Greek life is about more than just partying

Joining a sorority means you will be hazed: It’s supposedly a rite of passage. Everyone goes through it. Partying and drinking are the top priorities of a sorority, and if you don’t do these things, you won’t be accepted. Less than nine months ago, I believed all of these stereotypes because I was an outsider looking in. Now, I am an insider looking out and am embarrassed that I ever believed these stereotypes.

Yes, hazing does happen within some chapters. Yes, some people believe it is a rite of passage. Yes, drinking and partying is a priority to some members of the Greek community. However, the small number of organizations and individuals who see hazing as a rite of passage and who solely focus on partying and drinking are not truly members of the Greek community. I, as a participant in Greek life, do not associate myself with these people. True members of the Greek community value the well-being of their brothers and sisters; they offer support to other organizations on campus whether Greek or not; and most importantly, they positively affect their university and community.

Unfortunately, Greek life in its entirety is being depicted as dangerous, racist, vicious and criminal because of the actions of a few. These few individuals and organizations do not define us. What defines Greek life is it’s philanthropic programs, its comradery between chapters, its strong ties to the community and the lifetime bonds between its members.

Before you judge us for the few, look at our many. Look at the community service hours we participate in, look at the money we raise for our philanthropic partners, look at the opportunities we give to our members. Our events may not make the front page of a newspaper or the nightly news, but our events are there: They are happening every day.

Nine months ago, you wouldn’t have caught me dead wearing a T-shirt with Greek letters or even showing up to a Greek life event, but my perspective changed for the better. Greek life, like most other experiences such as college, sports or relationships, is not everything you see on the news or in the movies. It is an experience best felt and understood by being a participant rather than a bystander.