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The battle for greek row rages on

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Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 12:00 am

“Revenge of the Nerds,” a classic 1984 film, is about a group of college nerds who are exiled from their dorm rooms and in turn fight back for peace and self-respect by forming their own fraternity. 

Western senior Scott Bushey described this movie as a catalyst in the formation of Lambda Lambda Lambda, a social fraternity in Bellingham that is in the process of becoming an Associated Students club.

Bushey, along with other Western students, started a Facebook page last year called “Western Students for a Greek System.”         

“Unfortunately, we found the prevailing campus atmosphere to be extremely anti-Greek, which we found to be very unfair,” he said. “We are not about drinking and hazing and these other stereotypes that people associate with Greek life.”

Co-founders Garrett Franzen and James Wood came on board after attending Bushey’s meeting for Western Students for a Greek System and the three collaborated to form the first West Coast Tri-Lambda chapter. 

“Fraternity is a Latin word for brotherhood,” Franzen said. “I know people think about this whole stereotype of what a fraternity is, but I think it just stands for a group of people who have similar ideals and they try to work together for a common cause.” 

Tri-Lambda was founded in 2006 at the University of Connecticut and currently has a total of five chapters. 

Wood said if there were a Greek system, he would have been hesitant to support it in the past. However, now that he has been on the inside and can see how a fraternity functions as a whole, he supports it. 

The Greek system generally attaches a negative connotation to the word “frat,” Bushey said.

Western post baccalaureate Lacey Sunderland said she doesn’t like the Greek system because it splits the campus into two different groups. 

“We have a very open system here where everyone is pretty friendly and I feel like a Greek system would disrupt that,” she said. 

Born and raised in Bellingham, Susan Harris, Gamma Phi Beta freshman at the University of Washington, lives on Greek Row. 

“Ninety-nine percent of the people I talk to hate the dorms at UW, so that’s why I decided to go Greek,” she said. 

Despite the 40,000 student population, the Greek system at UW only encompasses about 5 percent of the students, Harris said.  

“[Greek row] is so prominent that when social people join the dorm, they are instantly repelled by it [dorms] because there’s a more social side to the university in the Greek community,” she said. 

According to a 1982 referendum, 85.4 percent of students voted not in favor of the formation of fraternities and sororities on campus.  

Western senior Sam Mandler said a Greek system would help Western become more organized in terms of clubs and activities that occur around campus. 

“A Western frat system would take a lot of the good parts of fraternities and take on some of the Western characteristics as well,” he said. 

Franzen said their social fraternity mission is to tear down stereotypes. 

“I know they say [Western is] diverse as it is, but Western should provide an opportunity for people with all different aspects to start their own thing,” he said. 

Western Admissions Counselor Colin Watrin said each university is there to offer students a different type of college experience. Whether Greek life is a part of that or not depends on the individual, he said. 

Harris said Western is unique because it has a stronger community than most universities and functions well without having a Greek system. 

“There is not that alternative community,” she said. “Western itself is a community as a whole and not subdivided into different organizations like the Greek communities at UW. I feel that adding a Greek system to Western would add an entirely different aspect and less people would be able to mesh.” 

When Watrin travels around the nation to recruit future Vikings, he mentions to students that Western is a very student-driven campus.

“The students have a lot of say as to what happens, so if the students decided that’s what they wanted I’d like to think the university would support that,” he said. 

Bushey said when he tells people he’s the president of a fraternity, people immediately tend to assume negative things. He wants people to interact with Tri-Lambda and find out what they’re about, which is the stated purpose of the fraternity: the enjoyment and enrichment of pop-culture through community service projects and a form of brotherhood. 

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