Battling the Stigma of Greek Life

By Nick Witwer, Logan Stae, & Sadie Thuestad

 

Members of Zeta Omega Tau on their bid night. Credit to Macensie Faller.

With four sororities and two fraternities on the campus of The University of Wisconsin- Green Bay, students that are interested in joining a chapter of Greek Life have different options to choose from.  College students join sororities and fraternities for many different reasons. Still, the most common ones are making friends, making connections for future careers, and participating in volunteer work in group settings. However, people who do not know how Greek Life works tend to view it negatively.

Kappa Sigma Fraternity

The two fraternities on the Green Bay campus are Alpha Zeta Phi and Kappa Sigma.  According to Kappa Sigma’s national website, “Kappa Sigma is the largest college social fraternity in the world with more than 200,000 living members, including over 16,000 undergraduates and 299 chapters and colonies located throughout the United States and Canada. Founded in 1869 at the University of Virginia, Kappa Sigma International Headquarters is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.”  Current brother and President of the Upsilon-Eta Chapter Kappa sophomore Sigma Nathan Gajewski, who is studying finance, says that the basis that their fraternity is founded on are the four pillars of “Fellowship, scholarship, leadership, and service.”  Kappa Sigma holds its members to a high standard, wanting them to be the best brothers, leaders, and students that they can be during their time in the fraternity.

Members of Kappa Sigma on a bonding retreat. Credit to Nathan Gajewski

Community Works

Kappa Sigma spends a lot of time in the community participating in volunteer work and fundraising, some of which include working with the Green Bay Packers, Special Olympics of Wisconsin, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, and hosting bingo nights.

Community service is a staple in the foundations of all Greek organizations on campus.  Although the fraternity participates in events on campus and within the community, Kappa Sigma is faced with the stigma of what people think happens in Greek Life.

Kappa Sigma Executive Board members at a leadership summit. Credit to Nathan Gajewski.

Battling the Stereotypes

The stigma surrounding Greek Life is not a new occurrence as it has been around ever since National Lampoon Animal House came out. For those who do not know, Animal House is an over-the-top comedy film from 1978 that exaggerates fraternities and sororities. Animal House was filmed at the University of Oregon campus.  Ever since this movie came out, the negative connotations have followed Greek Life members, and they have had an uphill battle since. To combat this, Pennsylvania State University has written an article about the stigma surrounding Greek Life. Many of the stigmas can easily be proven false by doing basic background research. In the article, Pennsylvania State confronts the stigma of Greek Life, such as hazing, binge drinking, and sexual assault, as seen in movies. In reality, it is far from the truth.

According to hazingprevention.org, hazing is defined as any action or situation created intentionally which causes embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule that risks emotional and or physical harm to members of a group or team.  Although people outside the walls of Greek Life presume that hazing takes place within groups, they are incorrect.

Contrary to popular belief, hazing is not as apparent as you think. Some common forms of hazing include testing new members on useless information, socially isolating new members, binge drinking, and requiring new members to do inappropriate or unsafe activities.  Despite what most people think, hazing does not take place in most Greek Life communities and groups.  Kappa Sigma brother Nathan Gajewski says, “I guess the traditional stigma of Greek Life is something that we want to steer away from.  That’s not who we are. We want to show that we are better than that stigma.”  It has been proven in evolutionary psychology that humans need to connect with others, so many people join these Greek Life groups.

Zeta Omega Tau’s sister, junior Macensie Faller, who is studying psychology, says, “We have had it before, with girls wondering what we do in the sorority.  We politely tell them what ZOT (Zeta Omega Tau) is about, what we stand for, and that we are a community-based sorority.”

Zeta Omega Tau Sorority

The four sororities on campus at UW-Green Bay include Theta Eta Alpha, Psi Theta Nu, Kappa Beta Gamma, and Zeta Omega Tau. Member and Sentinel of Zeta Omega Tau Macensie Faller has been a sister for two years and helps oversee the 37 women within the sorority.  Zeta Omega Tau is a community-based sorority that requires each member to do ten hours of community service. They participate in the move-in day on campus, volunteering with various campus events, and Miss Amazing.  Miss Amazing is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for girls and women with disabilities in Wisconsin to help build their self-esteem.  This event is one of Zeta Omega Tau’s favorites to participate in, with Faller saying, “Miss Amazing is another event we volunteer at in the community for the women of Wisconsin that are just a little extra amazing.  A lot of the women have some sort of disability and are given a beauty pageant.”

Zeta Omega Tau sisters volunteering at Miss Amazing. Credit to Macensie Faller.

While much of the community still thinks that Greek Life members are in their respective groups to have friends and raise trouble, Kappa Sigma and Zeta Omega Tau are working day after day to prove that people are narrative pushing about them is wrong.  Members of Greek Life work to better their communities and campuses, build lasting friendships, and build a better name for all Greek Life members and groups across the country.

Citations

  • “The Stigma Surrounding Greek Life .” Life At Penna State, 29 Nov. 2018, sites.psu.edu/pennapassion/2018/10/11/the-stigma-surrounding-greek-life/#:~:text=Hazing.,Binge%20Drinking.&text=If%20you%20search%20anything%20about,binge%20drinking%2C%20and%20sexual%20assault.
  • Phi, Omega Delta. “Turning the Stigma on Its Head: the Greek Life Experience Through Our Lens.” Omega Delta Phi, 28 Sept. 2017, omegadeltaphi.com/turning-stigma-head-greek-life-experience/.
  • Sampogne, Nicolas, et al. “Greek Life: End The Stigma.” The Odyssey Online, 16 Oct. 2019, theodysseyonline.com/greek-life-end-the-stigma
  • Prevention, Hazing. https://hazingprevention.org/home/hazing/facts-what-hazing-looks-like/. Hazing Prevention.org, 2020.

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