Cultural Experience | Virginia

10 Common Sorority Myths Debunked

What it Really Means to be a Sorority Girl

As a sorority girl who proudly embraces the question, “Really? You’re in a sorority?” each time I’m asked them, I got to thinking about the common misconceptions of today’s sorority life and its place in the greek system. Why do I face a negative view of the organization I can proudly say has defined my college experience thus far, and why does an outsider questioning my involvement fill me with a misconstrued sense of pride?

The stereotypical “sorority girl” as she’s commonly conveyed spends many nights partying, few hours studying, and proudly displays her collection of empty wine bottles throughout her home. But sororities don’t necessarily foster these types of women, nor do women generally seek to join these organizations for the reasons commonly cited. I know just as many active sorority sisters who spend the majority of their nights away from the party scene, have some of the most driven personalities, and abstain from drinking all together.

The previous stereotypes only spread a negative view of some of the top students and most active members of college campuses today and impede the ability for today’s sorority girl to, for lack of a better phrase, be taken seriously. I know I’m not the only one who’s expressed with passion their experience at a philanthropy event or sisterhood retreat to a professor or non greek peer and been met with a half-hearted response or a condescending remark of, “well isn’t that nice,” in a tone that isn’t nice at all. I found that a few of the myths about sorority life I’ve faced in my time as a member of the greek community were common misconceptions many girls face and I present the 10 that I feel are the most common and incorrect.

You’re buying your friends

As flattering as my friends would find that, no, I don’t pay my dues to keep my friendships. The second I pressed “submit” on Billhighway for the first time, I sadly didn’t find six girls appear in my dorm room ready to pop in a movie and hang. I made my friends the way I have at every other point in my life – through conversation, events, and by finding people who share the same interests and have the same sense of humor as myself. I am not friends with everyone in my sorority – I don’t have the time or enough in common with 200 girls to consider each one of them a friend – and not everyone is friends with me. I was lucky enough to find the sorority that held my values and by extension the people who would hold those values as well, but I also know that if I could no longer pay my dues and remain an active member, I would still have my friends from the sorority.

We’re all airheads

What most people who aren’t in greek life don’t realize is that most sororities have a minimum GPA requirement to remain active in your respective organization. If you fall under this requirement, consequences can include a restriction on events you can attend, probation, or eventual expulsion from the organization. Sororities pride themselves at various schools for having the highest GPAs of active organizations greek or otherwise, and girls in my sorority hold some of the most academically demanding majors known to undergrads today.

You need to be preppy

While I’m admittedly against Lilly Pulitzer, Jack Rogers, and almost anything with a collar, not all of my sorority sisters are – but no girl was excluded from recruitment for a lack of these items, let alone for their clothing choice at all. Many sororities have a reputation of being preppier than most, but that doesn’t constitute the entire greek body. Even at more “southern” schools, many sororities’ members are northern and bring an entire different culture with them. The difference is evident and can be found everywhere, and depending on the school you attend you’ll find a higher ratio of “preppy” to “non preppy” among the student body, not just the greek life.

It’s too time consuming

I’d consider some classes too time consuming, my job occasionally the root of my stress, and my school work certainly time consuming (but often with great reward) but rarely is there a time when a sorority event takes up my whole day or gets in the way of something else mandatory. Excluding weekly chapter meetings (a few of which can be missed without reprimand), nothing in my sorority is mandatory during my average week. Social events are never required, philanthropy requirements give many options for participation to fit with anyone’s schedule, and the one piece of advice I’ve held true since joining a sorority is that you get as much out of it as you are willing to put in. I still find myself able to have two jobs, keep friendships outside the sorority, and not only complete but excel in my academics at school while staying an involved member in my sorority.

You won’t be prepared for life after college

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth, and what I’ve actually found regarding sorority life is that often you’re better prepared for life post-college. The connections made in a sorority are ones that don’t expire with your graduation date and can be beneficial in the job market. The organizational skills, financial obligations, and professional and casual relationships made are only a few of the aspects demanded from a sorority that transpire to the “real world” that is ever-approaching.

You’ll change (for the worse)

College without change is like a fish out of water – it can’t truly survive without it. The values my sorority and others hold high – independence, multifaceted interests, community-oriented service, and commitment to academics – are ones that I feel have only grown during my time at college and my time in my sorority. Class, greek life, and every other organization will offer success and struggle to collegiates, but I’ve seen few people become worse versions of themselves as a result of just one of these organizations or institutions.

 P A R T Y

All we do is plan events, attend them, drink, forget them, repeat, right? Occasionally true, but never the sole goal of a sorority girl during the week. Add work, a few hours a day at the library, a visit to the gym, dinner with officers of this club or that organization, a group project, the occasional movie if you’re lucky – and that isn’t even the half of it. Partying is as much an essential facet of our college experience as it is the non greek student and even then, essential is subjective to all.

 Philanthropy events are for show

Finishing “Fallanthropy Month”, my sorority’s fall philanthropy event for our personal philanthropy JDRF, I can state with complete confidence that philanthropy is an aspect of sorority life that brings out the best of any organization. Sisters come together and unite their friends and family to raise money as well as awareness for the cause in question and find increasingly fun and unique ways to do so – trunk sales, fraternity pageants, and color runs are all successful examples – while involving the rest of campus as well. Mandatory attendance is often the aspect of these events that fosters this myth, but often attendance is necessary to spread the awareness for the event, something the philanthropy chair is responsible for. The whole-hearted effort that goes into these events are genuine and often reflected when girls from different sororities show support and attend each other’s events.

 We’re all vain

The image forming is probably a mix between Shelley in House Bunny and Casey from Greek both being reprimanded by the infamously self-absorbed Elle Woods of Legally Blonde, right? I have yet to meet a Shelley or an Elle, and while Casey is a much more realistic interpretation of the type of girl to benefit from sorority life, the level of involvement is clearly dramatized; seriously, does anyone live in the sorority house their entire college career? Many of the most down-to-earth girls I’ve had the privilege of meeting are in sororities, and many of the most self-consumed aren’t affiliated. While you’re bound to encounter many vain girls in your lifetime, they’re as often members of sororities as they are, say, Harvard Law School graduates…

We’re Clique-driven

An aspect of personal survival in life is to form social groups, and while sororities aren’t exempt, they certainly don’t foster group formation more than any other organization. I have as many close friends in my sorority as I do out of it, and while I have a core group of friends I spend most of my time with, I also have my roommates, my sorority family, my old hallmates, my classmates, my work friends, etc. I’ve had different groups of friends throughout my life, however my sorority is the one instance I’ve found that actually encourages me to expand beyond my comfort zone and befriend people who aren’t completely like me. There’s no dominant clique, no “it” group in sorority life but rather friendships that continue to expand through one another into an entire network of unique friendships.

 

Emma Bleznak

James Madison Univerity | 7 stories

Emma Bleznak is a Public Relations and Journalism major at James Madison University. Follower her daily on twitter and instagram: @emmablez


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