More than partying: How stereotypes negatively affect Greek life’s image
By GABRIELLA GARCIA
Last semester we raised over $2,000 for suicide awareness and prevention, planted trees and mulched at Hugh Mercer Elementary School, held a bake sale in which funds were used to donate bus tickets to the Brisben Center for the homeless, and made trick-or-treat bags for the children at the Mary Washington Hospital. This semester we accepted seven new amazing women, hand-made and donated dog toys to the local SPCA, and wrote Valentine’s Day cards for soldiers overseas and to children at the Mary Washington Hospital. I completed all of this with the sisters of Zeta Omega Delta sorority. And it is about time that the school gave us some recognition.
The University of Mary Washington’s Statement on Greek Life webpage clearly states “UMW is not affiliated with single-sex Greek social fraternities or sororities,” however, there is no explanation as to why this is the case.
Schools easily benefit from lack of Greek affiliation because they are able to avoid breaking news headlines of student deaths due to hazing and other unfortunate social event outcomes.
With this being said, schools that are affiliated with Greek Life do not focus on the philanthropic aspects of the organization, nor do we see breaking news stories about how happy the kids at the hospital were after reading our Valentine’s Day cards.
In their article titled “Examining the benefits of Greek Life” USA Today points out “Since 1825, all but three U.S. presidents have been members of a fraternity. 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives were part of Greek life. The first female astronaut was Greek, as well as the first female senator. College graduation rates are 20 percent higher among Greeks than non-Greeks.”
Fraternities were originally referred to as “secret societies” in which the members involved prepared themselves for their careers in ways that their professors could not. These secret societies spread rapidly across several campuses, and the first sorority was established in 1851. At this point sororities and fraternities consisted of numerous brothers and sisters who vowed to support one another, help improve one another, and be loyal to one another until death do them part.
Nine million college students are members of a Greek organization, and this is because going Greek provides those involved with so many great opportunities. Many nationally recognized chapters have larger benefits than the average non-Greek student is exposed to simply due to the large number of Greek alumni that give back to the best organizations they were ever involved in during their college careers.
Zeta Omega Delta is more than a social sorority. It is a social and philanthropic organization made up of ladies who are passionate about being both good sisters to one another and bettering the Fredericksburg community. We do participate in social events with the other unrecognized Greek organizations at UMW, and we do not participate in hazing. As a matter of fact, we cannot even comfortably refer to our new members as “pledges.” We specifically call them new members before they are initiated as actives because the word pledge has such a negative connotation.
Since 2016, the year we were founded by two amazing young women, we have thrived as a sorority. Many girls have met their best friends through the sorority, and we have participated in so many service events that we can not only put on our resume, but that will help us get ahead in the professional world due to the connections we’ve made and the events we have participated in. Although we are a local organization rather than national, we strive to one day become affiliated with our University.
At the end of the day it is up to the student to represent their school and Greek organization in a positive way. I wear my Greek letters with pride and will leave college knowing that I made the right decision.
It’s time you look deeper into what we are doing as Greek organizations rather than assuming the worst because of the tragic stories you’ve seen on the news. Greek Life is more than meets the eye, and I am proud to call myself a member of Zeta Omega Delta sorority.