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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: It’s not all that Greek to me

Jenny Surane is the 2014-15 Editor-in-Chief. She is a senior business journalism major from Cornelius.

Jenny Surane is the 2014-15 Editor-in-Chief. She is a senior business journalism major from Cornelius.

Earlier this month, we were a mostly white newspaper creating a race issue. Today, we’re a mostly non-Greek newspaper creating a Greek issue.

It’s a reductive way of looking at it, and the topics are vastly different. But our reason for doing this issue is largely the same as it was then. For better or for worse, we’re responsible for documenting the issues at this University accurately and fairly.

And students involved in Greek life make up almost 20 percent of this campus.

Now historically, The Daily Tar Heel and Greek organizations have been at odds.

Some Greek organizations believe we don’t provide enough coverage. Others believe our coverage is meant to be antagonistic.

For these folks, my door and my inbox are always open. We do our best to cover Greek organizations equally and fairly — from hazing allegations to successful philanthropy events to the annual Bid Day celebrations.

I’ll be the first to say it. While I might not be intimately aware of the different governing procedures Greek organizations use, I in no way dislike Greek organizations. Rather, I appreciate the important function they serve in fostering lifelong friendships among college students.

But the fact of the matter is that Greek organizations have an entire department dedicated to overseeing them at the University. There are whole systems in place for adjudicating issues like hazing and the use of alcohol and drugs at fraternities and sororities. And, to zero in on the topic we explore on today’s front page and in our editorial, experts have repeatedly shown that members of sororities are assaulted at a much higher rate than those who aren’t.

And we have to cover that.

Like many of the experts we quoted today, I will be the first to say that it’s tough to cover these topics accurately and fully. There’s a huge gap in information and scholarly research available about Greek organizations.

At UNC, we’re probably luckier than most. Our campus is at the center of a national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, forcing the issue to the forefront of our campus consciousness.

Indeed, in a recent meeting with the heads of the Panhellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council and the Greek Alliance Council, I learned that the presidents of our Greek chapters recently met and discussed ways to prevent sexual assault among members of Greek organizations.

But even in the reporting of this issue, I know of at least one sorority that issued a gag order to its members — preventing them from speaking to any members of the press for any reason. Instead, they asked members to filter all media requests through the sorority’s publicity chair. I’m looking at you, Alpha Delta Pi.

It’s the people these issues impact most who often refuse to participate in helping expose these problems — even if that exposure would mean finding a solution to these issues.

So I guess that’s what this issue is about — opening the door for a more transparent conversation. It’s about encouraging people with compelling stories to tell to come forward.

It’s about pressuring people in power to find comprehensive solutions to these issues that affect 20 percent of this campus.

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