First off, I apologize for referring to you as a "sorority girl." Even given what I'm about to write below, I recognize that you already deal enough with the negative stereotypes associated with Greek life, and I’d like not to contribute to them. What I’m about to write may not even apply to you. However, I've also learned that clickbait titles are, well, clickbait, so bear with me here.
Second off, I do know some of you, but not very well. Even though rush didn't happen until second semester, it's funny that I didn't befriend many of you first semester. Or maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise. Maybe that's why I'm writing this letter. It seems like after a year, I still feel like I don't know about a large population of the school, and that bothers me. I heard a dean say, "I know of people who spend their entire time at Duke with people who are just like them," and I don't want to be one of them.
Demographically, I know a bit about you. Given that (at least) 85 percent of Greek life is white, nearly 40 percent of girls are involved with Greek life, and Duke is 50 percent white, I can conclude that nearly 70 percent (more precisely, 68 percent) of white girls are in a sorority, as opposed to 12 of minority girls. Use that information as you will. Race isn’t the only way to characterize Greek life, but it is the only one for which statistics exist.
I’m making generalizations again. Back on track:
I regularly get told that I don't seem like I’d fit in with the typical social culture at Duke, which is probably true. I'm going to assume that you do, at least more than me. For a long time, I was worried that you were the only type of person at Duke. Now at the end of my first year, I know better—a wise friend pointed out the extroverts were likely the ones you would likely see in the halls and that the people like me would likely have little reason to step out of your dorm room with.
I get that theoretically, it's not impossible for me to become friends with one of you. And maybe I don't even want become your best friend. But I remember sitting with you once with a mutual friend at Marketplace during breakfast. The conversation was painfully awkward (read: absolutely silent) until our friend asked you about a mixer happening that weekend. At the end of that conversation, I finally figured out what a mixer was. (Yikes.) Did I say anything during this conversation? Nope.
Besides, why would one of you have reason to be friends with me? We probably have different ideas of fun on Friday nights, we come from entirely different family backgrounds, and who knows what we could even talk about? I can’t quite imagine having the experiences where I learn the most about people—Marketplace conversations, dorm room chats, random walks around the quad—with you.
Ask anyone in my dorm and they would be able to point you guys out, even pre-rush. I was told at one point that I should write one of my columns about how "certain groups" monopolized my dorm’s common room. Maybe it was based on stereotypes, maybe it was based on actual conversations (most likely both), but for the most part, they turned out true. Now, near the end of second semester, post-rush, I see more of my friends in the common room.
Part of me feels like given this characterization, I wouldn’t have any reason to want to get to know you. But I realized that you're mostly going to be living on Central Campus next semester and that I will have even less reason to interact with you. And people tell me to not think about you, that you're all just shallow rich people who aren’t worth getting to know.
I was talking about you with a girl in my hall who said, "I don't know how they put up with it. They seem to have such shallow relationships,” after she heard from a friend in another sorority about how some sororities have “A”-lists and “B”-lists to send to different parties, ostensibly based on appearance. I may have defended you there, arguing that we didn’t actually know about you to make an accurate judgement.
Because even though you're the ones being loud on the third floor on my floor at 3 a.m. when I'm trying to sleep, and I could be perfectly happy spending the next three years never talking to you, something about never interacting with a large proportion of Duke also seems messed up too.
That random Asian girl in the common room without makeup on
P.S. I really am curious about these answers. If you'd like to respond, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Fan is a Trinity first-year. Her column, "fangirling" runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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Amy Fan is a Trinity senior. Her column, "fangirling," runs on alternate Thursdays.