A Rebuttal of BU Today

| April 12, 2011

Gamma Phi Beta at Spring 2011 Recruitment

Yesterday, BU Today posted an article about Greek life on campus that upset many members of fraternities and sororities. The article as well as the youspeak video showed a clear bias against Greek life at BU, and honestly it seemed as though the producers of the video and article didn’t even attempt to get an accurate description of Greek Organizations. As a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority here at BU, I feel that I have an obligation to use this outlet in order to clear up all of the confusion about Greek life.

Many people associate Greek life with the movie “Animal House” (which is actually how the youspeak video begins). People tend to assume that members of Greek organizations don’t care about school, but rather they waste their collegiate life drinking and partying. Other critiques of Greek life claim that members simply “pay for their friends.” I didn’t join a sorority because I needed friends. The point of having recruitment in the spring is to give girls the ability to establish themselves on campus, and then take some time to make a decision whether or not to join a sorority.  I joined because I didn’t feel connected to BU in any way. I had a lot of trouble finding activities that I genuinely enjoyed on campus because BU doesn’t exactly make it easy for freshmen to settle in and find ways to get involved. Although Splash promotes virtually every group on campus,  I wouldn’t exactly call throwing the entire freshman class onto Nickerson and bombarding them with every club on campus a smooth, warm transition into college life. Joining Gamma Phi Beta is what stopped me from transferring out of BU my freshman year. The friends I have met through Gamma Phi Beta and Greek life as a whole are men and women who I respect and have extremely strong connections with. Just because dues are associated with being a member of a Greek organization does not mean that I am paying for these friendships.

The BU Today article focuses on the differences in involvement between fraternities and sororities, claiming that fraternities do almost nothing in order to positively impact campus, and states, “while sororities are ‘bursting at the seams,’ fraternities are having a harder time filling their ranks.” This statement seems a little bit strange to me considering that the brothers of Sigma Chi raised $23,000 last week for the Huntsman Cancer Institute during their annual Derby Days philanthropy event. While the article mainly discusses how fraternities appear to have problems connecting with male students past the level of partying, it also advertises for the new fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. SigEp is not the only fraternity that promotes something like the Balanced Man Program (promoting a sound mind and a sound body). Each fraternity in their own way promotes a development of character as well as strong personal connections.

In addition to Sigma Chi’s Derby Days, every fraternity and sorority on campus has multiple philanthropy events throughout the academic year. This year alone, Kappa Delta raised $10,000 for Girl Scouts of the USA, Gamma Phi Beta raised $3,500 for Campfire USA, Pi Kappa Alpha raised $8,700 for the Children’s Glaucoma Foundation, and Alpha Phi raised $7,000 for the American Heart Association. Those are just to name a few.

If Greek life can so easily raise thousands of dollars for various organizations, why is BU having so many issues getting 2,011 seniors to donate ONE DOLLAR back to the university? The Class Gift Campaign has clearly become aware of this disconnect because they tweeted about it…

Friends of mine outside of Greek life have also become increasingly aware of Greek involvement on campus. They say that BU isn’t the kind of school for Greek life in comparison to a big state school. At a larger state school, your fraternity or sorority takes over your life. My friend who is in a sorority at the University of Texas has told me that no matter how much she tries to get involved outside of Greek life, her sorority continues to dominate her college experience. Here at BU, joining a sorority or fraternity is anything but limiting and actually provides a number of opportunities. There are countless people in Greek life who also participate in programs with the Community Service Center, Programming Council, Howard Thurman Center, BU Student Government, PRSSA, and club and intramural sports.

And sure, there is a small percentage of people in Greek life that upholds the stereotype of only caring about partying. But I have also met countless students outside of Greek life who are just as careless, if not more. So next time you meet someone in Greek life at BU, don’t judge them. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and see all of the good they have to offer.

BU is a large school with a very diverse community, and to stereotype Greek life in the way that the BU Today article and video have done is extremely offensive to Greeks on campus. Because students and faculty constantly judge Greek life and make incorrect assumptions about it, Fraternities and Sororities have to incessantly vocalize the validity of their organizations. In reality, Greek life does no harm to campus life, but instead it provides a smaller community where students can enhance their college experiences. Greek life allows students to meet people they would have never met otherwise, to find opportunities whether related to work or other school activities, and to give back to the community. Sounds like a pretty well-rounded, valuable organization to me.

