Earlier this month, 300 girls signed up to be a part of a four-day cycle of endless small talk. Sorority recruitment is like going on 1,000 little first dates, except more awkward because there is a lot of clapping and singing. And while talking about Netflix and campus food gets boring fast, there are two topics every sorority girl knows not to discuss during recruitment: partying and politics.
While the first tends to be difficult to avoid, the second usually isn’t. In my three years as a part of Binghamton University’s National Panhellenic Council, I’ve never been tempted to bring up political views in recruitment conversations, and it definitely never crossed my mind to consider when choosing which girls to welcome into my organization. But that was before President Donald Trump’s United States became the norm.
Politics in Greek life are not generally an issue because it’s not a political environment. Whether you lean more to the right or left should have no impact on how you’re viewed. The values laid out in the mission statements of organizations in the National Panhellenic Council are values held on both sides of the aisle, or at least that’s how it was before Trump.
The “alt-right,” white-supremacist wing that Trump’s campaign and now presidency has ignited is vastly different from normal party politics. It’s created a society in which everything has become political because the hate spewed directly impacts the everyday lives of millions of people.
Recently, The Odyssey posted an article in which a Binghamton University student claimed to be dropped by the recruitment process because she voted for Trump. What the article fails to mention is the author’s use of social media to proliferate hate toward minorities. You have the right to vote for whichever candidate you choose, and nobody else has to know. There is simply no way for the members of the six organizations participating in recruitment to know which box any of the girls picked on Nov. 8, unless those girls disclose that information. That’s how the U.S. democratic process works.
Even if it were public knowledge, it wouldn’t bar anyone from the opportunity to be a part of the National Panhellenic Council. We’re several weeks into the Trump administration, and many “elitist liberals” have found themselves awkwardly mid-Trump joke only to realize they’re speaking to someone who voted for Trump. There are plenty of people I was shocked to find out voted for Trump, but that in itself is not a crime or immoral act. And I understand everyone had their own reasons. However, that’s completely different than openly targeting people of color on social media.
While those outside the Greek life system see a stereotyped image of sorority girls spending all day drinking and posing for Instagram pictures, the ideals of the six social philanthropic sororities on BU’s campus have more value than that. They’re “dynamic sisterhoods of powerful women fostering uncompromising principles, igniting positive change and embracing individuality,” and women who “instill such ideals in the hearts of its members as will result in actions worthy of the highest precepts of true womanhood, democracy and humanity.”
Discriminating against or degrading people based on their race or religion has nothing to do with party politics. The hatred for minorities that has been facilitated by the Trump administration has made politics more prominent in the media we see every day. Before this year I could count on one hand, maybe even one finger, the amount of times I had watched C-SPAN. Now, I can’t remember the last day I didn’t at least see one clip of C-SPAN footage while scrolling through Facebook.
The outlandish acts of hostility displayed by the Trump administration have brought politics to the center stage. Regardless of who you chose to vote for in November, for whatever reasons you had, you have the choice every day to be accepting or to generate more hate. As politics continue to cross boundaries previously left untouched, we must continue to be vigilant about our choices.
Rebecca Klar is a senior majoring in English.