I'm not going to attempt to speak for all "GDI's" or Greek people – I'm going to speak as a Volunteer.
Upon reading the Letter to the Editor that ran on April 2, many of my Facebook friends raved about it; I, however, felt a sinking sensation. The amount of hate present within and throughout the article is abhorrent. We are all Volunteers and being a Volunteer consists of helping out our fellow Vols, not making fun of them.
Perhaps you agree with the letter I am referring to, and perhaps you think that this group of people has no need to complain. However, publishing a seething, sarcastic letter stereotyping and pushing down a person or a group of people is wrong. Every person deserves the same amount of respect, whether you judge their actions as worthy or not.
The letter cites several Daily Beacon articles as "over sympathetic with the Greek community," but, unlike the letter itself, none of the cited articles condemn a group of people of being unworthy of sympathy.
Assuming that people that are Greek are more easily admitted to our university's social and political organizations, and essentially communicating that they don't deserve that admission, is not what being a Volunteer is about.
Being a Volunteer should be about encouraging students to become involved in organizations and be proud of their university.
The alternative the letter suggests is to look down upon students who are passionate about being a Volunteer and passionate about the university.
Does the high incidence of Greek people in such organizations as SAA and SGA not suggest that just maybe those Greek people have the ability, as much as every student, to be a great Vol? Perhaps those same passionate Vols who chose to become involved on campus through the Greek system also want to make a change on campus through SAA, SGA and The Daily Beacon.
The point here is not to point fingers at who is better, or "he/she/[insert organization] did [blank] last weekend," but to remind everyone what it means to be a Volunteer – teaming with your fellow Vols to get through the thick and thin.
We can all agree that it's been hard to be a Vol recently. We've lost Pat Summit, this football season did not fail to disappoint, and we've occasionally managed to be the butt of the joke of national news networks.
However, in the true Volunteer spirit, we muster on, singing Rocky Top at the top of our lungs and managing to despise every other SEC team. In the last minutes of our Sweet 16 game against Michigan, we all had that small hope of making it to the Elite Eight, and cheered beside each other regardless of each other's organizational status, letters printed on our chest or GPA.
Being a Volunteer is about never giving up and giving your all to Tennessee. Regardless of your affiliation, being a Vol for Life should never mean judging or hating your fellow Vol, but supporting and encouraging them to be the best Vol they can be.
Again, I don't know what it's like to be Greek, but lately many various issues have arisen within the Greek system.
Therefore, if my fellow Vols who are Greek try to use the campus newspaper to break down stereotypes, I'm not going to condemn them. Anyone acting within the Volunteer Spirit wouldn't either.
Allison Vargo is a junior in social work. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: In the letter, Ms. Connelly writes that, "The Daily Beacon has taken it upon itself to be a voice of this marginalized people," citing six columns and one letter about the Greek community and ignoring the fact that the Daily Beacon has published more than 300 columns this academic year, not including letters and guest columns. As point of reference, the Beacon has run a weekly, Monday column on the marginalization of minorities and women entitled "Struggling to be Heard." It has also published a column on the misrepresentation of Latino women in the mass media, an interview with a famous LGBTQ poetry publisher and a column on the under-representation of Asian-Americans in the Winter Olympics. Furthermore, The Daily Beacon currently has 14 columnists, 3 of which are Greek affiliated. This ratio closely reflects the percent of UT undergraduates involved in Greek life.