Thursday, February 21, 2013

in defense of the sorority girl

First, congratulations to Hullabaloo With 2's video winning my Harlem Shake video contest! Out of an even 100 votes, their video got 75% of the votes! 2nd place was 5 for Yell, and 3rd was MAC edition. Congratulations to all contestants, and I'll be posting a message on Hullabaloo With 2's video today.

Yesterday, Panhellenic posted a video featuring all the CPC sororities, encouraging girls to Go Greek. This video highlights each sorority, telling the audience its founding year, symbols, philanthropy events, and motto. It's a good video because it will give Potential New Members( PNMs) who go through recruitment in August a glimpse of Greek Life at Texas A&M. 

Sometimes, it can be really hard to a sorority girl at A&M. It’s probably easier to be in a sorority at schools like Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas, and other schools with a strong Greek community. But at A&M, a school overrun with engineers and Corps cadets, there is a lot of unnecessary judgment passed on students in Greek organizations. They say that we’re partiers. They say that we’re in cults. They say that we are all clones of each other and bear no original, intelligent thought. And it’s all just stereotypes.

There is a difference between a generalization and a stereotype (thank you, Criminology class). Generalizations describe probabilities. They are usually more accurate, neutral in judgment, may change over time, and there are always exceptions to them. On the other hand, stereotypes describe absolutes. They are usually inaccurate, biased, unchanging, and without exceptions. Generalization: Vineyard Vines sales are higher among students in Greek organizations. Stereotype: All Greeks wear Vineyard Vines. People tend to stereotype Greek students rather than generalizing, and it hinders the relationship between Greek students and non-Greek students.

It hurts when someone passes a judgment on me and my sisters because of our decision to go Greek. They label us instead of getting to know us. They assume things based on common misconceptions that aren’t necessarily true, and it’s not right. So, on behalf of my sisters and sorority women everywhere, here are some popular stereotypes about sorority girls that I’m going to debunk once and for all:

“All sorority girls wear oversized t-shirts, leggings as pants, norts, and other ‘typical’ sorority garb. It’s like a uniform.”

 While it is true that many sorority women choose to wear apparel that would usually be reserved for a workout at the Rec rather than day-to-day activities, there is no rule that says what a sorority woman “should” or “should not” wear. Many women in sororities choose to wear casual campus wear just like every other student, and many non-Greek women choose to wear t-shirts and norts. It is a personal preference, and most sorority women choose to wear these things out of pure comfort.

“All sorority girls are ditzy.”

While a fun social life is important to all Greek women, we first and foremost value scholarship, which was the primary reason for deciding to attend college. We work hard to maintain a high level of scholarship throughout our college careers, and are held accountable by our individual chapters, as well as by Panhellenic. Because of our commitment to academic excellence, Greeks have one of the top GPA averages at Texas A&M, as well as nationally.

“All sorority girls wear the same stuff, like the same things, and act the same way. There's no individuality.”

Like any student organization, Greek Life tends to attract the same kinds of women with similar interests and goals. Because of this, it can seem like "all sorority girls are the same" when this could not be further from the truth. One of the benefits of formal recruitment is a woman's experience choosing the right home for her; no two houses are the same, and neither are two potential members. But "birds of a feather flock together," so girls with similar backgrounds, hobbies, interests, priorities, and ambitions will naturally come together. A PNM is more likely to choose the house where she finds pieces of herself in her sisters. Likewise, Greek women are also a collective group of individuals who like, value, and enjoy the same types of things. 

“All sorority girls are partiers.”

Many girls who joined sororities didn’t do so for the “colorful social life.” Many joined as a way to get involved with philanthropy, meet new people, and excel past college. Saying that “all sorority girls are partiers” is like saying that ALL GIRLS are partiers, which is not true. Every girl is unique and comes from a different background. What’s fun for one girl may not be fun for another.

“All sorority girls are rich and buy their friends.”

While a typical stereotype for Greek women is that their daddies buy them whatever they want and their credit cards have no limit, many girls pay for their sorority themselves. Most sororities offer payment plans to make paying dues easier so that Greek Life can be affordable for everyone who wants to join. Just like any organization, dues are mandatory, but that doesn’t mean that sorority girls “buy their friends.” You can join a sorority, pay your dues, and not make a single friend. Sororities are national organizations that help collegiate women find a group of life-long friends.

 “TV shows and movies accurately portray Greek life.”

Movies like Sorority Wars, Legally Blonde, and The House Bunny and TV shows like GR∑∑K and Sorority Girls are entertaining but mostly portray the stereotypes surrounding Greek Life. While some things are based on reality, others are very far from the truth. If you ask any Greek student, he or she will say that many things in entertainment regarding Greek Life are simply far-fetched, and then explain what Greek Life is really like. You can’t always trust the media, but you can trust someone who is currently living the experience.  

The ideas that the general public has regarding Greek Life and sorority girls are simply generalizations – there is some truth, but there are exceptions to the “rules.” Sorority women are just like women from any other organization, except we base our friendships on the bonds of sisterhood, as well as shared interests and common goals. It is important to inform those who have been misinformed about the realities of Greek Life and debunk the myths underlying it.

Having fun with my amazing sisters!

If you’re Greek, that’s great. If you’re not, that’s great, too. Greek Life is not for everyone, but stereotyping does nothing to help bridge the gap between Greek and non-Greek; it just makes it worse. To the Greeks: please do your best to prove to others (and to yourselves) that you are above the stereotypes. To the non-Greeks: please do your best to respect our weird little sub-culture – we chose it because we like it. Maybe then we can be like other schools, where it’s okay to be Greek and okay not to be, rather than “it’s better to not be Greek.” Because being in a sorority is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, and that should be good enough for everyone.

Much love,

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