The effect of sororities and stereotypes on college students and their campuses

The sophomore class of Delta Zeta gather to take a photo to remember times with their sisters.

Greek life on university campuses can carry different meanings depending on who you ask. It is not only dependent on whom you ask but also what university campus you are looking at.

University greek life varies greatly depending upon the campus and its location.

Many universities in the south, for example, are known for being very intense and over the top. These are the types of things that bring stereotypes to sororities.

What is a sorority?
A sorority is defined in the dictionary as a social club or society for university woman. Though many sorority members would define it differently and say that it is more than the definition.

“It’s hard to understand sorority life looking from the outside in,” said Gaia Altshuler, a sophomore at the University of Denver, “Overall sorority life has given me the opportunity to be a better women.”

Lauren Calkins, a University of Denver junior, stated that she joined a sorority,” to be involved, to go to formals, and to have that home away from home at college. I wanted the sense of family.”

The family sense is something that really is in a sorority yet it is hard to describe how all of a sudden you feel such a close connection to so many girls.

Sororities and stereotypes
While many believe sororities are only negative and a waste of time, which is false. Sororities are given so many different stereotypes based on horror stories the public has heard or from what they have seen in movies.

One movie that many use as an example of sororities is Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon. Elle Woods, the main character, is a sorority girl and portrayed as an airhead.

She is shown as a girl who needs to have a man and is only in college for the parties.

This stereotype of sorority girls always partying and drinking is not true. The partying and drinking sadly happens to be a fact of college life all over the world.

Just because you are in a sorority does not mean you drink and party more. It does happen but sororities are about so much more.

Calkins reflects on all the other aspects a sorority has to offer, she said, “there is more to sororities including philanthropy, sisterhood, and networking.”

A banner displaying one of Delta Zeta sorority’s four philanthropies, Painted Turtle Camp.

As a way to help eliminate stereotypes, Altshuler says,” I believe that by being an active member and participating in the positive opportunities is a great way to improve and eliminate the stereotypes that have been formed.”

The negative side to greek life
One negative issue that is brought up when mentioning greek life in general is that idea of hazing.

Hazing is mostly associated with only sororities and fraternities. The fact is though that hazing can happen in any group whether on a sports team or theater or a school club.

It is how you define hazing that makes it something difficult to decipher exactly what hazing is.

Hazing is defined as “the action of hazing; especially: an initiation process involving harassment.”

Recently The New York Times stated in an article, “Forced drinking, a staple of college hazing, comes up in a few reports. There also were reports of students’ getting frostbite from walking barefoot in the snow.”

The article speaks of a recent hazing scandal at Binghamton University were numerous anonymous phone calls and emails were made reporting hazing.

“This is exactly the reason why we have such horrible stereotypes.” Calkins reacts to the article, “The sorority I belong to, would never make members do anything that would put them in danger, but because of this, people get the wrong idea.”

A huge reason hazing goes unnoticed is because many of the victims are afraid of the repercussions that will come if they step forward.

It states in the article, “someone alarmed at the severity of the hazing, came secondhand or thirdhand from worried girlfriends, alumni or parents.”

Many of those affected spoke of events to loved ones who were worried and stepped forward to bring attention to the situation.

“This type of hazing needs to stop for the safety of members and in order for Greek Life to have a bright future” Calkins says.

This situation is a rare one. While hazing does exist and it is hard to say it does not, but what really is considered hazing is still a huge question.

Many people find it obvious that any noticeable physical harm done to someone is hazing. Most can spot the extremes and call it hazing.

Though how do you start defining behavior as hazing?

Some believe that calling new members in a sorority ‘babies’ is hazing.

Throughout the movie of Legally Blonde you see her become her own person and really show how a sorority can make you grow.

That instead of hazing or humiliation the sorority all work together towards a common goal of helping Elle deal with recent life issues.

With the help of her sorority Elle Woods gets accepted into Harvard Law School and excels there.

It just goes to show that even with the negative sorority stereotype, sorority sisters are always there for each other and that the stereotypes are not all true.

One Response to The effect of sororities and stereotypes on college students and their campuses

  • Carly Moore
    Carly Moore says:

    Samantha,
    I think your article is great, your pictures are nice and your links really help out when trying to understand the story, in case your reader does not have the original background information needed to understand the article. I would say that maybe you were a little bias in this article. Although you do not say that you, as the author, are in Greek life, it is clear by the tone of the story, that you are. Maybe use less harsh tones or less assumptive phrases. Although you might completely disagree with the stereotypes, as a journalist its important to remain as neutral as possible. But GREAT JOB OVERALL! 😀

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