Attitudes about sororities and fraternities are quite polarized—something akin to Congress 2013. As a member of Greek life, I find this disheartening. However, I am not surprised.
I went to a small, farm town high school and although I found the thought of being part of a sorority interesting I never actually thought I would join one. My only experience with these organizations came from TV shows and movies (which weren’t positive). For example, Legally Blonde showed out-of-touch, Barbie doll Elle Woods leaving her sunny, Californian college in her Porsche to attend Harvard Law School. The purpose wasn’t to study law but to get her bonehead boyfriend back. She had a good LSAT score but she conned her way into Harvard Law with a pink, perfumed resume and an application tape that showed her wearing a bikini. She loved sparkly things, had a Chihuahua that wore clothes, and talked really fast in a high-pitched voice. She was Greek.
John Belushi starred in the “classic” film Animal House as a member of the struggling fraternity Delta Tau Chi. The Delta Tau Chis were a band of misfits. They were in danger of being kicked off campus due to poor grades and overall bad behavior. They wore togas and made out with any female available. After a party, they took the mayor’s 13-year old daughter home in a shopping cart. They were rowdy and stupid. They were Greek.
This is the widespread perception of Greek life. Not only is it inaccurate but it is embarrassing. Most members of the Greek community grimace when the association is mentioned and the executives at national fraternity headquarters shake their heads.
I honestly didn’t think that my piece last week would stir up such a maelstrom—a simple piece on how some of my generation are lacking in some basic skills, how sorority recruitment can be useful in teaching them, and how this experience can help in a job interview. I cannot pretend to have any perspective other than the one I have; which is that I went to a little college in a rural town and I joined a sorority because it banished every preconceived notion I had about Greek Life. I also learned some things.
This article wasn’t crazy stuff but it garnered a lot of comments. However, most of these were the stuff of Greek life stereotypes—spawned from fictional situations and people in movies. Things that I also used to believe about sororities and fraternities. However, in my college sorority, I didn’t drive a Porsche or have a Gucci-wearing dog. I never wore a toga. Most of us paid our own dues (which covered the mortgage on our house, utilities, and food for the chapter). Most of us graduated with a job, went on to law school, medical school, or teaching. Nobody joined just to get her “MRS.” Our sorority wasn’t the most popular or the one that everyone wanted to “get in to.” Our members weren’t all Vogue-model thin, beauty queens, rich, or fit into the made-up “sorority mold.”
What is this “sorority/fraternity mold” anyhow?
It is Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. Someone who is stick thin, rich, and a little annoying. It is hard-partying John “Bluto” Blutarsky from Animal House. It is scantily-clad girls wearing glitter headbands, forcing younger girls to drink, and subsequently ending up in hospitals with alcohol poisoning. It is fraternity brothers bullying younger members. This is what Hollywood thinks all sororities and fraternities are like–and this is what most of the public believes.
Sororities and Fraternities are fake, full of superficial people, and are useless money-sucks.
I hear you.
Honestly, some are, but, not all.