Sisters of Chi Omega at Rollins College hang out at their sorority house in Winter Park, Fla., in October 2011.
The best compliment I ever received in college wasn’t praise for a good test grade or a positive review on an essay — it was that I had changed someone’s opinion about sorority girls.
Across college campuses, there is a stigma attached to Greek life that’s hard to shake — and sometimes rightfully so. Notorious for the debauchery portrayed by television, movies and the media, going Greek is the quintessential college experience everyone loves to hate. However, there are four common stereotypes about Greek life that can be debunked.
• “Greeks only care about themselves.”
When you join a Greek organization, you not only represent your chapter, but you represent important causes. Greek organizations make up the largest network of volunteers in the U.S., donating more than 10 million hours of volunteer service each year. Many fraternities and sororities have specific philanthropies they’re directly involved with, and the impact those chapters have on those charities is significant.
Greek students raise more than $7 million each year for various organizations, according to Baylor University’s Greek-life information site. Each semester fraternities and sororities work to raise money for their specific charity, and they have a good time doing it. Events like dance competitions, baseball tournaments and benefit concerts pepper a Greek student’s weekly planner, but it’s not for nothing. These events have been known to raise money and awareness for philanthropies that may not have otherwise received aid. Organizations such as Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation all have national representation from Greek chapters.
• “Greek life isn’t taken seriously in the professional world.”
As you enter the workforce post-grad, every advantage you can have above the competition is crucial, and your extracurricular work can be the difference between trash bin and the interview slot.
As of 2012, more than 9 million people nationally are part of the Greek system, according to George Washington University’s Greek-life website. That’s a large network of people you may be able to connect with when pursuing a career. Your experience shows leadership, commitment and professionalism to the working world, and it can be a great topic of conversation during an interview. Additionally, Greek life can be a helpful asset to your initial job search. Members of alumni chapters are excellent resources when it comes to finding businesses who are hiring or for seeking career advice. You never know — someone from your Greek organization may be looking to hire a recent college grad at his or her company.
• “Greeks don’t branch out beyond their social circle.”
Most chapters have requirements for their members that they must be involved in other groups on campus in addition to their fraternity or sorority. These clubs ensure that individuals stay active within their college community and give students the opportunity make a difference at their university. Nationwide, more than 85% of student leaders are also involved in the Greek community, according to a Greek-life information guide from East Carolina University. Many Greeks are active in student government, honor societies and advocacy groups on campus.
Being involved in a Greek organization also provides opportunities to make a difference in the Greek community. Members have a chance to hold leadership positions in their respective Greek councils and help plan Greek-wide events — all which help to better your resume and yourself.
• “Sororities and fraternities are notorious partiers.”
It’s the stigma that’s depicted in countless TV shows and movies: the idea that if you’re in Greek life, your main priority is partying. While there are incidents that solidify this notion, there is rarely information presented about what Greeks are doing to combat it. It would be naïve to say that partying doesn’t occur — in any college setting — but when it becomes too much, Greek organizations can actually induce more good than harm.
Many chapters have programs in place that provide support and help for members battling substance abuse or other disorders. These programs and committees provide members confidential ways to seek advice and find the proper avenues to receive help. Many fraternities and sororities host educational programming about the dangers of drinking and partying, and even offer alternative events multiple times a semester. In a Greek organization, members have an entire chapter standing behind them in order to find the help they may need — and that’s better than facing it alone.
In reality, Greek life on the whole rarely lives up to the stereotypes. There is usually more studying than partying. Most nights in a sorority house include popcorn instead of pillow fights and an episode of The Bachelor instead of the ones at a bar. And while there are those individuals who give a reason for the stereotype, there’s always a larger group of Greeks who will be working to fight that misconception.
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