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Category: Boston, Campus Culture, featured

About the Author ()

Alexa is majoring in Art History with a minor in French. Coming from Atlanta, GA, she has developed an affection for peaches, peanuts, and the occasional banjo tune. Alexa also enjoys the color blue, crisp air during the wintertime, French film, celebrity gossip, and blackberry picking.

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  1. .. says:

    Obviously this all depends on which sorority you are in and your specific experience, and it is not fair to make them out to be awful or great because they are all different. But as someone who used to be in a sorority I can safely say that some of this is definitely true, at least for some. Yes they donate the most amount of money but they are forcedddd into it. NONE of the girls in the sorority want to do these fundraising things. They are complaining the WHOLE time and if they don’t show up they are fined and punished (even if it is for a legitimate reason, but usually they just don’t want to bother going). If you express any interest in the philanthropy, because you know, maybe that wass part of the reason you thought a sorority would be a good idea, it is a laughable idea and you soon learn to hide your interest in the outside world and anything that may be helpful to people in need. If they raise money it is because they will be publicly punished if they don’t participate. And/or have to donate their own personal money for what they missed. Which brings me to another point. You may not be ‘paying for your friends’ but they make you pay for everyyything. On top of dues, you have to pay for every single shirt they make you buy and fines for everything you miss. You are even punished for missing mixers which are supposed to be just for fun. That’s why they can’t have friends outside greek life, and why I had to quite. You get punished for hanging out with your real friends once in a while because you would have to pay fines for missing sorority stuff! Definitely can’t afford that. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out for greek life because I did already have friends and as people say it is for people who can’t find their own friends/connection to BU, but I feel like if you can’t find a friend or a connection to BU in the whole first semester you have larger problems and should look at yourself as a person, clearly these people didn’t join any of the numerous clubs on campus that already exist or take part in the volunteering/community service opportunities through which they could have been doing good and meeting people, and this is because it is not of interest to them. I’m not saying greek life is necessarily good or bad, but the people who are a part of it feel like they have to constantly be defending it so they automatically are going to be upset with the original article, but as someone who has been on both sides, I can’t see how they can deny most of these things..

  2. Molly Murtha says:

    Alexa, what a great way to represent Gamma Phi and the rest of the Greek community at BU. You present a wonderful article :)

  3. Mary says:

    It’s really unfortunate that the University takes such a negative position in regards to the Greek community. In my sorority alone, at least 7 sisters participate in BU programs to promote the university, including, most commonly, working as Ambassadors. Being a Greek teaches you to be part of a community, and to be enthusiastic about supporting the causes of that community. These are both characteristics that BU could use a lot more of. If more BU students supported their University like Greek students support their community, BU’s ranking, and its alumnae contributions would probably be much higher than they are now.

  4. Mike says:

    It’s articles like this, and the stance taken by school administration that mirrors this article’s sentiments, that ensure that I will donate not one cent to Boston University when I graduate. Much like the author of this post, joining a fraternity (and a BU unaffiliated one at that) is what stopped me from transferring from BU, and while I don’t have as strong a connection to the university as some of my fellow Greeks do, I truly believe that the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met in my time in my chapter have changed my life forever. I’ll never be sorry for going Greek, which is what I’m beginning to think BU wants us to feel.

  5. Julian Jensen says:

    Joe, you have a good point, but from my perspective as a Greek student, I felt that the article didn’t touch on the real greatness of the work that fraternities and sororities have done, like the $23,000 raised for charity last year, or the life-changing stories from Greek students like myself. It took a bias stance aligned with the University which will hurt the future Greek alumni relations and the efforts to build community and equality between students on-campus. Just highlighting the stereotypes about Greek life added to the ideology that these stereotypes are true—and they’re not. If anything, the article hurt a community of people, and yes we are sensitive. I think anyone would be if someone highlighted the negative stereotypes about their family name or their friends instead of helping to eliminate them.

  6. Alana Flanagan says:

    Maybe we are sensitive, but it’s a combination reaction to constantly having to defend our organizations and not being positively recognized or supported by a campus we as individuals give to much to. The Boston University Greek community is very different from most other college communities and we pride ourselves in our unity and acceptance of others. I’m proud to wear my Greek letters on campus, and as for sororites being called the judgemental and shallow ones, I feel like the book being judged by its cover when I do so.

  7. Joe says:

    Heard about it from friends and watched and read the article…so what’s all this fuss about?

    IMO the whole thing looked like they’re addressing the stereotypes and then showing how the groups were beating that stereotype? I understand that from inside the bubble of greek life it looks really condescending, but I think y’all need to take a step back and look at it again.

