Greek community deserves some peace

Throughout this week, freshmen will wander up and down University Avenue, entering buildings in the early evening and not reappearing until well after midnight. They will be looking for a good time, for a place to hang out, for beer and for friends. In short, they will be participating in the annual greek rush week.
Despite having been a part of the University experience for decades, the greek system has fallen on hard times. They have gained a reputation as havens for binge drinking, sexual assault and hazing. Given the degree of public scrutiny to which they have been subjected, this is not surprising. We all have skeletons in our closets and when people look hard enough, they find them. It is time to cut the greeks some slack.
Going away to college involves more than just receiving an education. Joining organizations and participating in campus events is as important to the University experience as time spent in classrooms. Many people join culturally aware or politically active groups. Some just want to be social and make friends. Just as the Queer Student Cultural Center and Fencing Club bring together people with similar interests, so too does the greek system. They are a community just as valid as any other campus institution. They may drink a little more than other students and they may be more conservative, but in the University environment, where ideas are supposed to be freely exchanged, they are entitled to hold their own unique beliefs.
Even though many may not agree with the beliefs embodied in the greek system, it should not be condemned. Every organization has views that are not universally accepted, but they are certainly entitled to have them in the United States. Each person chooses his or her beliefs and degree of campus activism and we must all respect that. Greeks freely choose their lifestyle, and that is their right.
The greeks are not looking for trouble. Aside from Homecoming weekend, greek houses would largely prefer to go about their business unobtrusively. The same cannot be said for radical, vocal groups who bombard students on Northrop Mall or in front of Coffman Union with their political or social views, no matter how strange. It is these groups that should be investigated as they are far more annoying than the closed greek community. The greeks know that not everyone agrees with them, but at least they are quiet about it. If you do not agree, do not join. They do not want to make everyone think and live like them.
Undoubtedly bad things happen in the fraternity and sorority houses. There is underage drinking and sexism and harassment. But the same things go on all over the place. Are the greeks any worse than five guys living in a house in Dinkytown and smoking marijuana all day? Are they any worse than the dorm residents throwing a party behind closed doors? They may be a little more visible, but as long as fraternities and sororities refrain from forcing their views on everyone else, the University community should extend to them the same courtesy. Let them have their fun as long as no one is being hurt or annoyed.