Last Friday Night? Yeah, we should do that all again.
Why should we have another night just like Friday, filled with frat parties, non-Greek parties and lots of ridiculous costumes swarming Eagle Row? First, and probably most importantly (let’s be real), because Katy Perry has told us to and that’s basically how I make my life choices.
Secondly, because the fraternity party hosted by Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) and Kappa Alpha Theta (KAT) also hosted their party with Emory Pride.
Let me say that again, in over 150 years there is no known documentation of a Greek organization throwing a party with a non-Greek organization on campus.
And they threw it with Pride.
This party wasn’t just a collaboration between two types of students groups that has never happened before, but ATO and KAT went further and chose to by collaborating with a community that hasn’t felt invited, or honestly even safe, in Greek spaces in recent years.
Let’s refresh some memories, as only seniors may remember that during our very first semester on campus, fall 2010, was Greek life’s last run in with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community: a situation in which a gay student was thrown out of a party, physically, while homophobic slurs were hurled at them.
An act of violence that was met with a round of applause from the other partygoers.
People said that overall this was an unfair characterization of Greek life; people said that not every fraternity was the same and people were quoted as saying that honestly Greek life was “at least as good as other places” or “reasonably tolerant.” Well, people who didn’t have to worry whether their sexual orientation would bring them harm or not were saying such things.
Now, only three years later, the LGBTQ community is able to agree; we now know that not all Greeks or Greek organizations are the same. Okay, yes, Greek life isn’t all-inclusive; yes, it’s got work to do, but this was an incredibly powerful first step.
The coolest part of all of this to me is that you, the person reading this, probably didn’t even know this happened. You may not have heard about it, you may not have known that Pride was a host, you may still never step foot in a fraternity house after your freshman year.
And that’s really why this is so cool, because it was just a party.
This was not a formal meeting; we weren’t sitting down to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.
We weren’t trying to pretend that we were Campus Life professionals with five different degrees in our signature, and we weren’t trying to “create inclusive spaces” and “be a community of care.”
We were all just college kids having fun on a Friday night.
And now the LGBTQ community knows that they can have fun on campus at a Greek party too. Or at least they will be able to as long as leaders, like Brian Diener and the brothers of ATO and Jingjing Lin and the sisters of KAT, continue to rise up not just within the Greek community but also the larger Emory community.
Josh Bergeleen is a Goizueta Business School senior from Austin, Texas.
Illustration by Max Cohen