"Revenge of the Nerds:" Greek Debate Provokes Discourse on Campus

April 15, 2011

Greek/NonGreek Debate
Photo by Sarah Hartman

On Tuesday night, the varsity debate team hosted its annual exhibition debate, designed to give the seniors on the team one last chance to showcase their debating capabilities.

This year, the team rallied against a team of four members from Greek life and argued the affirmative position that Greek life should be banned from campus in order to best serve the integrity of the College. The Greeks were represented by Laura Berk (Class of 2012, Chi Omega), Kyle Hackel (Class of 2012, Tau Kappa Epsilon), Ian Wallace (Class of 2012, X-Club) and Mary Karangalen (Class of 2014, Non Compis Mentis), and the debate team was represented by Luke Kupscnzk (Class of 2009), Ariana Eily (Class of 2012), Raymond Verboncoeur (Class of 2014) and Ryan Lambert (Class of 2013). The debate opened with a welcome speech by President Lewis Duncan in Tiedtke Hall, which was packed with students and faculty from five local educational institutions. The two teams then discussed issues of Greek life across the nation, with both sides arguing their points convincingly.

The Greek team argued that Greek life is an important social networking system for students that provides them with leadership, organizational skills and moral development. “The Greek system is a structured resource of mental and moral development that prepares students for life and work experiences in the future,” said Berk. “It is no surprise that the leadership of every major organization on campus consists of at least one Greek member.”

The Greeks other arguments included philanthropy participation (they are the largest service network in the nation), high cumulative GPAs and strong alumni connections.

In rebuttal, the debate team discussed issues such as hazing, academic dishonesty, sexual assault and the empirical and normative harms of Greek societies across the nation. Using the examples of Bernard Madoff, the leader of the country’s most elaborate Ponzi schemes, and Michael Ross, a notorious serial rapist (both affiliates of the Greek system), Kupscnzk argued that the Greek system often overlooks or ignores behaviors, such as sexual assault, by brushing it aside as “normal” rather than correcting or punishing it as they should.

The debate team went on to discuss the ways in which negative Greek stereotypes are often played out on the Rollins campus, which harms the integrity of the College. To illustrate this point, the team used the example of media coverage of intoxicated Greek students on Fox Day, which they claimed was bad publicity for both Rollins and the Greek system. The team also attacked the monthly themed events hosted by the Greeks, claiming that these parties are guilty of damaging morale and normalizing negative stereotypes.

“While the Greek system is guilty of empirical harms that are measurably damaging to the integrity of this campus, such as alcohol abuse, sexual assault, unsafe sex and academic dishonesty, there are also normative harms that impair the morale of the campus population,” said Kupscnzk. “Greek life exacerbates homophobia, sexism, racism, classism and much more. Themed parties such as ‘CEOs and Office Hoes’ set men and women apart in ways that take us back decades in the social progress women have achieved. For the record, the debate team doesn’t think you’re hoes.”

The debate team maintained its title as champion and took home the Rollins Cup once again this year. The event brought Greeks and non-Greeks alike together in a lively and engaging intellectual discussion. This conflict of ideas provided a great way to bring the campus together in meaningful dialogue to promote awareness and facilitate positive change.

By Sarah Hartman (Class of 2011)

Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
For more information, contact news@rollins.edu.

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