by Maggie Amjad
I have always been incredibly interested by the idea of Greek life. The big sorority houses, smiling sisters and rewarding charity work created a dream collegiate world for me that recently has been somewhat crushed by the media.
The exclusive societies emphasize friendship, philanthropy and a thriving social life. My own fascination began with Greek, an ABC Family show detailing the wild life of college kids in the greek system. The show hinted at the stereotypes and problems that are associated with Greek life like alcohol, drug, sex, elitism, hazing, and ditzy girls, and also displayed the friendship, philanthropy and really fun times that can emerge while living with a group of girls. Despite the tradition and benefits of Greek life, in recent years, light has been shed on Greek organizations at many schools causing a rash response to the less than legal activity.
The most recent event regarding Greeks is an ongoing process at Harvard. The “war” has resulted in a declaration that beginning with the class of 2021, students engaged in greek life will not be able to hold leadership positions such as sports captains or be eligible for scholarships. Harvard isn’t the only school going against the Greek Culture. In recent years, many colleges are cleaning up their Greek programs addressing hazing, assault allegations, drinking, and diversity issues. Addressing these issues will continue to have positive effects on these communities, but the negative media attention has added to a negative identity of greek students.
Similarly, what interested me about Greek life was the idea of sisterhood, living with friends, and having fun together. I reached out to two college freshmen that recently joined Greek life at their schools in an effort to understand what it really is like to be apart of a sorority. Both girls just completed their freshman year at Yale University, and despite being in different sororities, both girls acknowledge the friendships, and community they have been exposed to which they wouldn’t be a part of without Greek life. Additionally, just by rushing they were able to expand their social circles and make new connections with a variety of people. Although Greek life at Yale includes around 10% of students it still remains an inclusive environment in contrast to the exclusive, elite Greek stereotype. One of the girls addressed the recent controversy regarding the behavior in many fraternities across the country. She acknowledges that “While fraternities have recently been viewed as potentially unsafe spaces for women, the sororities have come together to make sure every woman feels safe and comfortable through various means.” Specifically in response to the current situation at Harvard, the national president of Kappa Alpha Theta, Laura Ware Doerre, emailed all members of the Sorority detailing her disappointment in the judgement in Harvard’s decision. She hopes that Harvard will reconsider because their new policy is punishing the entire Greek system instead of the individual fraternities responsible for unethical behavior.
In conclusion, I think that going Greek has flaws, and there are still many issues that need to be addressed, but I think this shouldn’t led to penalties toward uninvolved Greek students or the complete end of Greek Life.