Shining Light on the Reality of Greek Life

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern

Movies like Animal House and American Pie paint a fictitious picture of what it means to be in a fraternity. There is no shortage of fun in fraternities and sororities, but togas, hazing and chapter houses overflowing with empty beer bottles are traits of a fantastical Greek lifestyle.

Black robes and candles and chants might lead an uninformed citizen (like myself before this column) to think of this society as some type of witchy cult. Knowing that there was more to the story, I made a quick google search and had a chat with some members at MSU to get educated.

“We are the same as any other college kid,” said Brett Marshall, Phi Delta Theta member. “We hang out at peoples’ houses, play and watch sports, play video games and go out on the weekends. But on top of that, we like to host and coordinate events that get us involved in the community and with charities of causes we’re passionate about.”

Sports? Video games? They really do sound like any other twenty-something, so why are there so many stereotypes surrounding Greek Life?

“Most of these stereotypes exists because of movies and the media,” Marshall explained. “On the fraternity side, there’s often a connotation that we don’t treat women with respect. There’s also just the generic ‘Brad the Frat Guy’ stereotype, which is usually someone who drinks all the time, isn’t respectful and coasts through everything. The problem is the only time we get press coverage is when something bad happens, which obviously that needs to be heard, but they never cover the good things.”

Fraternity and Sorority Life’s MSU Dance Marathon had a record-breaking year as the event raised $30,000 for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. In addition, the Greek community will have raised nearly $10,000 for other charities including: Huntsman Cancer Research, Live Like Lou Foundation and CADA (Committee Against Domestic Abuse).

“Within the community, we support the CADA house downtown, which is the domestic violence shelter in Mankato,” said Taylor Zenz, Alpha Chi Omega member. “In supporting them, we make monthly donations of basic necessities, such as soap, toothpaste and deodorant for victims.”

Self-indulgence isn’t a common characteristic of the community—in fact, it’s the polar opposite. Zenz helped drive the point home by citing the four core values of Greek members:

  • Friendship
  • Leadership
  • Scholarship
  • Service

While there have been cases of illegal hazing and sexual misconduct in some fraternities and sororities throughout the country, that behavior has no place in a bona fide Greek society. After peeling away the societal misconceptions built by Hollywood and other media, I was able to see that this community’s focus is on being the best you can be through personal and communal achievement.

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