I was born in 1997, and my first exposure to what college would be like was watching reruns of "Greek" on ABC Family (now called FreeForm). I remember sneakily watching the show as a kid because I knew my mom wouldn’t approve of its adult scenarios. All that the show seemed to portray about Greek life were the parties, the bad decisions, the drama, and the irresponsibility. But what it did not reveal was the friendships, the love, the support, and the philanthropy.
Hollywood has a funny way of doing this, really. It’s as if they try to create a false reality for viewers. True love can happen, but the odds of you losing a shoe and your “one and only” finding it and chasing after you are slim to none. Being a part of a Greek organization is nothing like you see on TV. It’s about finding yourself, where you fit in, and most importantly, finding a home.
Here is what Greek life is not: a collection of crazy college kids who join these organizations so they can party and barely pass their classes. Here’s what Greek life is: a collection of driven young men and women who go out and find communities that accept them. It’s where they find people who will inspire them and join them on their journey to survive the stressful but rewarding years of college. And of course, fraternities and sororities can let loose a little on the weekend, but that one small element is blown entirely out of proportion when considering all of the positive effects and attributes of Greek life. Greek organizations serve philanthropies and do more community service than any other young adult organization.
And now for the most infamous piece of Greek life -- hazing. Hazing is elaborately depicted on TV and in movies, and unfortunately it does happen, but not nearly as much as people think. In fact, most Greek organizations don’t actually haze, but the ones that do take it so far that lives are lost or ruined. The subsequent harsh media criticism and public reproach to these incidents are what give Greek organizations a bad rap. Think about it this way -- planes are safe, but anytime a plane crashes it’s glorified on the news for days.
It’s a shame that some organizations still think hazing is OK, but as a whole, the practice is coming to a close. However, hazing occurs in more than just Greek life. Sports teams often haze new players, even some school clubs or workplaces haze the newbies. It stinks that a few irresponsible, ill-minded individuals can ruin the reputation we as Greeks have strived so hard to achieve.
To close, let me leave you with some facts. Eighty-five percent of all male Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity. Forty of 47 U.S. Supreme Court Justices since 1910 were fraternity men. Seventy-six percent of all congressmen belong to a fraternity. The first female senator was Greek. Members of these societies go on to accomplish great things. And no, it’s not joining Greek life that allowed them to do these kinds of things, but it’s what Greek life stands for and attracts. Intelligent, driven young men and women join these organizations and make them what they are. So if you’re thinking about going Greek, don’t rely on what you see in the media. Evan won’t cheat on you, Rusty won’t get crabs from Tina, but Rebecca, Evan, Rusty, Ashleigh, Dale, Casey, Cappie, Calvin, and you will remain friends forever.