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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Addressing greek life misconceptions on the UA campus

    Alex McIntyre
    Potential members gather outside of the Delta Gamma house on Aug. 20, 2015. Stereotypes are commonly directed toward greek life members on college campuses.

    Arts & Life reporter Hannah Djavadi and Opinions columnist Rhiannon Bauer go head to head on greek life stereotypes on the UA campus.

    Stereotype #1: Greek members are “dumb”

    Rhiannon Bauer: Other college students tend to assume that greek life is why sorority women and fraternity men don’t measure up when it comes to things like intelligence. Even if greek members average a higher GPA than non-greek members, this isn’t enough to break the stereotype. The statistic could simply be due to involvement in something extracurricular. 

    It’s fine if greek life doesn’t make members smarter—an organization may be better at enriching a person socially in ways completely unrelated to academics, but there is a fine line between healthy socializing and wasting time partying, and it seems like sororities and fraternities flirt with that line quite a bit.

    Although greek life members may argue that, it’s hard to completely ignore the rumors. When you see the way so many of the women dress to go to these parties, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to network or do anything related to bettering themselves. 

    Hannah Djavadi: Sorority women are consistently negatively stereotyped when it comes to academics.

    “At the University of Arizona, the overall average GPA for greek members is a 3.2, compared to a 2.9 for non-greek members,” said Gretchen Proulx, a junior studying family studies and human development with a minor in Spanish and studio arts and the UA Panhellenic Council’s vice president of New Member Services.

    Greek organizations place high importance on academics and provide study programs and scholarship resources for all members.

    Stereotype #2: Greek members are superficial and lack emotional substance

    RB: Many UA greek life communities make significant contributions to charities and other nonprofit organizations. Members volunteer, make donations and participate in fundraising events for good causes.

    However, it cannot be ruled out that sororities and fraternities that use point systems run the risk of their members only taking part to meet a minimum required amount of participation. If point systems were entirely nonexistent throughout all greek organizations, then participation in philanthropic events would reflect on them more positively. But as it stands, you can’t know a person’s true reasons for helping out. Do they want to cure cancer, or do they want to attend the formal and need the points to do it?

    HD: Sorority women and fraternity men raise over $7 million each year nationally that is donated to causes in need. On the UA campus alone, Sigma Alpha Epsilon president and finance junior Ben Disbrow said Splash and Pass, a philanthropy that raises money to cover the medical funds for children who are battling cancer, raised over $17,000 in its recent event.

    Furthermore, The Sigma Kappa Foundation and the women of Sigma Kappa raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and Delta Gamma emphasizes the importance of its philanthropic events dedicated to funding Service for Sight and the Wounded Warrior Project. These are only a few examples—out of numerous philanthropies—that are highly valued and supported in the UA greek community.

    Stereotype #3: Greek members only care about partying

    RB: Because partying happens so frequently, those groups have become known for the controversial activities that come along with parties. If a greater focus was placed on the education of members rather than on social blossoming and friendship, maybe we would hear more about how intelligent and hardworking the greek community is.

    I mean, honors students aren’t known for getting wasted multiple times a week or having low IQs.

    HD: Being in college means you are going to be social regardless of whether you’re in a greek organization. Unfortunately, fraternity men are commonly known for only throwing parties.

    Brian Kewin, a business management junior and president of Sigma Chi at the UA, said that partying was one of reasons he considered not joining a fraternity.

    “Then after I joined, I was able to understand that it’s so much more than just a party, it’s a lifelong experience,” he said.

    Additionally, Taylor Brown, an education junior and president of Sigma Kappa, said, “This stereotype is hurtful because I know tons of women in this chapter who are not into partying and who are very laid back.”

    Bottom line:

    RB: What I really want to emphasize is that you can’t necessarily make a claim about a group that’s 100 percent accurate. There are always outliers, exceptions from the rule. And no matter if a stereotype is positive or negative, it’s never quite right to say that it applies to absolutely everyone.

    The truth is, organizations build their reputations by what spreads the most. You build your own reputation, and this is something to keep in mind if you’re considering rushing. Unless things change with how sororities and fraternities frequently behave on the whole, the stereotypes will likely never die. It’s an individual’s job to rise above the stereotypes and prove their worth.

    HD: Greek life is known for many things at the UA—mostly unfair, negative stereotypes associated with fraternities and sororities on campus. The truth is that greek men and women on campus strive for academic success, building strong community and social relations and growth toward being strong future leaders.

    Follow Hannah Djavadi and Rhiannon Bauer on Twitter.

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