One of the questions I am most often asked on the road is: “How do you deal with negative stereotypes having to do with Greek Life?”
My answer is always a follow-up question (I may be the most frustrating CDC on the planet – they just want an answer!): “Do you think those stereotypes are true?”
I remember discussing stereotypes in an entry level Journalism class in college. The part the stuck out most to me? Stereotypes are generally founded on some nugget of truth.
Leaders in fraternities and sororities complain that the media gets it wrong; that so much emphasis is placed on partying, hazing, not living out values, and that all of the wonderful things we do are all but ignored. While this may be true (see: TLC’s one episode of Sorority Girls), the fact of the matter is, in order for these things to be covered by the media, they had to have happened.
Of course sororities do more than party. Of course we do. We do thousands and thousands of hours of community service, boast higher GPAs than the campus average, host educational programs for our members, shape women into leaders. And hazing? Every NPC organization is 100% anti-hazing.
But here’s the thing: it takes one person representing one organization having one bad night out or making one mistake to counteract all the good that fraternities and sororities as a whole do. In order for the media to write bad things, those bad things had to have happened.
Of course members are going to make mistakes; college is part of growing up and part of growing up is making mistakes. But once you join a Greek letter organization, you’re held to a higher standard and higher scrutiny because of everything you represent. Because you, and I, represent over a hundred years of heritage, hundreds of thousands of members, millions of philanthropy hours, and established values and ideals. We communicate everything our organizations stand for in our actions every day.
Delta Zeta put out an awesome, awesome video that members of fraternities and sororities everywhere should watch. It’s here for you now:
So, how do you deal with negative stereotypes of Greek organizations? The answer to that question is best communicated through actions, not words.