an open letter to the women and men who rushed,
a plea and call to vigilance.

dear: complicit youth,
from: recently depledged, forever unaffiliated,

one of my female friends wanted to rush bg
because all her friends were rushing bg
and she didn’t want to miss out on an experience essential to group friendship.
she heard what happened to them.
she heard them cry.
later on she heard them lie.
they looked her in the eye and lied as their friendships crinkled up and died.

in the wake of rolling stones,
i saw friends defend union through exclusion,
heard them defend driving forces by advocating that they volunteered,
felt them with my thin skin defend self-conscious secrecy with my ensured ignorance.
saving face? no saving grace arrays you now
this hazy cloud is difficult to see through,
which is clever.

i am clever too.
i’ve learned that:
silence clauses rip you like sinews snipped;
silence causes collective ignorance, fear, and Othering,
this violence pauses any progress;
this violence is more than plausibly beating us bloody in isolation.
call it collection.
call it community.
call it close.
call it house.
call it yours.
call it possession.
call it strong, old, tradition.
call it your prerogative, your right, your expectation, your entitlement.
call it greek.
call it safe space … safe space to perpetuate.

i do not wish to pay for my friendships.
true friends cannot be bought.
can’t buy me love, can’t buy me friends.
can buy me connections, networking, and material ends.

affiliation takes money,
affiliation takes time,
affiliation takes the time you could be spending earning money.
affiliation is for those who already have money
and for those who want badly enough for everyone else to think they already have money.
most of these people are white,
and they’re white because of white welfare
like the GI Bill and redlining and subsidised suburbs,
but you won’t hear the US government calling the Highway Act
welfare for white people.
you won’t hear marriage,
and its greek derivative “wedding tails” called
welfare for straight people.
you won’t hear new hampshire’s discrimination laws,
or the binary of sororities and fraternities, called
welfare for cis-gendered people.
you won’t hear control of alcohol flow called
welfare for male people.

mitläufer is the german word for people who ‘run along.’
‘sheeple’ is the closest english translation,
but the heart of mitläufer lies in seeing wrong, saying nothing, then walking in step.
mitläufer is open-eyed guilt.
mitläufer is understanding that injustice exists then watching CSI,
understanding that climate change is anthropogenic then continuing at the same rate of consumption,
paying taxes for wars you disagree with.
mitläufer is complicity.

i was a member of a greek house.
when i rushed
i thought,
as long as the system exists,
i must make it the best it can be.

i no longer take for granted and eternal the existence of this system.
and i refuse to reinforce it.
i thought groups of women would balance groups of men.
when will we learn that separate but equal is a lie?
i thought i fit comfortably as Woman,
but this system strengthens a gender binary i neither support nor subscribe to.
i thought we needed communities small enough to care.
but the in-group defined by each house exists only in opposition to an out-group.

i couldn’t handle my complicity,
so i’m finished with mitläufer;
i’m done with discrimination.

what kind of pledge will you make?

~ by anna winham


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