Editor in chief Natalie Anderson and opinion editor Hannah Kleinpeter responded to feedback regarding Kyle Richoux’s column in a Letter from the Editors, which can be read here.
In review of my column concerning Greek Life, it became clear that the execution was in need of revision. I therefore offer this piece to more clearly deliver my thoughts and opinions.
Before I begin, however, I find it of the utmost importance to remember that my column was an opinion piece, not a news article or editorial. It is critical to understand that my writings do not reflect the opinions of The Daily Reveille or those of any organization I participate in. Negative responses toward me are fair, but hate toward the organizations I serve are not.
Now, the largest complaint that I have received is an accusation of misogyny. I admit my diction was harsh, but its intention was to criticize sexist systems that prey on women rather than to criticize the gender as a whole. Moreover, my criticism was of a controllable behavior, not of women in general. To set the record straight, my use of the word “cattle” was meant to refer to flocks of identical people thinking the same way. I did not intend for it to be read as “cows,” and I believe such body-shaming has no place in argumentative discussion.
To that end, I believe the real issue is my column’s wide generalizations. Just like I do not represent the thoughts and opinions of my organizations, Greek Life organizations and their reputations do not represent all of their members. Every group of people is filled with unique individuals, and Greek Life is no different.
However, even some Greek Life participants admit that Greek Life is a monocultural society that ushers members to fit a select mold.
Before I go any further, I’d like to address the complaint that I did not do proper research for this column. This would be an incredibly valid criticism if my column were not an opinion piece and therefore inherently based in personal bias.
But, research does lend credibility. To that end, I found many of your responses, both public and private, to be quite educational. There were supporters and respectful critics, but there was also a fair share of hostile opponents.
Large numbers of people did some research on me and attacked my background, history and personal life. As good as ad hominem feels, it doesn’t prove a point.
Some responses do prove a point, however. Large numbers of Greek Life members told me that I only think the way I do because I’m unworthy for Greek Life, that I wouldn’t fit in and that I wouldn’t belong. I was accused of dividing the public, but from the content of these comments, Greek Life would prefer to stay separated from those not born worthy. If my stereotypes don’t convince you fraternities are glorified yacht clubs, their exclusionary and condescending attitudes should.
The worst responses by far were the threats of physical harm sent my way. Yes, several opponents sent me private messages saying they would physically attack me if they saw me or heard me voice my opinion in public. This behavior makes it clear that kindness and generosity are not on the top of their priority lists.
Raising money for charities is a good thing. Big businesses often donate money to public works or charities, but you’d be hard-pressed to call them altruistic. When their regular practices are predatory, exclusionary and dismissive of anyone outside of their sphere of influence, donations feel more like buying indulgences than altruism. Who goes on to become those greedy fat cat businessmen? Greeks, I’m told.
My original intent was to bring the Greek Life system to task, to call out an arrogant culture for its disdain toward the public and its negligence within its own ranks. The column in question was provocative, but the sheer amount of support it received even in the face of widespread vilification suggests there is a problem. The language I used was strong, but it speaks to the social outrage present in the column’s supporters. Many people felt walked over and made out to be lesser by Greek Life, and I’m proud to have been able to give voice to those people.
I am not proud, however, of the wild overgeneralizations I committed. While I am not a reporter, such mistakes should be avoided by anyone trying to make any arguments. I hope now that I have tempered my tone and attempted to clarify muddy statements, we can turn the hate train I had callously convened into a platform for discussion. The wellbeing of all students is vital to a healthy and happy society, and it should never be drowned out by issues of political correctness.
To conclude, I do not apologize for the column. For the sake of liberty, I simply cannot. I have the right to hold whatever opinion I do and to use whatever language I choose to convey it, just as you have the right to criticize me over social media and email accounts, and just as my supporters have the right to agree with me. That is the price of freedom. At the end of the day, we have the tools to stand against tyranny, and I’ll be damned if I throw that away just because people get offended.
Kyle Richoux is a 20-year-old sociology junior from LaPlace, Louisiana.