The Greek community at Geneseo encompasses 13 percent of the student body. That's a large figure, and so it's inevitable to see Greek letters around campus – people wearing phi this, chi that, sigma something or other. The Greek community is its own entity inside the college system and although somewhat independent it's important to remember that its members are first and foremost Geneseo students.
In March 2009 both the Greek and Geneseo community experienced a great loss. Nineteen-year-old sophomore Arman Partamian died from alcohol poisoning while pledging an unsanctioned fraternity. His death was both untimely and unexpected, and as such, a wake-up call to many who had been indulging in the same behavior. Naturally many changes were made in both spheres; Greek parties became closed and Geneseo became stricter with enforcing laws and policies. His death was perceived to be within the Greek sphere and therefore his death was mapped as exclusively a Greek loss.
An event called U-Knighting for Change began in honor of Partamian's memory. The week's events include guest speakers and seminars designed to make a difference. Monday night a speaker discussed how he killed his three best friends while drinking and driving. The seminar was powerful and a major eye-opener for all students in attendance. Tuesday night police officers were brought in to talk about laws and policies around Geneseo so students can protect themselves. The week will also contain a vigil for Partamian on Friday.
The speakers were informative, interesting and definitely necessary for college students to hear. The only problem was that these events were not publicized for the entire campus, but were almost strictly advertised to Greek organizations. As we applaud the effort to make a change and honor the memory of Partamian, we have to remember that his death affected everyone. Greek or not, his death was mourned and the campus itself had to deal with the reality of losing one of its own. Events like these are important for all who want to be involved, not merely one sub-set of the whole Geneseo community.
We ask the Greek community to make events like these, which are so beneficial, to be openly accessible to all of us, regardless of whether or not we wear letters.