Not unlike many sorority girls before me, I came into my freshman year at college with a negative view of sororities and fraternities. All my preconceived notions of Greek life were based off what the media had been feeding me since I was old enough to watch an American Pie movie. That, coupled with the occasional horror story featured on the nightly news about hazing gone wrong, was more than enough to keep me far away from anything emblazoned with a letter from the Greek alphabet.
But throughout my first year of college, I saw how the sisters and brothers on campus interacted and supported one another, and so, after a horrible freshman year which left me friendless, alone, and mildly depressed, I decided going out for a sorority would be my top priority for the fall semester of my sophomore year.
I was nervous, apprehensive, and completely in the dark with what to expect from the process, but as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. From the very first night I spent with the girls I now call sisters, I knew I had found my place, and since then, I’ve never been happier.
What they tell you in movies? Totally not true. Movies, television shows, and even books are only exaggerated versions of the social aspects of sororities and fraternities — and some of what they feed us is not true, not even in the slightest. I’ve been part of my sorority for almost a whole two semesters, and not once have I experienced even one second of hazing. I’ve never been made to do anything that has made me feel uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form. The media does a good job of giving Greeks a bad name, and forgets to highlight all the things that a sorority or fraternity actually consists of.
Simply put, movies and TV shows are poor representations of Greek life. If you’re basing your opinions of Greek life off a TV show, then I don’t blame you for running for the hills. ABC Family’s Greek in particular highlights and continues all the negative stigmas surrounding sororities and fraternities. Based off that show, you can assume that girls in a sorority are catty, self-centered, and shallow, and guys in fraternities are just plain stupid womanizers, riding their high horses.
This can’t be farther from the truth. While some aspects of the show are spot-on, most miss the mark completely. In the Zeta Beta Zeta house, the girls are cliquey, passive aggressive, and out to get one another for the sake of personal gain. In a real sorority, the girls are more than just girls to each other — they’re sisters, and sisters support, love, and push each other to be better.
The notion that members of Greek life join just for the parties is perhaps maybe the stupidest. You don’t join a sorority for the weekends; you join a sorority for life. Those who are in just for the parties aren’t cut out for Greek life — and those people will realize that the first time they have to wake up at 5 a.m. to volunteer at a beach cleanup or remain sober sister or brother for the weekend.
Nationally, 71 percent of all fraternities and sorority members graduate college, while only 50 percent of non-members graduate, and the all-fraternity and sorority GPA is higher than the overall collegiate GPA. Since 1910, 85 percent of the Supreme Court Justices have been Greek, and all but two Presidents since 1825 are fraternity brothers. Greeks head 43 of the top 50 largest corporations in the country, and 85 percent of the Fortune 500 key executives were Greek in college.
Still want to call us stupid, party-hungry underachievers?
What the media fails to mention is the ample community service done by the brothers and sisters of fraternities and sororities, the strong bonds built between the members of the organizations and the leadership and networking opportunities presented. Fraternities and sororities are built around certain ideals — sister/brotherhood, scholarship, leadership, and philanthropy, to name a few — and everything we do is to uphold those ideals. Media glosses over the service Greeks do; nationally, approximately 10 million hours of community service are clocked annually. Most importantly, the media can’t convey, not even in the slightest, what it’s like to look at a group of people and feel immediate support, love, admiration, and pride.
I’ve had the best year of my life, and that’s saying something considering that the few bad things that have happened to me during this year have been pretty devastating. Without my sorority, I’d be exactly where I was last year — in my dorm room, sad, and all alone, this time without even my then-boyfriend. Without the support of my sisters, I would have missed out on some amazing opportunities and people. Joining a Greek organization is more than a few pairs of pretty letters on the front of a t-shirt or going to parties. Joining a Greek organization means always having someone to fall back on, to rely on, to be there for you. It means finding a home away from home. It means becoming the best version of you that you can possibly be.
Joining a sorority was, hands down, the best decision I’ve made thus far in my college career, and that’s because it’s helped me so much in every other aspect of it. Being apart of an organization as influential as my sorority has made me strive to be the best I can be. I try harder in my classes because I want to make my sisters proud. My endeavors with extracurricular activities and community services have doubled since recruitment week. I’ve become more comfortable in social and professional situations because I know I have people in my corner rooting for me. Even my writing has become better because I know I will always have sisters who will support and read my work.
I wear my letters with pride because, to me, they mean so much more than just a phi and two sigmas. My letters represent an organization that has been around for a century, the ladies who have given me the confidence to be the person I am today, and a promise to my sisters and to myself to be the best I can possibly be. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.