Panhellenic Insider: Decoding 9 Greek Life Assumptions

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At the beginning of the school year, Instagram floods with photos of squatting girls candidly laughing and proclaiming their love for their sisters. As a self-proclaimed GDI, I find it overwhelming to scroll through the hundreds of pictures of girls with matching middle parts, high-waisted shorts and bandanas, clumped together on a grassy hill somewhere throwing up “what they know.” Whether you abhor it with a passion or proudly wear letters, we all have an opinion about Greek life. College Magazine investigated to uncover the truth about Greek life.

1. Sorority Girls are Dumb

No doubt that there are some sorority girls who are real-life versions of Elle Woods, but without the inner drive to rise to the top and become the valedictorian of Harvard Law. Newsflash: Greek letters don’t have a correlation to IQ. Non-Greek Florida State University sophomore Ira Stecher said, “My ‘Calculus 2’ class was about 20 percent sorority girls, and honestly, most of the time they understood the material better than I did.”

2. Hazing is Prevalent in all Fraternities and Sororities

Movies show us sorority initiations in dark warehouses illuminated with tea-light candles with white-hooded figures forcing initiates to drink a mysterious blood-like concoction that will bond them to the sisterhood. Despite my wild imagination, most people interviewed about their Greek life experience were adamant about their non-hazing fraternity or sorority. “They want you to know that you’re with your home away from home,” said a junior at FSU.* “Girls will mess around with you, but there’s never any bad intentions. Plus, we’re under very strict watch from Panhellenic because if a girl gets upset over one little thing, we could be done.”

3. It’s All About Partying

When I go out on Saturday night, I somehow seem to find myself in the middle of a swarm of chatty sorority sisters or crammed between a few intoxicated frat dudes. It’s easy to understand why people wonder when Greek life members have time for school. “I don’t like, live, breathe and sleep vodka shots. It’s fun to party with my friends, but I have my studies too,” said an FSU senior. “I’ll usually go out on Friday night and reserve Saturday nights for homework.”

4. He’s in a Frat? Better Not Leave Your Drink Unattended

Because of unfortunate associations with date rape incidents, frat boys have been branded by Greek and non-Greek students alike. However, FSU senior Casey Williams said his fraternity enforces a GPA requirement and high character standards for its members. “If a guy walks in and tells us his GPA is a 2.9, we say, ‘Sorry.’ We want to get people in here that are good students and serious about being gentlemen on campus, not ones that will make us look bad,” Williams said.

5. Frat Guys Won’t Be Caught Dead with a GDI

How do Greeks view the letter-less nobodies? “I have just as many non-Greek friends as I do Greek friends,” said Williams. Since frat guys travel in packs, it’s easy to assume that they’re die-hard bros for life, but that’s not true of all Greek members. Williams said, “I’m pretty sure that’s the case with all of my fraternity brothers, too. No one in my fraternity thinks they’re better than people who choose not to be in Greek life; it’s just not for everyone, and that’s OK.”

6. You’re Forced to Pair Your Letters with Makeup

I cringe at the idea of smearing on make-up for the gym or a Chick-fil-A run with friends. However, an FSU sophomore said, “ I think about it as a job interview. If you’re going to apply for a job, you wouldn’t show up to the interview wearing what you wear to sit in bed and watch Netflix all day.” So it’s less of a strict requirement to look gorgeous and more of a way to make sure the members look presentable, especially when going to date functions or philanthropic events. “Ultimately, you want people who will carry on your legacy after you graduate,” she said.

7. We Don’t Judge Based on Looks

Judging girls and guys based solely on their personality and looks will get ugly, no pun intended. Most girls involved in Greek life insist that the stereotype that the recruitment process is superficial and emotionally taxing is a lie, but an insider tells us that it is in fact a process that is centered on appearance. An FSU sophomore said, “It’s really stupid and bitchy and superficial, yeah. We literally just sit there and judge girls on how pretty they are, what they’re wearing and how they talk so we can figure out if we like them enough for them to become one of us. I hate the process of it, but we do it anyway.”

8. Greek Life isn’t Exclusive

Not only was it interesting to see what Greek-lifers did say, it was even more interesting to see what they didn’t say. The fact is, almost every person I interviewed requested anonymity. There’s a type of exclusivity that breeds from the secrecy held in the pledging process, one that excludes outsiders. Each person had their own request for anonymity, but the fraternity brothers were the most insistent. Let’s be real: Greek life is not like any other club. The Political Science Society doesn’t tell its members to keep quiet on what they discuss in their meetings, and they never will.

9. Everyone in Greek Life Breaks the Stereotype

It’s easy to go the opposite direction and assume that every person in Greek life breaks those stereotypes we know so well. Though there are some who break the stereotypes, there are still others who perpetuate them. Stecher’s experience with fraternity men hasn’t been pleasant one. He said, “My first experience with frat boys were two of my good friends freshman year who were great people, but aside from that I’ve only known frat boys to be shallow, tunnel-visioned and honestly not very nice to girls.”

Truthfully, stereotyping anyone or anything won’t lead to an accurate representation of an individual. It’s easy to forget that some students in Greek life are individuals with scholarships when they are lumped into a blank representation of a group. Just as with any group, Greek life may have a higher likelihood to breed a certain kind of individual and culture, but there will always be exceptions.

*Unnamed interviewees are members of Greek life who requested anonymity.

Student, musician, and writer who loves binge-watching shows on the Food Network and reading any and every book she can get her hands on. Senior at Florida State University studying Editing, Writing, and Media.

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