As a member of a Greek organization, I've encountered various stereotypes about Greek Life since I first went through recruitment (also known as rush). These range from the understandable to the completely absurd, and I'll get to those later. What really irks me is that many of these stereotypes are started and perpetuated by things such as the media or one person's experience, things that can be radically different from what going Greek is really about. In my opinion, this fact can lead members of Greek life to subconsciously embody these stereotypes, simply because it seems like that's what sorority and fraternity life is supposed to be.
House parties, mixers, hazing, drinking, sex...what seems to be forgotten are the positive facts about going Greek, and there are many. A whole article could be dedicated to someone's opinion on why going Greek is amazing, but I'm not here to write specifically about that. What I am here to write about are the most common stereotypes that apply to sororities in particular and why these stereotypes are not always truth. (It's also worth mentioning that stereotypes can vary from campus-to-campus and person-to-person, depending on individual experiences.)
Also, I am by no means saying that being in a sorority makes for a better college experience. It's a personal choice and really depends on the person. Sororities aren't for everyone after all. With that said, let's jump into it!
Stereotype #1: Joining a sorority means paying for friends.
This is the most common stereotype I hear. So where to start...how about with dues or membership fees? As with any organization, funds are required to keep a sorority up and running. Each sorority has a national executive office to whom we pay our dues. A breakdown of these payments would most commonly show housing payments (if the organization has one on campus) and membership payments, which cover chapter operations such as philanthropy events and sisterhood activities (rituals, etc.).
What dues do not cover is friendship. I know it seems that sorority girls become best friends right away, what with the cheers, t-shirts, etc. after rush. I feel like this is due to the overall excitement that comes with joining. The new members are excited to join, and the older members are excited (and I mean excited) to have new sisters. We like to express that! Of course, you won't automatically be best friends with everyone, but overall, you get out what you put into a sorority. If you never go to any events or make an effort to make friends, than you won't have as many. Simple as that. In most cases, the friends you meet in a sorority are ultimately more valuable than any price you could pay.
Stereotype #2: Sorority girls are dumb/don't care about class and doing well in school.
I'd say this one comes almost directly from the media (hello, Legally Blonde.) Girls in sororities are depicted as dumb bimbos who somehow scrape by to get a degree. It makes for a good movie, but in reality, there are often academic requirements that come with being part of a sorority. At many schools, you need a certain GPA in order to even sign up for rush. Once in a sorority, you must maintain a certain GPA (which varies between sororities), often higher than the one used for rush, or else you may lose certain privileges. Another common occurrence is the use of study hours. Based on your GPA at the beginning of the semester, you need to complete a certain number of study hours.
In my experience, these demands are just extra motivation to do well in school and not screw up, and many girls go above and beyond the minimum GPA requirement. Additionally, the all-sorority GPA on a campus is often equal to or higher than the overall collegiate GPA, and this fact is listed on many schools' Greek life websites. Many famous politicians, authors, entrepreneurs and the like were a part of Greek Life in college, and hey -- even Elle Woods got into Harvard Law!
Stereotype #3: Sorority girls party/sleep around excessively.
Ah, the media strikes again. I don't think the average sorority girl parties more than any other college student. After all, they do have the same or similar academic commitments. I suppose it seems that sorority members party more based on the fact that there are often events such as Greek Week, in which there are mixers almost every day, and then date parties, formals, etc. These don't happen every weekend though, and sorority life is composed of so much more than partying and mixers. The fact that events such as Greek Week are often advertised and talked about for weeks beforehand probably adds to the "party all the time" cliché, as well as the general publicity, for lack of a better word, that comes with wearing letters. For example, if someone sees you in class in your letters, and then sees you wasted at a party, your sorority will probably be one of the first things they remember about you.
As for the sleeping around...why sororities in particular? As we all know, college campuses can often be hotbeds of sexual activity for Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Again, I think this is a result of the "publicity" of Greek events, in which sororities and fraternities often mix. Combined with the sex-crazed frat bro stereotype, it only seems logical that all girls in Greek life fulfill the "sorostitute" role, right? Wrong. Like anyone else, sorority girls are capable of long-term relationships and restraint when it comes to sex. This is a matter of not letting a few select people affect how you view the much larger group they are a part of.
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