LILIKAS: Greek life has benefits, but can be oppressive
Opinions Column: Digital Canvas
While only about 10 percent of Rutgers students are a part of greek life, this small percentage is a huge part of what makes Rutgers such a fun and diverse place. Not to sound cliché, but the Rutgers greek community is a place that people usually do not regret becoming a part of. People find their “brothers” and “sisters,” and become family with those that were once strangers. Being that I am a non-member of this community, such a stereotypical phrase pains me to say, but it all seems worth the hype. Aside from gaining a lifetime of friendships, it can offer many different social and philanthropic opportunities, depending on which sorority or fraternity you might join, while also creating a vast network of professional connections. I always recommend joining a sorority or fraternity to underclassmen when they ask for my opinion, because there really is a chapter out there for anyone and everyone. There are those people in greek life that like to fulfill the college-movie stereotypes that we all come to imagine, but at the same time, many of those students promote 4.0 academics and great philanthropic causes. I took the stereotypes to heart when I was a freshman and told myself that I could never really fit in to a sorority wholly and comfortably. Now it’s likely that you can read all of the great things about greek life in a pamphlet somewhere in the student center, but there are some particulars of the greek community they neglect to include.
I tend to mind my own business when it comes to the terms and conditions of joining and being a member of a sorority because, truthfully, it is none of my business if I have no part in it. I usually hear about the process of recruitment and roll my eyes — the mandatory dress codes and formal process just seem exhausting and complicated for everyone involved. Up until recently, however, my indifferent position on all of this has transformed with some opposition. I roll my eyes less and stare more in astonishment at the things I hear through the grapevine. This is not me trying to sound like the typical anti-greek ranter, but just because hazing is slowly being weaned out of the system does not mean that human decency should be as well. It is common knowledge that greek life comes with a degree of conformity, but I was unaware of the extent until this year when the girls in my class year started becoming full-fledged members.
But oh, that is a harsh thing to say for someone uninvolved in the actual community, right? Maybe so, but I can no longer keep an apathetic opinion on the visibly oppressive nature of greek life. And yes, we have heard this all before in the media, but it is sincerely hard to believe it until you witness it first-hand at your own university.
It is almost the end of winter recess and all of the sorority girls are coming out of break’s hibernation just in time for spring recruitment. Facebook is bursting with rush banners and Instagram is overflowing with sorority squads urging people to become a part of their sisterhood. Just recently, a friend of mine said her “artistic integrity (was) policed” when it came to her posts publicizing her sorority. And although she wasn’t hazed, her supposed “sisters” made her feel so divergent for not accommodating their girly, basic image, that she was subconsciously forced out of the organization. These posts are evidently crucial in creating the desired perception of a sorority. This is one of the reasons why there are Tumblr and Instagram accounts created purely to illustrate a picture of perfection and a yearning for other girls to be (and want to be) just like what they publish online. This is entirely understandable until personal posts from non-board members are micromanaged and pressured to be deleted.
Sororities and fraternities embrace this power to dictate how their fellow members should portray themselves. Telling people that are considered family how to represent themselves will not improve the organization’s image because that comes with the individual. In order to improve or steer clear from the stereotypes, mature development needs to begin singularly. With all of the negative national news on Rutgers and greek life in general, the greek community needs to avoid complying to the conventional image of fraternity men and sorority women. Instead, they should recognize the authority they’ve been given to expand their horizons beyond looking cute and being a “bro.” They need not integrate clichéd expectations into their identity and influence others to be the same way.
Epatia Lilikas is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English and economics. Her column, “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Wednesdays.
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