“I never wanted to wear my letters to class until last semester,” junior member of Alpha Epsilon Phi and national sorority representative, Tommie-Ann Hanlon said. “Everyone has always said ‘Oh you’ll get judged and they’ll think you don’t go to class’ and things like that.”
There are seven Greek councils and 27 different chapters on campus, including local, national and multicultural chapters. All are represented on Greek Council, which is responsible for overseeing all of Greek Life.
Senior and member of Delta Kappa Kappa, Conor Malone is the local fraternity representative on Greek Council. He said members of his own organization have admitted to not wearing their letters because of a negative perception it might have from professors or peers.
“I’ve even heard people say that their professors are going to hold them to a higher standard because they are in Greek Life,” Malone said. “That’s not really the bigger issue, I think it is the general stereotype of what Greek Life is to most people is a negative thing.”
Students deal with Greek Life stereotypes every day, said Greek Life Student Involvement Advisor Nicole Morse.
“We have these types of conversations all the time,” Morse said. “I think it is the media that is out there. Movies, like “Animal House“, have associated Greek Life with a keg.”
According to Morse, students have come to her about professors who have blamed a late paper on that fact that they “wore letters.”
“I want [students] to be proud to be Greek,” Morse said. “We talk a lot about how and when to wear your letters and that you should be the best version of yourself because that is what our letter should bring out of us.”
“People look at the national headlines of hazing, death or alcohol poisoning, and tarnish the idea of what Greek Life is,” Malone said. “Those are more isolated incidents that aren’t a clear image of what actually is Greek Life, which is why people might feel that way, which I understand why but it is just unfortunate.”
According to Hanlon, stereotypes don’t come from nowhere.
“There is obviously a reason why they exist,” Hanlon said. “I think they existed more in the past, like when hazing was legal. In 2017, I think people are holding onto old stereotypes.”
If any group of men were compared to a group associated with a fraternity, it would be found that they participate in the same things any group of friends would do in college, Malone said.
Within the past year, Greek Life has incorporated new policies to “raise the standards.”
Malone joined Greek Life when he was a second semester freshman. Now a senior, he has noticed a change not only in the way people perceive it but how it is organized.
“I don’t think there were standards back then,” Malone said. “There might have been but they definitely weren’t as significant.”
Last year, the Standard of Excellence was implemented requiring Greek Organization to meet specific academic and programming requires within each organization.
According to Hanlon, ever since a sole student involvement advisor was hired for Greek Life, there has been a turnaround in the way Greek Life is operated. They are recruiting in a more positive light and planning to have Greek Week, so it is more inclusive compared to previous years.
“With Nicole as our sole advisor, we have more positive structure,” Hanlon said. “Everything has been more organized with a more positive imagine and has changed the way we have done things in the past.”