Since I went through recruitment, I've stumbled across many stereotypes about Greek life. Some are understandable, some are absolutely ridiculous, and in light of recent things that have been said and done and with formal recruitment for women coming up, I think it's best to shed some light on these kinds of stereotypes.
The truth is that although some Greek organizations may embody the stereotypes, given the huge culture revolving around Total Frat Move, the majority is truly just a crock of bull. Greek life is so much more than the stereotype people think it is.
The truth is... You don't. You really don't! Of course there's some stereotypes perpetuated on our campus, such as the typical "frat star" or the dreaded term, "sorostitute," -- the negative stereotypes that include unmistakable confidence and dare I say, "sketchy," but I promise you that there's so much more to Greek life than that, and to judge a person on what fraternity or sorority* they're in is very unfair.
There's many types of personalities in the Greek communities. All types of majors, races, religions, and backgrounds make up the Greek community. 66 organizations and growing... 1 community. The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association said it best, "As you go through recruitment, you will surely notice that no two sororities/fraternities are made up of members who are all alike. Each chapter has its own sense of diversity and individuality. However, you will notice a common bond among the members of each chapter that is also unique and private."
*It's not "frat" or "soror," it's fraternity and sorority. I totes love abbreviations, but we need to start referring to these organizations by their full name. "There's a very stark difference between a frat and a fraternity." (Read this Indiana Daily Student commentary piece, "The good, the frat, and the ugly," by Eduardo Salas.)
The truth is... although pop culture makes us think that Greek organizations are strictly about parties, I don't think any member of the Greek community parties or is more promiscuous than a non-Greek*. The social activities may be the same, just the venue is different. I know many people in Greek organizations who are perfectly capable of maintaining long-term relationships and restraining their alcohol. I know many who don't drink at all. Also, people often forget that, like everyone else, those in Greek communities also have homework, exams and projects. We all have the same academic commitments. All in all, there's not much of a difference between Greeks and non-Greeks when it comes to social activities, so why the divide?
With that being said, one shouldn't join a Greek organization because they want to "party more." Greek life is meant to be social, but there's so much more to it than that.
*Note: I don't believe in using the term "GDI," or in other words, "god damn Independent." It's a derogatory term that some Greeks use to identify those who are non-Greek, which is unnecessary and it also suggests that anyone in a Greek organization can't be independent, which is false. Independence is a good thing, and it's something that should not have a negative connotation.
The truth is... Just because someone belongs to a sorority or fraternity, doesn't mean that they don't or can't have friends outside of their chapter or Greek community.
Ever heard of Indiana University Dance Marathon? Not only is it one of the the greatest displays of college students doing something positive, such as raising money for Riley's Children Hospital, but it also brings everyone together. Run entirely by students, Greeks and non-Greeks work together every year to ensure that IUDM helps make miracles FTK (for the kids). IUDM is the second largest student-run philanthropy in the nation. Congrats to all of those who participated this past weekend! $2.6 million?! That's incredible!
The truth is... At IU, to be eligible to go through recruitment, potential members must have a 2.7 GPA, a C+ average. Even after recruitment, chapters require that members attain a certain GPA to be a member in good-standing. Also, most chapters require members to complete a certain number of study hours a month, depending on their GPA. Grade release details can be found here. These requirements are extra motivation to do well in academics, and I know many who go above and beyond.
As for the narrow-mindedness... Did you know that IU was one of the first universities in the Midwest to start a chapter of Sigma Phi Beta, a fraternity for gay, straight, bisexual and transgender men in college? When SPB had their drag show benefit for the Indiana Gay Youth, a safehouse for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in Indy, 250 people came to watch and support them. The majority being members of the Greek community.
And I mean, Elle Woods took off Greek Week to study for her LSATs... and got into Harvard!
The truth is... With a lot of organizations, there are some fees that are required to keep the organization running. As a member of IU's Public Relations Student Society of America, I have to pay $60 in membership dues - $50 goes to nationals, $10 to the chapter. These may go towards anything that we do as a chapter, whether it's a bonding event or professional event. Did you know that as a first-year student at IU, you are required to live in the residence halls, and with that, comes an activity fee, which is billed to your bursar? These fees go toward anything you might do with your residence floor or any events that are put on in your building. Without these fees, your chapter organization, your floor, your sorority or fraternity may not be able to offer as many activities or sponsor any events that aim to develop and enrich student life. In a Greek organization, dues may cover housing (if they have a house, and you choose to live there), it goes to nationals, and they also cover chapter operations, such as philanthropy events or sisterhood/brotherhood activities. The dues do not go straight to your brothers' or sisters' pockets.
Benefits that you can't really put a price on? Outstanding friendships, leadership opportunities and character building.
The truth is... Bottom line is you don't. IU has a zero tolerance policy on hazing, and if you find yourself in a situation like that, report it immediately. You shouldn't have to degrade yourself to be a part of an organization.
At the end of the day, we're all Hoosiers. It's not okay to attack one another based on religion, sexual orientation and race, so why must we judge one another based on the organizations we choose to join? Greek life isn't for everyone, and some chapters on this campus are different from others. To judge everyone in the Greek system based on a few bad reputations and stories is extremely unfair. Personally, being a part of Greek life has made my life better, as I have some pretty amazing sisters that set the standard pretty high in terms of academics, professionalism, leadership and community service. I consider it motivation to reach that standard. I've also branched out more, and I encourage a lot of people to go outside their comfort zone by trying something like Greek life out.
To those who are interested in going Greek, keep an open mind when visiting the different fraternities and sororities! Do your research, too. If you're not going through the recruitment process, I hope I've at least knocked down the stereotypes many people have.
Take care, Hoosiers!