    If they had interviewed me in the street, I probably would have said the exact same things (and those were other students saying that stuff!) All this hub bub makes you guys look kinda sensitive…

  8. John Smith says:

    I think Dean Elmore should be ashamed for the comments he made which insulted both fraternities and sororities. I feel that any Dean of Students should be supportive, and a public apology would be appropriate. If he insulted any other group of students that compromised 10% of the BU Student body there would be outrage, but for some reason he finds it acceptable. I am ashamed of Dean Elmore and his actions, and also of the biased and ridiculous reporting of BU Today.

    • Julian Jensen says:

      Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. I thought of myself to be a good friend of his, but sadly this has upset me. I know our Dean has never been the biggest fan of Greek life, but he has ever given us the opportunities to prove ourselves in examples like Greek housing, a formal place to meet, and respect from the Dean of Students Office. Greeks love Dean Elmore, but after this I’m sure we’re more clear on the stance that the University has with 10% of it’s population. Maybe something good will come of this, but then again…

    • Katie says:

      I don’t think Dean Elmore said anything wrong – I feel that what he said was misconstrued and taken out of context by the author who clearly has a bit of a bias against Greek Life. Dean Elmore himself was a fraternity brother, therefore I see no reason for him to be badmouthing something that he too was a part of when he was a college student.

  9. This is a great piece, Alexa. Greek life is very spirited here and does contribute a lot to charities and community. However, I’ve definitely heard the downsides in this system – and some we clearly see at face value. The selection process for one, specifically for sororities, is based on appearance and first impressions. While it seems to work and girls fit into their prospective sororities, it’s judgmental. But I haven’t experienced rush, so I’m not an expert. If someone wants to enlighten me or point me wrong then please. I totally understand why people join them, I just think there are so many other ways to get yourself involved. Again, nice post and I hope the discussion continues.

  10. Tory Deasy says:

    This was a really well written rebuttal! As someone who came to BU with sooo many stereotypes about Greek Life I know how hard it can be to break past those barriers and show people the true colors of Greek Life. I recently joined and I could not be happier. I have never been more involved on campus and felt more at home. I also have never done so many philanthropy events in such a short period of time as well. I really loved your post and thank you for defending us and showing people how real we are.

  11. Daro Zukowski says:

    While much of the uproar regarding the BU Today article seems to arise from a misrepresentation or lack of proper context in quoting Dean Elmore, this response is spot on. Way to strap on your Colbert/Stewart boots to expose the Fox News of our campus, BU Today.

  12. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, your rebuttal is petty and completely unnecessary. The majority of the BU Today video praised Greek life and the charitable contributions you make. The article, on the other hand, simply stated that fraternities are less popular than sororities, which are indeed “bursting at the seams”. Even so, the few comments against Greek life were not entirely unfounded. The handful of people in my acquaintance who joined a sorority did so because they weren’t capable of making friends on their own, which made them feel out of place at BU. Also, although Greek organizations raise money for charities, they only do this once or twice a semester. Your mixers, however, often take place multiple times a week. And you wonder why people automatically assume that you do nothing but party? If your priorities were truly to serve the community, you would have joined the CSC. Furthermore, Greek life is full of peer pressure, judgement, and superficiality. I have heard several stories (all of which come from BU fraternity members themselves) in which pledges were forced to do completely unethical and potentially harmful acts in order to be initiated into a BU fraternity. Fortunately, I haven’t heard anything of this nature in regard to BU sororities, but sorority recruitment is not without its fair share of judgement. You tell the sorority hopefuls that they will “end up where [they're] supposed to be” yet what you should be saying is “you’ll end up with whichever sorority deems you up to par”. It’s a ruthless system, which deprives women of their self-confidence and self-worth. Personally, I believe that BU would be much better off without Greek life, and I wish BU Today would have been less lenient with you.

    • Kevin Tomaszek says:

      To anonymous who clearly has some pent up anger against sororities and fraternities:

