I was doing my usual scrolling through Twitter recently, and I found a tweet that seemed to be making fun of a set of photos. In hopes of discovering some classic Twitter humor, I decided to engage further. The tweet referenced a photo series that a group of sorority girls created, where they attempted to defy the stereotypes of sorority girls in America with statements like: "Society says sorority girls are rich and spoiled, but I pay for my dues and tuition," or "Society says sorority girls buy their friends, but you can't put a price on sisterhood." The photo series itself is sweet – it has a message of inclusivity and positivity. Yet, the responses to this photo series were anything but that.
One Twitter user responded stating that the photo series was "pathetic" because, "Some of us are actually from diverse backgrounds, immigrant families, low-income households, etc."
Another Twitter user mentioned, "I saw some s*** like this on my Facebook literally a week ago lmao why do they wanna be oppressed so bad."
It is absolutely no secret that Greek life has a bad reputation. Popular movies like "Neighbors" paint members of Greek life as shallow, rich, and incompetent for the purpose of shock value and humor. Although this image was manufactured for the purpose of entertainment, the idea has seeped into the mindset of society to ultimately promote an extreme overgeneralization of an opportunity in college that is anything but harmful.
Many of the responses to the original tweet seemed to stem from the assumption that being an intelligent and reasonable student and being a part of Greek Life are mutually exclusive. This concept is extremely hypocritical. The human identity is multifaceted and contextual. Every person engages and utilizes their intelligence in different ways depending on what the context requires, and to reason that members of Greek Life are not privy to this exact ability simply because of their affiliation is absurd.
Furthermore, users who claimed that Greek life lacks "diverse backgrounds" or "immigrant families" are only reinforcing this stereotype. Although I'd like to first state that I believe that Greek life absolutely does harness a fair amount of diversity, I think making this type of argument would be stale. Instead, I believe that restating stereotypes such as the above only isolates those from diverse backgrounds who may want to join Greek life, because they worry they will be cornered or ridiculed by their peers.
If you believe that Greek life is exclusive, my first recommendation would be for you to challenge that exclusivity by joining and breaking the barriers and proving Greek life wrong. But if we as a society continue to paint Greek life as this "whitewashed" organization and then ridicule any person of color who may be interested in joining, we are simply generating redundancy and contributing to the perceived issue.
In response to ideas of oppression, I agree with the statement that members of Greek life are by no means oppressed. There are minority groups who face genuine and violent oppression, and to use a word as strong as that to describe Greek life demeans those who endure a genuine struggle. However, I would argue that members of Greek life are unfairly stereotyped against, which is only highlighted by the backlash this photo series received. A photo series that had no purpose beyond defying stereotypes and promoting a well-rounded understanding gathered sarcastic feedback such as "sorority girls are braver than US Marines." Yet, all this negative feedback manifested in response to a photo series that had no intention of marginalizing or ridiculing those who were not a part of Greek life.
Instead, Twitter users took it upon themselves to assume the worst of Greek life.
I'm not saying that everyone needs to go rush to their nearest flower shop and send a sorority a beautiful bouquet of flowers begging for an apology. In fact, I couldn't care less if you like Greek life or not after this. What I am saying is that isolating and marginalizing members of Greek life because you believe that they unfairly prejudice those from diverse backgrounds is a problem. If you believe that joining an organization that promotes positivity, philanthropy, and mentorship isn't for you, that is absolutely ok. It isn't for everyone, and that's not a trait exclusive to membership in Greek life by any means. It is worthy to note, though, that making fun of sororities or fraternities for unreasonable assumptions you maintain makes you no better than what you perceive Greek life to be, and that is something to absolutely be mindful of.