Fraternity and sorority stereotypes give Greeks a bad name

Thinking back to my freshman year, one of the first days that come to mind is my first day at the College.

As I approached the parking deck behind Travers and Wolfe, two very helpful boys greeted me and carried almost all of my belongings up to Travers 724. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful, and met two new people at the College, even before getting acquainted with my floormates. Those two gentlemen are now alumni of Sigma Pi, but their help that day was something I will never forget.

Freshman Move-in Day is just one minor way that Greek organizations help the campus community. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, Greeks are behind many campus-wide events. Community Fest, Finals Fest (formerly 24-Hour Student Center), Lollanobooza, Spirit Week, and TCNJ Holiday are only some of events that Greeks are heavily involved with on campus and that probably would not happen without their collaborative efforts.

What most non-Greeks don’t recognize is that Greeks are not only involved with campus community events, but they also hold their own. Nearly every Greek organization hosts an entertaining program each year that raises money for the respective organization’s philanthropy.

These pageants, game shows, auctions and countless other events, raise money for such charities as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Prevent Child Abuse America, the American Cancer Society and the Children’s Miracle Network. For example, Sigma Pi’s Pi Sale brings in between $1,000 and $1,500 each year that is donated to their philanthropy, The American Red Cross. Programs like this one could be even more successful if more non-Greeks attended them instead of focusing in on the negative issues surrounding Greek life.

Furthermore, all Greek organizations are mandated to have a certain percentage of their chapter involved in other clubs or groups on campus. For example, Inter-Greek Council (IGC) Chapter Assessment Program requires that at least 80 percent of all Greeks participate in a club or group outside of their own organization, including various sports teams and honor societies. Clearly, Greek life encourages its members to get involved in other areas on campus, and it works.

It is important to keep in mind that no matter what we do, Greek life has been and probably always will be associated with the “Animal House” image. And let’s face it; there is no fool proof way around it. It’s naive to think that kids in college don’t drink. However, it is completely unfair and narrow-minded to blame the alcohol-related incidents that occur on campus entirely on the Greek system.

Regardless of the group, club or team a student associates with, parties are generally tagged with this same name. Let’s say I were a member of the Christmas Club – does that automatically mean I’m out at the Christmas house funneling eggnog and making out under the mistletoe? Not necessarily. The College community may hold this stereotype because they are present at the open social events held by whatever club it may be, but they disregard the other facets of these groups.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Greeks face harsh consequences when incidents like these happen.

IGC has a stringent judicial process in which chapters are held accountable for their actions. The IGC vice president of Standards and Conduct heads the Judicial Board and is “in charge of judicial . interpretation and review” and “(enforces) IGC risk management policies.” There is also a Greek judicial process in which “all violations of College policies by Greek organizations shall be adjudicated in accordance with the Greek judicial process through the IGC and (the office of Community Standards within) the office of Campus Activities.” Chapters can be and have been removed from campus and put on probation for alcohol-related sanctions. IGC also has risk-management training for all Greek organizations.

With that in mind, it is also important to recognize how Greeks are constantly keeping the College’s community aware of ways to improve upon threatening behavior.

As a result of the North American Fraternity Council’s Alcohol Summit last fall, IGC eliminated alcohol from rush, created a task force to address alcohol-related issues and developed a dry Greek Week as well as a Greek alcohol lecture series. Sexual Assault Awareness Week, held by Sigma Pi and co-sponsored by IGC, the office of Anti-Violence Initiatives and The White Ribbon Campaign, won the Student Life Award given to one outstanding program run by a student organization each year.

There are countless self-awareness programs that Greeks run at the College. Again, if more people supported and attended them, I think their opinions of Greeks would be much more reputable.

Even though Greek life is only a small fraction of the College’s community, their efforts in helping others and concerns for serious issues are widespread. Don’t let the negative fraternity and sorority stereotypes fool you. If I had let them fool me, I would have missed out on the most rewarding experience of my college career.

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