Professor Ann O’Bryan
November 30, 2013
Greeks vs GDIs
The Greek community is one that definitely has stirred up much controversy in recent years. From the stereotypes of excessive partying, drinking and inflicting harm on others, a term referred to as hazing. In our blog, Greeks vs GDIs, you will get a plethora of information provided through images, articles, and videos on how the Greek Society (Fraternities and Sororities) and GDIs (God Damn Independents) have an ongoing disputation amongst one another. Many colleges and universities around the world possess this particular dispute. There are many benefits of being part of the Greek Society and being a GDI, but there are also disadvantages for both. GDIs tend to slam the Greek system with these stereotypes, and in return Greeks try to prove themselves to exceed the standard expectation placed upon them by GDIs who don’t understand what the true meaning of Greek unity is all about.
A common stereotype GDIs tend to throw at Greeks is for those involved in Greek life there is the idea that Greeks are ‘paying’ for their friends. The expense of joining a sorority or fraternity is outrageously high. This paves the way for those with a great amount of money to make friends because they are simply part of the same group. The common personality bash also occurs, but anything can be paid off with money. This organization requires a lot of money to function, but is that really where it all goes? The next stereotype that comes with being part of Greek life is that sororities and fraternities are known to have many parties. This seems to be an endless void of which most of the money goes to. However, the plain action of a few groups is not all to blame for this idea. Most college students have the idea engraved into their brain by the time they reach higher education due to the common reinforcement of television programs. So now that only rich, party folk are allowed into the Greek life, the innocent people are again labeled by the media to be dumb or not care about their classes. This is especially a common idea among the sororities because the illiterate girls who join are often pretty. Which brings about the next common stereotype. Getting into a group is heavily based on looks and not school. Stereotypes are given to these groups and they often stick, even during employment. An employer can look into your past and if he doesn’t like your label, then he does not have to hire you. This is especially true in the modern age of technology and instantaneous social networking.
Another common stereotype pertaining to the Greek community includes a potentially harmful, critical predicament among college young adults. This term is referred to as hazing. Hazing is the practice of rituals or activities that involves harassment, abuse, or humiliation used as a method to initiate a person into a group. These groups are mainly examined as fraternities and sororities in college campuses. Other groups such as gangs, sports teams, school groups, and military units also utilize hazing. Hazing can have detrimental effects on a number of levels and is frequently related to a plethora of consequences. Some issues include physical harm, death, emotional harm, student attrition, emotional distress, rise of mistrust amongst group members, abuse, lawsuits, and liability. Research from Cornell University discovered that hazing also leads to loss of friendships, resentment towards members, injuries, exhaustion, physical pain, severe intoxication, seizures, stress illnesses, depression, and mental health problems.
The realities of hazing are dramatically different than the humorous images many people associate with the term. Hazing is an abuse of power that can have debilitating and life-threatening consequences. It has been associated with more than 50 deaths in college fraternities, and countless more physical injuries including paralysis. Hazing has also conjured up devastating emotional effects that can result for many young men and women. It is astounding what people go through just to be part of a group or association. Joining a fraternity or sorority in a college will inevitably lead to an initiation that might have the characteristics of hazing.
As a young woman new to the Greek system, Heather Raksin had quite a bit to say from her personal experience:
“Last summer, I battled with the idea of going Greek; I honestly had no idea what sororities and fraternities were really about until I went through Fall Rush in 2013. During this time I discovered that Greek life on CSUN’s campus is more than the typical partying, drinking, pretty faces, hazing, drama, letters on everything, paying for friends, socializing, and posting the ever-so-popular “red cup” photos. Greeks here are about unity, philanthropy, friendship, scholarship, networking, time management, personal and organizational growth and so much more! But the media had projected a negative view of the Greek community and had caused me to question whether or not I really wanted to be just another catty sorority girl. But looking back at the decision I made only months ago, to join Alpha Omicron Pi, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
When asked why she feels like she wouldn’t change her decision to rush and pledge Alpha Omicron Pi, Heather responded: “Greeks on CSUN’s campus tend to be more involved in other activities and clubs, while also holding jobs and juggling school, family, friends and their chapter events on top of it. Being in a Greek organization teaches time management and responsibility and even though these students are so involved and busy, they still maintain higher GPA’s than most students who opt out of Greek life. Along with this, being a part of a sorority or fraternity is a lifelong commitment. Chapters have an alumnae relations position on their cabinet that helps current and active members of the organization get in touch with alumnae who hold jobs in the career fields they are interested in. It’s been said that it’s not about how good you are at something; it’s about the people you know that can get you the job. What I love the most about the Greek community at CSUN is just that, we are a community. Every chapter has its different philanthropy that it supports and donates to and they put events on to raise money for it. At these events you won’t just see one fraternity or sorority, you will see them all because everyone supports and participates in the others’ philanthropies. We are more than just partiers and people who pay for friends, our dues go to maintaining the chapter house, events and to help our officers do their jobs better. People may look down upon us and think negatively about what they think we stand for but we are all a very close-knit community and we form bonds through being Greek.”
From personal experience, I found that the Greek system is so much more than the stereotypes. I saw that none of the stereotypes was proven true to me. We care more for grades than parties, but that doesn’t mean we don’t party and certainly doesn’t mean that Greeks are the only ones who enjoy partying. If anything, fraternities allow GDIs to come into their parties whenever they host them, and sororities at CSUN aren’t even permitted to host house parties. When it comes down to it, if we have things to do that have to do with academics, we are taught to put them before our social lives because we are required to maintain a certain GPA to stay in our organizations. During our new member period, we were not hazed. Our time as new members only served to teach us more about our organization and our rituals that had been brought up way back when our sorority had been founded in 1897. Being in a sorority has had such a positive influence on my life as a college student and I can’t wait to see what other journeys are in store.
These personal experiences we’ve provided are portrayed on our blog through the pro-Greek posts available to view, however as a form of symbolism, all of the pro-Greek posts are more towards the bottom of our page because it shows how our stereotypes bury all these positive experiences.
Conclusively, as you can see through proven facts as well as through Heather’s experience as well as my own, there is a wide variety of good the Greek system does. We are very philanthropic, we keep each other in check, and here at CSUN we have a strict, anti-hazing policy. The expense is quite a bit, but not as much as GDIs have claimed it to be. Our semester dues do not go towards parties, but rather towards fun events such as sisterhood and brotherhood retreats, formals, philanthropic-related expenses, etc. In fact: here at CSUN, sororities are not permitted to throw parties, and if a fraternity is to throw a party, it’s theme must be appropriate and should the university find out of any misconduct pertaining to the party or its theme, there are consequences for the fraternity. Most of the houses are dry houses, meaning no drugs and no alcohol is permitted on those properties. Our community service hours and money we raise for our philanthropies as well as the philanthropies of other Greek houses is tremendous, however unfortunately all the good the Greek system does becomes buried by all the stereotypes placed upon it by GDIs with a lack of understanding for what we really do. GDIs lack this understanding and therefore the belief of the Greek community stereotypes still hold true which is why the ongoing dispute continues between GDIs who have yet to understand what we’re all about, and the Greeks who go great lengths to prove them wrong.