Letter to the editor: Trinity historically prone to bad publicity while good goes unnoticed

Dear Editor,

Last week, I read a San Antonio Express-News article about Greek misbehavior at Trinity. I feel like I read a similar article last year, and the year before that and not that long ago I was writing and editing the same articles for the Trinitonian. It’s become an all too regular occurrence, a semi-annual ritual of sorts ““ Greeks screw around and make statewide news.

It doesn’t bother me that Greeks do stupid things. I’ve seen “Animal House.” I think the Greeks take it way too far, but I get the basic idea. What does bother me is that barely a quarter of the campus has so thoroughly dominated the public discussion of the entire university. That undermines the name recognition and value of a Trinity diploma, and it has got to stop.

We’re only ever in the news for Greek drama. We’ve become known, effectively, as a rich-kid academy with a debaucherous social scene. That’s not fair to all the students who work and study hard every week, and it’s especially unfair to recent graduates hoping to leverage their challenging education for a rewarding career.

As a Ph. D student who studies the media, there are important questions at play here. Why is that “spoiled rich kid” frame so powerful? Why are journalists so prone to take up a cliché story? Why is that narrative so easily available? As an academic, those questions are fascinating.

As an alum, I don’t care. Not one bit.

They’re obstacles, the facts on the ground impeding better recognition for our university. And until we do a much better job of proposing our own counter-narratives, the Greeks will continue to define Trinity University. It’s the same exact scenario that other private schools like TCU, Rice and Baylor face every day, and they’re in the news all the time for positive achievements. Why aren’t we?

We have an English professor serving on the State Board of Education, a History professor who’s a renowned expert on Syrian president-turned-Palpatine Bashar al-Asad and a religion professor who spends his summers excavating Israeli architecture. We have world leaders and top scientists speak on campus every semester. Yet, somehow, we spent years bragging that we’re the “best kept secret in Texas,” and then we evolved to let boozing and hazing set our reputation.

I can only imagine how much time and energy go into monitoring and punishing the Greek community. Can we spend all those resources improving our image instead?

Marcus Funk graduated from Trinity in 2007 with a degree in Communication, political science and international studies. He is currently pursuing his Ph. D in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.