Greek life doesn’t reflect stereotypes


Hailee Powell

“Northern has sororities?” is a common question I get whenever I wear my sorority’s letters on campus. The answer is “yes,” and just to be clear: NMU has three sororities and two fraternities, each of which offers something unique to the community.
Each sorority and fraternity has its own philanthropy it raises money and volunteers toward, and each are focused on building their members up and making them into better, well-rounded individuals. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reputation we get stuck with.

A lot of different stereotypes surround Greek life, and being part of it myself, I hear them all the time. The most common saying is that we pay for our friends. Before I even went Greek, I had people telling me that they wouldn’t dream of joining a Greek society because they wouldn’t stoop to “paying” for their friends.

While you do pay to be a part of a Greek organization, it’s hardly paying for the friendships (although they are an added bonus). When you pledge and dues are collected, they go toward sorority functions, mixers and general chapter operations.

Another assumption revolves around hazing. Hazing has been disproportionately attributed to Greek-lettered organizations, which causes people to be wary of the organizations. This fact is evident in NMU’s policies regarding hazing within student organizations, placing an emphasis on Greek-lettered organizations.

For example, all potential new members of a Greek organization must attend a “Greek Risk Management Seminar” before joining it. According to the policies, this seminar “provides brief overviews of topics related to alcohol, sexual assault, sexual
health, and hazing and relates them to issues of personal and organizational risk-management concerns.”

The front page of the NMU Greek Affairs website even specifies that while “hazing has never been a major problem” for any organization on campus, it is “working to ensure that it does not become one.”

While hazing is recognized as a serious issue, the vast majority of Greek organizations do not conduct, condone or participate in activities that could be deemed as hazing. This is especially true of NMU’s Greek organizations who strive to ensure the safety and emotional well-being of all their members.

The most stereotypical comment I hear, more often than I should, claims that Greeks only care about partying. While social events are part of the scene (we are social organizations, after all), there’s much more to being Greek than partying and hanging out.

Although popular media would hate to admit it, the majority of fraternities and sororities don’t behave like the fake ones portrayed in “Neighbors,” “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” At NMU, especially, the Greeks tend to focus more on service, philanthropy and scholarship.

For instance, each fraternity and sorority has a certain GPA each member must retain to stay in the chapter, and often require each member to study a certain number of hours each week. On top of this academic requirement, fraternities and sororities are also committed to giving back to the community.

So, while the media tries to paint Greeks everywhere in a bad light, we here at Northern are and have been doing all we can to reverse this stereotype, even if it is just for this campus.

The NMU Greek community is and shall remain diverse, welcoming and goal-driven by putting an end to hazing, giving back to the community and providing leadership opportunities for its members.