School leadership is a messy topic to discuss, whether people are paying attention or not. Only under exceptional circumstances, like the recent controversies, do students begin to question who is leading their school. On any given day, there are 21 ASMSU Senators, dozens of RAs and countless orientation and club leaders that are all groups of students representing students.
Consider the fact that only about five percent of MSU students are involved in sororities or fraternities, commonly referred to as Greek life, but almost 25 percent of ASMSU Senators and 50 percent of the orientation leaders on campus are Greek. Non-Greek students at MSU aren’t fairly represented, and to incoming freshman and outside observers MSU may look like a significantly more Greek-centric school than it is. This isn’t an accurate representation of the student body despite the fact that these leaders are charged to represent said student body.
This is not in any way trying to discredit Greek Life; in fact, people involved in Greek life are, on paper, more involved in the school than the average student. After all, involvement is a huge part of Greek Life with many opportunities for community service and events, as well as a strong push to get students participating on campus.
The problem is that Greek life, by nature, creates a sort of microcosm between all the different fraternities and sororities, which have a culture of their own that is unique from all the other cultures on campus. It’s a culture that, numerically, is unfairly overrepresented compared to any other single groupable set of people on campus.
Part of the problem when groups become this domineering is that those representative positions they are filling also become part of their microcosm, creating a chasm between leadership and the people they are supposed to represent. It’s not possible to fairly represent something that one is not a part of it, and not all groups are going to get fairly represented with such an overabundance of the Greeks in leadership positions.
When every other orientation leader says they are involved in Greek life, that gives incoming freshmen the impression that a significant number of students are involved in Greek life.
What MSU needs is not necessarily less Greeks in leadership, but simply a more diverse population of students running for such positions. Year after year, highly qualified students run for Senate seats and don’t get elected because they don’t have backing of a large group of people at their disposal. When only a small percent of students are voting in campus elections, having any single Greek chapter push for one of their members to win will greatly sway the vote, let alone if multiple houses do this. Last year, 1,814 ballots were cast which equalled a measly 12.7 percent of the student body.
Much like national elections, a big problem with the results is that not enough people care to vote. The people that are pressured to vote are going to be those already involved in the system in some way. When Greek life becomes a part of that system, they get the Greek vote. This creates a massive disadvantage for somebody who would have to campaign for votes, as opposed to getting them simply because of their participation in a large club system.
If statistics about MSU show anything, it is that we are a group of people with diverse and varying interests and talents. All of those people should feel like they are an equal part of the school. Leadership positions on campus are and should be open to all students on campus, but to an outsider these positions may seem unattainable without the support of the Greek system. These positions would be much more diversely held if simply more people would just go out, vote and get involved.