      Fraternities and sororities usually have a mixer every 2-3 weeks to 1 a month. They participate in countless community service events and philanthropy events a semester. Many have lil brothers and sisters in the greater boston community. The difference between joining a secret social greek society and doing CSC is that CSC is about doing community service when possible. Greek societies like mine, Pike, offer a complete college experience that provides support and guidance. You have friends that took the same classes you did and provide tutoring without having to go to campus support. You have friends that support you at 3am in the morning when you just found out your grandfather passed away. Pike has a motto of SLAG – Scholars, Leaders, Athletes, and Gentlemen. When you do not meet the standards you are helped to meet those goals. Scholarly they tutor you, Leading – we have continuing education as well as leadership experiences. If you are business student you have the chance of being a treasurer and handling more than 60,000 (more than the student union has to work with). Athletes – pike prides physical fitness, and keeping yourself healthy through sports and self betterment. In a society where obesity runs rampant, its nice to have a pushing hand to keep you fit even when tests make you want to stay in and study 24/7. Finally gentlemen. During pledgeship, i learned about proper phone etiquit, how to tip, when to eat at a formal dinner, how to write thank you letters, what to wear for what occasion, how to treat women (in our group if you don’t do this correctly we have Judicial Board to punish you), how to treat your brothers and other guys. Don’t think if at a social event if a brother gets into a fight he is automatically innocent. If his improper actions led him to fighting, they are j-boarded. We are taught that gentlemen doesn’t mean to just girls.

      PS if you heard fraternity brothers talking about hazing how do you know that they weren’t making stuff up to feel tougher. While i do not condone it, if they did participate in hazing, then it is something between them and their fraternity. Your government military academies hazing tactics are 10000% greater than anything BU fraternities may do. Society is judgmental. You pick who you will fit with and they pick who they will fit with. It isn’t such that i want him to join because he’s cool or sororities choosing girls because the are hot or not because they are fat. We choose them because we feel they will mix appropriately with the chapter and will give back what they take out or make it better. (our interview process goes back to asking questions about SLAG – how they presented themselves as SLAG during high school)

    • Icee Etheridge says:

      You don’t have to be apart of the CSC to serve the community and quite frankly I think it silly that you seems to think so. It’s elitest ideas like that that make some people uncomfortable with joining organizations. Greek Life is a good way to meet people and make lifelong connections. That’s why a lot of people join and there’s nothing wrong with that-haven’t you joined a club or organization to meet people? And just because the people YOU know buy into the stereotypes doesn’t mean that everybody does. The whole point of this blog post is that the article over-generalized. She does a good job of pointing out that there are other Greeks that have other priorities.

    • Spencer Pazer says:

      ANONYMOUS

      Your opinion is biased, and ignorant. Greek Life will always receive, and more importantly, endure criticism from those that exist outside of it. I don’t know what would drive you or someone else to feel such contempt about Greek Life to the point where one might believe its existence is unnecessary, but that statement is about as ignorant and baseless as it gets. I am sure that any Greek member, including myself, would love to take the time to explain to you the apparent misconceptions you have. But you, like most people who speak slanderously of things they fail to understand, have hid behind a curtain of anonymity. As you can see from comment postings above and below, we are not hiding.

    • Julian Jensen says:

      I respect your reply, but I would like to point out my thoughts

      “The handful of people in my acquaintance who joined a sorority did so because they weren’t capable of making friends on their own, which made them feel out of place at BU” — So if it’s difficult to make long lasting friendships at BU, what should you do? If you feel out of place, what should you do? I think Greek life gives students just like this the opportunity to make friends when the opportunity to do so isn’t available though the normal means. I joined a fraternity because I came from the west coast alone with no other friends when I arrived. I certainly didn’t just sit around and moped, I did something about my situation and joined a group of guys who have changed my life forever.

      “you’ll end up with whichever sorority deems you up to par” — Ever tried to apply to job or college and they turned you down because you just weren’t the right fit for them? If the world was all perfect, then everyone would have just the job they wanted. Selection processes exist for a reason, and although it may appear harsh, the rest of the professional world works in the same way.

      “Also, although Greek organizations raise money for charities, they only do this once or twice a semester.” — How often do you raise money for charity? We raised over $23,000 last year. I challenge you to singlehandedly do the same. Charity isn’t about how often you donate or even how much, it’s about inspiring others to think beyond themselves and help those in need. The issue with this article is that even though most BU Today pieces praise students and other groups, this one failed to inspire the rest of the BU community to think positively about Greek life.

      “Greek life is full of peer pressure, judgement, and superficiality.” — Ironically it seems you have made some pretty significant judgements about Greek life. I challenge you to think outside the box and meet with a Greek student. Ask them these things in person and see what they say…it might just change your mind.

  13. Teppy Nelson says:

    I am so happy you wrote this. Even for me to read, as a BU and Sigma Kappa alum, it’s inspiring. Congratulations, Alexa, for standing up for yourself and taking pride in an organization and community that so often is portrayed negatively.

  14. Kat Oxley says:

    This was a fabulous rebuttal! I could not have said it better myself. You completely hit on exactly what Greek Life is like at BU, and especially why I myself joined a sorority. Thank you so much for writing this!

