Greeks prey to stereotypes; still a ‘necessity’

latoya fondren

Chi Omega and Sigma Alpha Epsilon members rock to music with their boom box heads riding on their neon covered float for the Homecoming Parade. Photo by Marissa Daley

It’s the first night of recruitment, 80 anxious girls await the start of their Greek life experience. Each girl already has an idea of which sorority they would like to be apart of and what that sorority is like.

The Greek community on college campuses provides students a chance to gain leadership skills, and come together as a whole to serve a purpose, as more sororities are incorporating diversity into their chapters, some members, like Hailey Morris, early childhood education senior, believe they have a range of girls involved in Greek life.

Hannah King, psychology junior, said students of other ethnic backgrounds shouldn’t shy away from a particular sorority because of the fear that they may not be socially accepted.

 Mario Ramirez, assistant director of student development and orientation, said, “Every student that is interested should give each sorority a try.”

King said students aren’t pledging like they used to because the excitement for Greek life no longer exists.

“People feel uncomfortable going through Panhellenic recruitment because they think they are not welcomed. However, the same goes for multicultural sororities,” Morris said. “People who aren’t involved in sororities have labeled what kinds of girls go through which recruitment process and because of this invisible, and inaccurate rule, the girls in sororities tend to divide themselves according to this manner.”

Prospective students spend one week visiting each of the sororities to figure out which group makes them feel the most comfortable.

Ramirez said, “Get to know the sororities, don’t listen to what other people say or what you see in the movies and social media.”

King agreed and said sororities face pressure to look like the movies. However, she believes there is more to it than just that.

“There’s a pressure that we’re going to be like the movies and it’s really not like that,” King said. “A lot of people think it’s all about the shows, stepping and strolling. Yes, we do it just as a form of expression, but that’s not what we’re about.”

Morris said she believes the problem lies in stereotypes, as many people come to college with a preconceived notion of Greek life.

“The problem lies in stereotypes because of preconceived notions and ideas about Greek life prior to or during college,” Morris said.”We tend to lose out on great potential members simply to the fact that they think they don’t fit society’s image of being Greek.”

King said her chapter markets themselves to accept girls of all ethnic backgrounds as long as they’re willing to serve the community.

“If someone who is Hispanic wants to be apart of Multicultural Greek life, they can join two of the Divine 9 sororities,” King said.

The Divine 9 sororities are black Greek lettered organizations that are founded at historically black colleges and they all share the ultimate goal of serving the community.

Ramirez said, “One of the things that we have to recognize is our student population, we’re now a residential campus so that changes how our Greek organizations have to recruit.”

Morris said one solution to the problem is to began dismantling cliche and unjust stereotypes.

“We, Greek community, really need to show that being Greek isn’t limited or restricted to any one type of people or culture because essentially, if that’s the case, then there’d be no purpose for the Greek community,” Morris said. “Being Greek is all about growing, networking, and leading, which we can’t fulfill if every single person in our chapter is exactly the same.”

Morris said the sororities construct their recruitment videos to show various races, personalities, and hobbies.

“We become as vulnerable as we can, sharing our own stories and allowing people to see that absolutely anyone is welcome,” Morris said.

However, when it’s the same pool of people going through recruitment, there is only so much diversity the sororities can gain.

“People come into college, and we only have a couple short weeks to show them who we are,” Morris said. “If they already have negative thoughts because of things like movies, that really makes it hard on us.”

Ramirez said there are some sororities that have some diversity but the percentage is low in numbers. He also mentioned sororities should learn how to recruit different kinds of students, such as first-generation students who don’t know what sororities or sisterhoods are.

“Step one is recognizing the population, another step would be making an effort to make sure that students of different ethnic backgrounds are being welcomed into the sororities,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the sororities may not notice that students who are interested in joining are feeling uninvited. Each sorority has a different process and some can’t talk about certain aspects of their process to interested students. Others require students to have completed at least one semester of college. Students have several options to get to know the sororities before each semester.

“That’s another step, making sure that they are being inclusive with their language and actions to all students,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the solutions that he suggested are going to take some time and effort from Greek life nationals and his department to help the sororities better promote themselves to the student body.

“I’ve seen the potential that Greek life has,” Ramirez said. “I believe it’s a necessity to have Greek life on campus.”