When Sparta Attacks Greece

The latest topic of school gossip circles at Missouri State University is the closing of the Beta Beta chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma, a prominent sorority on campus that has been here since 1945. An article published in the Missouri State Standard (remarking on the national headquarters of Tri-Sigma closing the chapter) has drawn more discussion than these articles normally do (all of 16 comments now), and it’s pretty appalling.

In general, I agree that the chapter was at fault and probably deserved to be shut down at this point. They had broken the law repeatedly (the police had been called to the Tri-Sigma house 7 times, 3 for underage drinking and serving liquor without a liquor license… keeping in mind that the members of Tri-Sigma sign an agreement specifically to do no such thing), and the national headquarters indicated that they had been working with the MSU chapter to help improve their conduct and behaviour for quite some time prior to revoking their charter.

That being said, it seems that the majority of non-Greek students are being complete dicks about it. They find it amusing and subsequently mock the sorority members. They* write in with harsh (if perhaps accurate) comments about Greek life and the members of Tri-Sigma (though they also make libelous and likely incorrect assumptions about the girls). They are mean to girls who are upset, most of whom are confused because they had nothing to do with the issues leading to the closing of the chapter (particularly the freshmen), and 50+ of whom have now had to find a new place to live.

The title for this entry came to mind as a good parallel for our campus, and perhaps our society. When the movie 300 came out, we glorified it, and quotes from the movie became instant memes. I was cool with it at the time, because it looked like an awesome movie. I never got around to going and seeing it, but I could see why people would enjoy it, and I have enjoyed the various parodies I’ve seen on the net. Still, as people across campus break into laughter and begin attacking the Greeks**, I ask myself… why?

Perhaps I’m digging too much, finding something where truly there is nothing, but the hatred and detestation certain individuals seem to hold for the Greek community at our campus is startling. I simply do not understand how those who uphold gay rights, the right to choose, and liberty in all its ways, can then look at a group of people and say, “You’re wrong and what you do is stupid, and so are you!” simply because they’re part of a social organization. Maybe you don’t agree with it. Fine. I don’t agree with homosexuality as a lifestyle or having an abortion (unless certain circumstances apply). I’m not Muslim either, but I don’t attack them for their beliefs.

It ties into a bigger issue of religion (and why certain individuals feel the need to attack others about their beliefs), which I won’t go into now, but it all boils down to this comment from one of the members of Sigma Sigma Sigma:

I’m not entirely sure what the Greek system did to you, but I find it funny that you repeatedly talked about how “no one cares” about us and that “everyone else just thinks it’s funny” that our charter got suspended. Why did you take the time out of your busy, important day to tell us how much you “don’t care”?

There are a multitude of reasons why people join a Greek community–just like there are many reasons people choose not to join. And sorry, it really has nothing to do with popularity and feeling important. In a campus as large as Mo. State, a fraternity or sorority helps give you a place where you belong.

We really don’t care why you chose not to go Greek, why do you care so much about why we did make that decision?

A mistake was made, and the girls probably feel pretty bad in general. Why can’t you* either 1) Do what you can to help them recover and move on, or 2) Shut up and leave them alone? They already feel bad, so why make them feel worse? What does it gain you?

Besides a sense of superiority. Maybe a feeling of vindication for having not joined (or not been accepted into?) a fraternity or sorority. A chance to use your flame-fu to kick some easy targets when they’re already down on the ground.

If you can’t say anything nice, shut your damned mouth.

*The second person pronouns used in this piece are directed at no individual. I feel it bears writing that they are not directed solely at those who have written in to the Standard either, for I have heard similar comments in person (often by people I do not know, just random students on campus).

**To be fair, people loved the movie because it was good. It was a great action flick with a good love story (from what I’ve been told), so it appealed to a wide audience. The special effects were good. Presumably the acting was up to snuff. But in a philosophical, deeper sense, perhaps we resonate (or want to?) with the Spartans on a societal level. We want to be the warriors, the “good guys,” and the total- bad-ass-who-kills-everything.

In reality, the Spartans were no more “good guys” than the Persians were. And in the end, it was the Greeks who survived. As the saying goes, “Rome conquered the Greek empire and its civilization, but Greek culture conquered Rome.” The Grecian culture influenced everything because the Greeks were thinkers and doers, innovaters and inventors, rather than fighters.

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