. But in all honesty, seeing these sorts of videos is no longer surprising. Earlier this year, members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter landed themselves in hot water after a video emerged of a racist chant they yelled on a bus. But it was later revealed that these members learned the lyrics at a national fraternity leadership cruise four years earlier. Evidently, it was passed down through the ranks.

A typical criticism of greek life is the “walled-garden” sort of structure that fraternities and sororities are stereotyped as. Until events such as the Alpha Phi video bring the underbelly to the spotlight, those who aren’t involved are left to wonder if this is an example of a group of women that participated in a tasteless chant or indicative of a wider culture in fraternities and sororities. And until more people speak up, we may never know.

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