The term “Greek” can invoke in a man a different image about the crazy college lifestyle. The negative images and impressions of Greeks seen on TV and in movies such as Animal House, Old School, Sydney White, Sorority Row and Greek promote these images. But if people actually joined a Greek organization, they would come to find out these stereotypes do not hold true for all Greeks.
I am an alumna of Sigma Kappa Sorority at Cal State Fullerton, a Panhellenic Council sorority on campus.
As a past president of Sigma Kappa, being in a sorority has impacted my life in the most positive way.
Because of Greek life, I landed my first internship with Orsi Public Relations. Because of being in sorority, I have learned group development, organizational management, leadership skills, event planning, met different types of people, had the opportunity to help the Alzheimer’s Association during the Memory Walk, maintained academic excellence and made friends who will be my future bridesmaids.
My parents are alumni of Delta Zeta Sorority and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity at CSUF. As a result of their Greek affiliations and the skills they acquired, they now have their dream jobs as the vice president of St. Bernardine Medical Center/CHW and executive credit officer for VWA under Fox Studios.
What most do not know is there are many different kinds of Greek organizations, such as multicultural, philanthropic, professional, academic, music, community, Christian and Jewish Greeks. To categorize all Greeks as being huge partiers and drinkers is an ignorant accusation.
At CSUF, all four Greek councils – the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council – must meet all requirements for the university to be recognized as a legitimate Greek organization on campus. Members must attend alcohol awareness workshops, maintain the university and chapter GPA, attend events, contribute to their philanthropy and much more.
According to the Recognition of Greek Letter Organizations from the Dean of Students, “All Greek letter organizations and Greek governing councils must comply with the university’s annual recognition process and all its attending policies in order to maintain official recognition.
Each organization is expected to remain in good standing with its international, national or regional, or local organization to maintain official university recognition.”
Some are also unaware of the philanthropies Greeks contribute to. Each Panhellenic and Interfraterity Council has its own philanthropy, whether it be the Alzheimer’s Association, The Painted Turtle, Breast Cancer Awareness or Ronald McDonald House Charities. Greeks donate thousands of dollars and countless hours of their time each year to benefit their philanthropy, as well as other Greek Council’s philanthropies as a sign of unity and support among the Greek system.
These two councils are also a major contributor to CSUF’s philanthropy, Camp Titan. In 1969, a group of students from CSUF started this program to further improve community outreach.
Today, about 50 students take about 150 underprivileged kids from Orange County to the San Bernardino Mountains to participate in activities, teach them about nature, give them more self-confidence and serve as positive role models in these children’s lives.
This year’s Camp Titan directors are both in Greek Life. Most of the staff and counselors are also Greek.
Without the Greek staff members and Greek members donating thousands of dollars to Camp Titan from their annual Greek Week fundraiser, Camp Titan would not be what it is today.
Now I hardly think this is welcoming drugs, sex and alcohol into the lives of Greek members. When people say Greeks “pay for parties,” they are just uninformed on what member dues really go toward.
Speaking on behalf of Sigma Kappa Sorority, our chapter has a detailed budget outlining what member dues pay for. This includes supplies for each executive officer and chairman, housing and furnishing fees, reporting fees, parent events, philanthropy events, etc.
Nowhere in the budget does it say “party fee” or “alcohol fee” or anything of that nature. Most Greek events do not involve alcohol, and drinking is not a part of the Greek experience.
Let’s be honest: People drink because they are young and in college. People do not turn to Greek life just to party and drink.
We are Greek because we want to give back to our community, find a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, excel in academics, network, become a leader and be a part of something that is far bigger than ourselves.
We do not pay for parties; if we want to party, we can do that for free. Although we only make up 4 percent of the population at CSUF, it is still 4 percent and we do make a difference, a big enough difference to send underprivileged kids to Camp Titan and a big enough difference to have so many people stereotype us.
Sure, we may have those few who do party every weekend and drink, but those people would be doing that if they were not Greek. Every club, organization, group, race or class has those types of people. We do not pressure other Greek members to drink or haze members by using drinking tactics.
Stop watching those stereotypical Greek movies and shows and actually ask a Greek member what it is like to be Greek. Almost every Greek organization has strict policies about anti-hazing. A chapter could lose its charter, or in other words get kicked off campus, for hazing.
And saying we get drunk to let go of our problems or escape a difficult time in our lives is just ignorant. A few years ago, a sorority mourned the loss of one of its members in a car accident because she was hit by a drunk driver.
That tragic event brought the Greek system closer than I have ever seen before. There was so much unity, love and support for this sorority and among every member in the Greek system, even if they did not know the victim. We didn’t get drunk that night to escape our problems; we didn’t drink to forget about what happened.
We came together as a Greek system and attended a celebration of life for the sorority member, donated money, wore pink ribbons in honor of her favorite color and supported that sorority who mourned the loss of a sister. We understood this could easily happen to any of us.
So go ahead, stereotype the crap out of us, call us what you want and let TV and movies direct your thinking; you are the ignorant one in this situation. Being Greek will benefit you in the most positive way if you join for the right reasons.
Being a member of Sigma Kappa sorority was the best decision of my life and has made me the person I am today, not an alcoholic.