Greek life has always been a polarizing issue. It seems like people either love it and can’t wait to get involved or do not see its appeal at all.
For this reason, I’ve noticed there’s a gap between the people who participate in Greek life and those who do not. Since witnessing bid day — when people who are in recruitment are officially invited to a specific fraternity or sorority — and “big reveals” on my Instagram feed, where new members are introduced to someone who will act as their older sibling, I’ve begun thinking about how Greek life is built around exclusivity.
Some people don’t get chosen by a chapter they may have been set on. And some people don’t get chosen at all. It’ possible this rejection is based on looks. According to the Huffington Post, the Alpha Chi Omega sorority chapter at University of Southern California sorority had “appearance guidelines” that were used when meeting potential members: strict rules for things like eyeliner color and eyebrow thickness.
That seems elitist to me. Those who aren’t deemed a good fit are obviously not going to be allowed to participate.
While rejection is a part of life, I think the part that haunts me about this type of rejection in particular is not knowing what makes someone a “good fit.”
This vastly differs from other, more inclusive clubs at Temple, where anyone can join, or where there are more specific guidelines like required skills or experience to justify who gets a position.
Once initiated into Greek life, among other things, members commonly throw and attend exclusive parties where only approved people — members of Greek life — are allowed to attend. And if they want to allow outsiders, those outsiders must pay a fee.
The subjective selectivity surrounding Greek life events again reminds me that it is up to fraternities and sororities who they choose to include in festivities. Inevitably, this can create a sort of bubble, where members of Greek life tend to avoid mingling with those outside, furthering the gap between those in fraternities and sororities and those who are not.
Diversity is another concern I have about Greek life. According to a 2010 study at Mississippi State University, only 3.8 percent of fraternity members on three college campuses were non-white.
I can’t help but notice that most of the people sporting attire adorned with letters of the Greek alphabet on campus or social media are white. And my exclusivity concerns don’t stop with impacting people of color.
Since members of Greek life are often required to pay fees and buy things for their “littles” or “bigs,” low-income students may also be discouraged from joining.
According to the online news publication Seattle Post-Intelligencer, sorority members are expected to pay around $500 in “dues” each semester. And they are also expected to pay dues as alumnae.
This letter is not meant to say that Greek life is all bad and that those involved are wrong for participating. Fraternities and sororities make great strides in supporting charities and helping students break out of their shells to become friends.
But in order to make Greek life less elitist, I think people from diverse backgrounds should be given more of a chance to participate. While student organizations reserve the right to admit members based on their own rules, the requirements should be transparent and accessible.
Myra Mirza is a junior computer science major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.