Letter to the editor: The zero-policy on hazing is still very much in effect in the Greek community

CSUN student takes flyer representing Gamma Zeta Alpha fraternity.
Raul Martinez/ The Sundial

Individuality is something that all CSUN students easily express, specifically proven since we were rated one of the most diverse college campuses in the state of California.

Every person is different, every fingerprint is different, and every student organization is different. Now, with that being said, I write this letter as not only a member at-large of the Greek community, but as an individual of your CSUN community. I do not write this letter from a Greek bias; I write this letter to address the issue of miscommunication that has happened in our community in regards to Greek hazing practices and what Greeks have done as a subset of the CSUN community to prevent hazing.

I had the pleasure of recently sitting down with a group of students, most of whom were not involved in Greek life, who shared some concerns. That is what prompted this letter. I would like to take this opportunity to inform the student body about the groundbreaking work our Greek leadership and university faculty has done for our community.

First, it was discussed that the community is unaware of what the Greeks have done to prevent hazing, and it was possible this is a result of bad PR practice on the Greeks side.

I have to point out this piece is a follow-up story to an article published on Sept. 8 of this year by Josh Stepakoff, the current Interfraternity Council President on campus, but I digress.

I admit, there is definitely more education the Greeks can give to our community and it is my new found mission to start this, (hence, this article being written). This year alone we organized, for the first time ever, a campus-wide event for Greeks of all organizations called Greek 102. This is a new annual event that had just been developed. The beauty of Greek 102 is every year, the subject matter of Greek 102 changes as our struggles as a community change. After this past year’s tragedies, our program this year focused on hazing prevention and how not to be a bystander. We came together as a community to learn about best practices in hazing prevention. We had recruitment, the holy grail and major highlight of the Greek experience, taken away from us in order to realize the severity of a few organizations’ own decisions. We are perceived as one community, which is true, in the sense that we stand for social justice, change in our community and philanthropic work, but we are not all the same type of person with the same type of morals. We joined our individual houses for their own individual values, which is what makes each house unique. We stand together as a community for social justice and hazing prevention. We also established a Hazing Prevention Committee, which worked closely with Dr. William Watkins in establishing a code that CSUN Greeks specifically act within, in order for us to be able to recruit new members this fall.

Another issue that was brought to my attention, and also hit me hard emotionally, is some students believe that CSUN Greeks do not know what is going on in our own CSUN community. Now, I am not treating one group’s opinion as set-in-stone of what everyone believes, but I must address the matter. Personally, it is required in my organization that every member be apart of another organization or club on campus. My house has a specifically delegated individual who’s job it is to make sure each sister is involved in the community outside of Greek life. The president of my chapter is also the president of another organization on campus and is on the Associated Students panel (which has a significant amount of Greeks in positions). My sorority raised $29,000 for our philanthropy and is recorded as the highest fundraising organization on campus. Greeks’ awareness of the needs of our community is in fact large, and we want everyone to share our passion for positive change in the community as much as we do.

The Greek community does not stand separate from the rest of the CSUN student body. I go to the same classes as you, share the same passions as you and stand for the same social change as you do. The Greek community is just one subset of our entire community and it is time there is more understanding and and a better connection from everyone in the community. Sitting down with those students who expressed their concerns with Greeks on campus will be one of my greatest memories of being Greek. I know it sounds odd, but it’s true. I am glad to have the pleasure of letting people know why I love being Greek and everything we do to prevent hazing and encourage community involvement. I am glad in difficult times our CSUN community stands for social justice. I am glad to be Greek and I am proud to be a part of this community.

Carli Olson is a two-year member of the Greek system and has held leadership positions at the chapter level and the executive level of Greek life on campus.