  15. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, your rebuttal is petty and completely unnecessary. The majority of the BU Today video praised Greek life and the charitable contributions you make. The article, on the other hand, simply stated that fraternities are less popular than sororities, which are indeed “bursting at the seams”. The few comments against greek life were not entirely unfounded. The handful of people in my acquaintance who joined a sorority did so because they weren’t capable of making friends on their own, which made them feel out of place at BU. Also, although Greek organizations raise money for charities, they only do this once or twice a semester. Your mixers, however, often take place multiple times a week. And you wonder why people automatically assume that you do nothing but party? If your priorities were truly to serve the community, you would have joined the CSC. Furthermore, Greek life is full of peer pressure, judgement, and superficiality. I have heard several stories (all of which come from BU fraternity members themselves) in which pledges were forced to do completely unethical and potentially harmful acts in order to be initiated into a BU fraternity. Fortunately, I haven’t heard anything of this nature in regard to BU sororities, but sorority recruitment is not without its fair share of judgement. You tell the sorority hopefuls that they will “end up where [they're] supposed to be” yet what you should be saying is “you’ll end up with whichever sorority deems you up to par”. It’s a ruthless system, which deprives women of their self-confidence and self-worth. Personally, I believe that BU would be much better off without Greek life, and I wish BU Today would have been less lenient with you.

  16. Icee Etheridge says:

    GREAT rebuttal, Alexa! I know a lot of people who are in Greek Life at BU and have (imo) a stronger committment to community service and their academics than people who aren’t (myself included, lol). I can’t even count how many letters I see doing service projects for the University (the very one that seeks to criticize and generalize). Meanwhile, all anybody ever cares about is the parties and the ‘biddies’. Sure, there are some Greeks that are more concerned with going, but then so are students that aren’t in Greek Life that are the same. The over generalization just tells me that although BU touts its diversity at the top of its lungs, we’ve got a LONG way to go and a lot to learn. Thanks for speaking up!

  17. Jenny Gilbert says:

    Thank you. This really needed to be written after BU Today’s piece yesterday. Like a lot of posters have mentioned, there stereotypes some of us, myself included, came to BU with about Greek life. Some of the brightest, most interesting and caring people I’ve met on campus are involved in Greek life. I never considered it before I came here and now occasionally the thought has crossed my mind just because I know so many great people involved with it. Thank you for changing the stereotypes.

  18. Kaitlin Daly says:

    I am in Greek Life and while I did not find the BU Today video horribly offensive, I know the response has been less than favorable, which is what drove me to reading your rebuttal. I think you’ve highlighted some really excellent aspects of Greek Life, especially the amount of money Greeks at BU have raised for our philanthropies. For Sigma Chi to have raised $23,000 in one week is absolutely incredible, especially when the Class of 2011 can’t each donate $1. Thank you for drawing attention to an aspect of Greek Life that, in my opinion, is one of the best parts.

  19. Colin O'Neill says:

    I thought the beginning of the “youspeak” video was from “Revenge of the Nerds” not “Animal House”? Sorry I’m not trying to petty. I just know that this will bother me for the rest of the day if I can’t figure out where the clip is from.

  20. Julian Jensen says:

    Great article that highlights the importance that Greek organizations have at BU in creating community. So many students & administrators make quick judgements about Greek students. I have taken the time to get to know many of them, and they are no different, if not more enthusiastic about having their own close-knit communities at BU. Way to go on the article, great rebuttal.

  21. Jordan Evangelista says:

    Great defense. I’ve noticed Greek Life doing a lot for the foundations they have committed to support, and the dedication to philanthropy is not only outstanding and commendable, but inspiring to others to give back to their communities.

  22. Adam DiBattista Adam DiBattista says:

    I am generally not the biggest fan of Greek life, but I found this an excellent defense, and something that more people should read.

  23. Alana Flanagan says:

    Showing Greek Life members to be involved, caring, and intelligent. Way to go Alexa!

  24. IMHO, the reason people associate Greek life with partying and “Animal House” is because that is the reputation some organizations have for themselves. While not the case here as much as elsewhere, for college students, frats are often the underage (and/or fake ID-less) substitute for going to a bar or going to a club. You get all dressed up with your friends, pay to get in, grind with some stranger a la Bonnie’s post, and go home. At Binghamton, that was often my weekend experience and certainly my sole interaction with the Greek community there. Here, I see so much more involvement on campus, and it’s really changed my perspective on Greek life.

    Good post, Alexa!