Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Our own civil war

At our first football game, I witnessed two little snippets of events that portrayed our University’s current culture war perfectly.

First, I saw a student athlete mockingly ask a fraternity member why he dresses the way he does, an obvious shot at his bowtie and seersucker pants. Second, I saw a fraternity member repeatedly refer to a student with an Honors College wristband as a GDI (God Damn Independent), an obvious shot at her unconventional game day attire and her perceived ignorance of the “SEC dress code”.

There is obviously tension between greeks and independents on this campus, and, frankly, it’s ridiculous.

We see this tension even in the online comments on the The Crimson White’s opinions section. Read the comments on any of the articles about the High Tide Club. Notice how High Tide supporters are blindly characterized as greek cronies (with alcohol problems, too) hell-bent on oppressing the poor man.

Notice also how the High Tide opponents are blindly characterized as complainers that are unwilling to participate in any form of campus activity.

We all have friends who are greek and friends that aren’t. On a day-to-day basis, the difference seems to matter very little. We collaborate on classroom projects and eat together in the dining halls, yet in the crowd of a football game or the secrecy of an online forum, we polarize again.

I can understand tension and competition between sports teams, clubs, and even greek houses, because factors like bragging rights, and more importantly, funding, are on the line.

I absolutely cannot understand nor support the reasoning behind greek-independent tension.

To the greeks: independents are not trying to crash your parties.

To the independents: greeks are not trying to disband your clubs.

I’ve never seen two groups try so hard to legitimize their own lifestyles.  You should see your own lifestyle as legitimate simply because you’re living it, not because you can knock the other party more than they can knock you.

We attend one of the best public schools in the country on a beautiful campus with top-notch professors and a national championship football team. It should go without saying that we have higher ideals to live up to than petty infighting.

SGA President James Fowler seems to recognize this. To his credit, he’s used the block seating issue to satisfy greeks by giving them their guaranteed lower bowl seats, and has attempted to satisfy non-greeks by giving sections of reserved seats to organizations like the Honors College and Air Force ROTC.

Yet Fowler is characterized as a scheming greek whose aisle-crossing is a façade, simply because the transparency he’s promised hasn’t been recognized in the mere 28 days of school we’ve had thus far.

There are many ways we can start to erode this tension. The first is trusting our SGA, not trashing their every move. Sure, we’ve seen the scandals of the past, many of which were perpetrated by greek students, but we have a new set of faces in office.

Let’s give the new administration the benefit of the doubt, at least for the time being, and unite behind issues like the new student organization seating by seeing them for their positives, rather than merely cherry picking the negatives.

Second, let’s keep the comments on The Crimson White pages civil. There will never be consensus, but in our comments we should try to show a bias for consensus rather than polarization.

Lastly, let’s try our hardest not to stereotype. It’s not a Sperry’s versus Vans world.

I would love nothing more than to see one body of students, not two, cheering on Trent Richardson as he tears up the Blue Devils.

Ben Friedman is a sophomore majoring in social entrepreneurship. His column runs bi-weekly on Wednesdays.

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