Greek life: Are the stereotypes accurate?

By: Alize Rosado and Max Faery

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – When you think of a sorority or a fraternity, what’s the image that pops into your head? For most people the image they see is the one portrayed in the media and entertainment. These negative stereotypes often include air-headed college students who only care about drinking, partying and, of course, hazing.

But are these stereotypes true? And what does this mean for campus culture at Niagara University?

Niagara University currently has one fraternity and two sororities on campus: Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Sigma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Alpha. All three of these organizations are nationally affiliated, which means there are hundreds of these chapters across the United States that are held to both university and national standards.

One of the biggest negative stereotypes is hazing, yet Phi Sig, ASA and TKE all have a zero-tolerance policy for hazing.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear about all of the horrible events that happen to members of Greek life that perpetuate negative stereotypes,” said Ally Simons, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma. “Hazing related deaths and injuries are true tragedies that should never occur, especially not from organizations meant to foster brother/sisterhood.”

From an academic standpoint, all three of these organizations are held to certain academic standards and required to hold a minimum GPA to be eligible for membership. This isn’t just at NU, but all chapters throughout the United States in an effort to build a more educated and well rounded character.

“In my personal experience, our sororities include some of the most intelligent students on campus,” said Simons.

One of the biggest things Greek life stands for is its philanthropic causes. Greek organizations contribute over 10 million community service hours each year, which is more than any other volunteer network in the United States.

“On our campus, [ASA] is able to make a difference with our Adopt-a-Highway section, Girls on the Run race, Special Olympics basketball tournament and many others,” said Courtney Fell, president of Alpha Sigma Alpha.

Tau Kappa Epsilon raises money for St. Jude’s every semester through their 24-hour, week-long fundraiser “Teke-in-a-box.” TKE also volunteers time at The Holy Trinity Church in Niagara Falls, the Breast Cancer Walk and Polar Plunge, and recently fundraised for Hurricane Harvey relief.

“[TKE] gives me an opportunity to help those who are either less fortunate or stricken by disaster,” said Bradley Merrill, a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. “‘Teke-in-a-box’ is special to me because it always brings out the best in people, and reminds us of how good we have it and that we should do whatever we can to help other people.”

Phi Sigma Sigma’s national philanthropy is college and career readiness. They support the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation and Kids in Need Foundation, which donates school supplies and materials to children facing extreme poverty. Phi Sig also gives back to the local community with events such as Relay for Life, Take Back the Night, Stigma Smash and more.

Alpha Sigma Alpha, Phi Sigma Sigma and Tau Kappa Epsilon are aware of the stereotypes surrounding Greek life, and they work hard to prove them wrong.

“Our ritual states: Life is not taking in only; it is giving out too. It is giving ourselves – freely – to other people, giving ourselves in comradeship, in understanding, in joy, in love,” said Fell. “As members of [ASA], we try to uphold the words that our rituals read everyday.”

“To me, being in a sorority means belonging to a nationwide network of encouraging, empowering women,” said Simons.  “It means being a part of something larger than myself and making a difference to your community and campus.”

Greek Life isn’t perfect, but don’t let the negative stereotypes overshadow the positive contributions Greek life makes.

“We’re more than that,” said Merrill.  “Greek life is more than that.” With community service, values and academic goals, Greek life continues to prove that they are more than just a stereotype.

Feature image courtesy of speedywithchicken attribution-sharealike 2.0 generic CC BY-SA 2.0


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