As a senior collegiate member of my sorority, I have seen the following issue argued more than a few times between members of sororities and fraternities on campus: drinking in letters. Members of sororities and fraternities across the nation are either allowed or not allowed to drink in their letters. In my experience, I have found more people tend to question what constitutes as letters rather than question why the debate even exists.
My sorority views letters as the symbols or written words of our organization's name. Members in my organization are not allowed to drink, smoke, or use controlled substances while wearing apparel or using products, such as cups, shot glasses, etc., with our name or insignia on it. These rules are in place so the members in my organization associate respectful behavior with sorority events and socials. However, not all Greek letter organizations have these rules in place and their members are free to wear their letters no matter what activities they are engaging in.
Greek sororities and fraternities are organizations on campus which strive to provide their members with leadership experiences and philanthropic endeavors outside of the classroom. Furthermore, Greek letter organizations also provide their members with educational tools in order to help them succeed during college. Members of Greek letter organizations ultimately make the personal choice whether they do or don’t wear their letters while they party. However, even if they don’t wear their badge or favorite Greek shirt, sorority and fraternity members are always wearing their letters.
If a member of a Greek letter organization were to become obliterated at a party, it wouldn’t matter if he or she were wearing his or her letter shirt. Others attending the party would associate his name and behavior with the organization he or she is a part of, which ultimately adds to the overall negative depiction others have of sororities and fraternities. Therefore, why is drinking in letters so important? It truly doesn’t matter what you wear during a party, it matters how you act.
The argument can be made that everyone gets out of control and a little too drunk once in a while. Another argument that can be made is “don’t do anything in your letters that you wouldn’t do out of them." The point is, if an entire organization commits to the mission of not drinking in their letters and wears their letters during Greek events such as philanthropies, fundraisers, chapter meetings, etc., the overall positive opinions others have of Greek life would increase. Not to mention, wearing letters during community service events would boost positive associations the general public has with your organization. If sororities and fraternities committed to improving their overall appearance to the general public by simply raising awareness to when it is and when it isn’t appropriate to wear their letters, Greek stereotypes wouldn’t weigh so heavily on the backs of every Greek in America. Greeks want to wear their letters with pride, and their pride should be associated with behaviors which help to enhance individual morale and with actions which help change the community around them.