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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Striving for sisterhood: the rush toward … what, exactly?”

    Allison Dumkacolumnist
    Allison Dumka
    columnist

    Formal Fall Membership Recruitment, informally known as sorority ‘rush,’ ended Tuesday at 5 p.m., when 11 sororities invited students to become sisters. The troves of enthusiastic ladies we’ve all seen in long lines around campus have gone through extreme heat, outfit changes and a careful selection process. Now they all have to face one more excruciating experience: the ‘Sorority Girl’ stereotype.

    Greek women face prejudices like every other social group – and the invidious and unfair assumptions that they are unintelligent, promiscuous and vapid. Although more women graduate from the UA each year than men, some college students still assume these ladies are lacking in the brains department.

    Actually, this is nothing new. In the 1870s, sororities were born out of necessity. The first university to admit female students was Oberlin, in 1837, almost 200 years after Harvard began educating men. Because women were assumed to have inferior intellect and treated accordingly, they formed academically focused sororities to help deal with the sexist treatment they received at these institutions of higher learning.

    Fast forward 137 years and that stereotype persists today. As an outsider to Greek Life, I have less information to work with; I haven’t dealt with those stereotypes firsthand. However, I do believe there are structural issues and regulations within the recruitment process that deserve analysis beyond these stereotypes.

    I dislike the misconception that beautiful women cannot be smart , but I’m a little weirded out by groups of 50 women jumping up and down for 15 minutes, singing rhymes about their house s’ attributes (including being “”cute”” and “”fine”” ) … while wearing high heels. These enthusiastic cheers, performed by all sororities during Panhellenic rush, are known as “”sets.”” One sorority succumbed this year to wearing heels during their set because many other houses were sporting stilettos.

    Most people engage in some form of vanity, myself firmly included. I’m not sure if it’s the group-sponsored beauty standards (I haven’t seen any women in greek tees without full makeup this week, or, for that matter, many tees larger than a size medium) or whether maternal masochism is pretty normal. I taught my (biological) little sis how to pluck her eyebrows … so the outstanding difference is really only the number of women involved.

    The other numbers involved are slightly more disturbing. Rush costs $95, or $115 if paid late, not to mention the mandatory outfi ts that rush week requires. Furthermore, pledging a sorority and living in its house can put you (or your parents) out $4,900 – 6,400 per year. Members who don’t live in their chapter’s house pay around $3,200, on average, for meals and fees.

    This

    It appears that sisterhood is not free, or even all that affordable.

    amount of money is obviously not available to all students. I don’t buy into the oversimplifi ed “” greek kids buy their friends”” accusation, but it appears that sisterhood is not free, or even that affordable. It’s pretty classist, actually; I didn’t see any mentions of available scholarships to pay dues in the Greek Life handbooks. Although, apparently, some houses have flexible payment plans.

    Many friends of mine have been happy members of UA Greek Life, praising the friendly atmosphere within sorority houses. Ultimately, I’m not arguing that sorority women do not have strong bonds and true friendships. It just looks a little strange from the outside , even homogenous; some houses do not have any ethnic or racial diversity at all. The multicultural sororities and fraternities have a completely different rush process … one without the same bravado or popularity as Panhellenic rush.

    Rush week also provides campus with good material to foster those stereotypes. It only takes one inconsiderate person sporting her sorority letters, talking on her cell phone during a small discussion group, to piss someone off and confirm all their ideas about big, bad Greek Life.

    Again, many sorority women love their experiences wholeheartedly and have absolutely nothing bad to say about Greek Life. I simply believe that institutions we love deserve our scrutiny and careful critique: relationships, university classes and sorority life. And all the students who love to hate on Greek Life ought to put some energy into dissecting their own stereotypes, as well. Students at an institution of higher learning should be smarter than to fall back upon the ancient concept that women are unintelligent. Even if those women are all wearing the same tank top.

    Allison Dumka is a political science senior who wears high heels. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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