If you have not already been able to tell by my stereotypically vested headshot, I am a member of a college fraternity on campus.
Though I have devoted a great deal of energy to my chapter and to the Greek system as a whole, I have been very invested in other extracurriculars throughout my soon-to-be four years on campus.
Still, to this day, when someone in any myriad of organizations – I have experienced this most strongly in student government and Central Program Council – learns that I am a member of a college fraternity, I usually hear "I had no idea!" or "You seem too good for that!"
The surprise that people tend to experience when connecting someone intelligent and courteous to membership in a Greek organization is disappointing and poses a whole host of issues. When non-Greeks assume that they are looked down on by Greeks, they only ensure hostility between the two.
The perceived aloofness, WASPiness, antagonistic conservatism and misconduct of Greeks is a byproduct of a few loud apples at the bottom of the bushel rather than a more silent, overwhelming majority.
But I have to admit there is one place for which I have been very disheartened in UT's Greeks that has conspicuously revealed our unwillingness to listen, understand or be alert to campus issues. And that is in the university's hosting of Sex Week.
At UT, this unwillingness for understanding is a direct result of Total Frat Move Culture. TFM Culture dictates that Greeks must be innately superior, wealthy, patriotic and contradictorily possessing traditional American (i.e. Christian) values while also acting like a general clown to women and minorities and using nepotism to get out of condemning situations.
It does not help that on Monday, a TFM "columnist" published a summation of mockery to Sex Week's lighthearted promotional video, presupposing to UT students that they should be opposed to Sex Week – which is next week – because it is organized by a bunch of GDIs.
First, that is not true. There is at least one member of Sex Week's executive board who is Greek and a number of Sex Week's supporters have been Greek members at UT.
Last Spring, it seemed that most Greek students who were opposed to Sex Week's mere existence cited either misuse of taxpayer funds or a moral disagreement. Both of these are falsifiable. Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee received no state funds for this programming and only received 0.27 percent of student programming fees.
Additionally, a "moral" opposition to discussions of sex fails to recognize that a good deal of Sex Week's programming focuses on abstinence and discussions of sex and religion.
To tell the truth, there is a gamut of reasons for Greeks to support Sex Week at UT next week. There is programming on sexual assault – God knows that we Greeks don't have the best reputation on that topic. There is programming about how to approach hook-up culture and "casual" hooking up, something Greek life tends to exalt. There is programming about contraceptives. Greeks are as sexually active as non-Greeks, and we should know how to protect ourselves as much as everyone else.
Open-dialogue sex education is extremely important. It is well-documented that states that teach contraceptive-based sex education in middle and high schools have lower STD and teen pregnancy rates than those that espouse abstinence-only-no-questions-asked sex education – like Tennessee. And it is no secret that UT lags behind most public universities in sexual health rankings.
In fraternities and sororities, we exalt having sex for the sake of having sex. Our inebriated, stimulated hookup culture discards the emotional connection of sexual activity and often results in sexual assault.
This makes supporting Sex Week even more important in light of our current standing. When someone says "fraternity" or "sorority," you can bet "buttchugging," "rape," "drugs," "elitism" and "ignorance" usually follow.
Supporting Sex Week is one way to turn that stigma on campus and among alumni. We are members of organizations founded on respect, fellowship and personal development. Supporting Sex Week shows that Greeks want to make UT a better place by addressing issues that apply to every student, namely, sexual activity or the decision not to become sexually active.
To be clear, I'm not saying the negative reputations of Greek life have much merit. But we have to realize that they are prevalent anyway.
Supporting a scrutinized campus event that has a positive message of education will not only help us learn something, it can help distance us from our reputation of aloofness, snobbery and hypocrisy.
Wade Scofield is a senior in religious studies and Latin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.