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Running Head: The Real Sorority Life

The Real Sorority Life


Devin Enix
University of Kentucky
October 2014

The Real Sorority Life

Abstract
Whats a sorority? Who are the girls that make up these sororities? Are the stereotypes true, or
just stereotypes? After researching and interviewing two members of sororities who are different ages,
part of different chapters, and who both met none of the common stereotypes I am now able to answer
these and many more. I found many things out about the sorority culture and why it is important to these
members to be a part of their house specifically. So much determines how the girls go about choosing a
sorority and one thing I never knew was how much a sororities philanthropy ties into which house they
chose. Each sorority chapter has their own philanthropy, or charity/organization they sponsor. When
sororities do their events in which they raise money or collect donations, these proceeds go straight to
their philanthropy. Both of the girls I spoke with, based a lot of their decision of what house they chose,
by the organization the house sponsored. Community service is the largest aspect of sororities, but yet the
least acknowledged aspect. I have come to the conclusion that this is because most people want to hear
the negative things over the positive. Negative things are easier to remember sometimes and thats
because they can be easier to talk about. These girls volunteer several times a week in order to support
their organization, Omega Chi supports Miracle Network Children, and Theta sponsors CASA, which is a
program that stands against domestic violence, along with several other house each supporting their own
cause. Every stereotype I will talk about, will be proven to not be 100%. Sorority girls are not all alike,
they arent all rich, they dont all spend every night partying and abusing the use of alcohol, no acts of
hazing have been witnessed as far as my research goes and each and every girl in these sororities have
unique personalities, no qualities that make them all seem the same. There are so many different cultures
and each culture consist of different customs, standards, and qualities that make them so incredibly
unique. Coming from a small town that lacked diversity, this has been a whole new experience for me.
Just in a short amount of time Ive gotten to know so many different people and learn so many new
things. The stereotypes you commonly hear about sororities are not all based on the truth, and my opinion
has definitely changed since I first decided to look into sorority life and the girls in them.
Ive officially been a college student for roughly three months and one thing I have learned in this short
amount of time, is not everything you hear has truth to it. Not everything you think you know about
someone or certain groups of people are particularly accurate. A lot of times, we being typical humans,
tend to judge; its crazy just how natural it comes. We judge groups of people based on how they act, talk,
look, sound, dress, believe, and even based on where they come from. Although judging is natural and
everyone does it, whether verbally or mentally, a lot of times we dont even think about it, we just do it.
The mind blowing aspect of this fact, is that most of the people we judge, we dont even know. This is
where stereotypes come into play. How can we judge someone without even knowing them? More than
likely weve heard something about one person, who shares one of the several qualities listed above.
Whether we realize it or not, we see, and we label. We label, and we judge, and we stereotype all based
on different cultures and life styles, not because we know facts, but simply because we dont know the
facts. We havent taken the time to get to know the people that we judge, and especially among college

The Real Sorority Life

students Ive noticed it seems easier to just assume everyone in a certain culture belongs to a certain
stereotype than to genuinely attempt to get to know them. This week I didnt just do what was easier, I
stepped out of my comfort zone, by following a certain culture; researching their history, customs and,
motivations; and then finally taking some time to sit down and talk to two different people to get their
insight on their way of life and their opinion about common stereotypes they know to not be true.
When most people hear the word sorority, they hear a variety of things, mostly negative, about
what most non-sorority members think about girls actually in sororities. Like a sorority girl from the
University of Delaware mentions in her blog on College Candy many of these stereotypes are started
and perpetuated by things such as the media or one persons experience, things that can be radically
different from what going Greek is really about.(Liz) (http://collegecandy.com/2012/01/23/the-biggestlies-about-sorority-life/). Based on a few peoples actions, a stereotype can form and sororities are
smothered with these. I will be proving a majority of these to be, for the most part, strictly stereotypes
based on what Ive discovered.
So what exactly are common stereotypes about sororities? A few include: Sorority girls pay for
their friends, nothing good comes from sororities (after college), sorority girls are known for partying and
excessive drinking, they are dumb and dont care about school, sorority girls all wear the same clothes
and all like the same things (same personalities), and hazing is a constant issue. Some of these
stereotypes were not true but it was easy to see how they originated and then some of them were just
ridiculous. (http://gcmag.org/getting-it-straight-sorority-stereotypes/)
At first I wasnt sure if any of this was true, I had never met someone in a sorority before; I had
no idea what to even expect. Sororities have never been something that I have personally thought about
doing. Mostly because of the major I am pursuing requires a lot of time, but also just because I feel I
dont relate much to that whole culture in general. Ive figured over the years of hearing many things
about sororities that they were probably true, but that was because I had no reason to think otherwise. The

The Real Sorority Life

only solid opinion I could have about sororities was based on movies or television shows, which gave me
no reliable facts. Until I began to really look for facts in order to form my own opinion.
Researching was the easy part. Finding people to interview took stepping out of my comfort zone
and asking two people to meet with me and answer a series of questions. I was able to find a sorority girl
from one of my classes, and the other was someone I had never met before but was introduced to me, by a
friend, in order to receive a second perspective. After long hours of research I felt like I nearly knew all
there was to know about sororities, their motives, and their stereotypes. But after speaking with two girls
who were actually involved in sororities, one a new member and the other an old, I realized there was so
much more than what you can just find on the internet. I didnt realize how much the outside world lacks
understanding; it was really an eye opener for me to see, that you never truly know a culture until you
explore it personally.
Through research I learned that new actions were already being put in place in order to put a stop
to some common stereotype. It turns out that there are leaders of sororities, all over the nation, trying to
prevent certain things from going on that can cause a stereotype to form or continue to be talked about.
There is actually even a law in Kentucky and 43 other states referring to the act of hazing and how it is
now illegal to display any evidence of it on a college campus. A lot of college kids probably participate or
witness hazing and dont even really know what this act consists of. Hazing Is: "Any activity expected of
someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them
regardless of a person's willingness to participate." (http://www.stophazing.org/hazing-view-studentreporting-perceptions-prevention/). According to Laryn, the sophomore sorority girl I interviewed, when
I asked what if she thought this law was enforced well on our campus or if she had ever witnessed hazing
she said, Most definitely has been banned, like this is a big deal, especially as an older girl, they tell us
that it is our job to make sure it never happens. I have personally never witnessed it, if I did, I would do
something about it. I feels its really wrong.(Laryn) Sororities are even changing their initiation
ceremonies to new member education processes to stray away from the stereotype of hazing.

The Real Sorority Life

When I asked Laryn about one of the most common stereotypes in existence when talking about
sorority girls she gave a very straight forward answer that I think really gave me a new perspective. She
gave me this answer in response to the stereotype that every sorority girl parties and drinks excessively.
Well to be honest, some of them do hold truth, but only based on a few bad behaviors. Not every
sorority girl acts out, or parties every night, just like not every average college student does either. Like I
personally am a Christian so I feel I dont live up to the stereotype of partying, I dont ever go out and no
one looks down on me for that and I still fit in perfectly, and I have lots of friends who feel the same. You
can be in a sorority and still hold good morals. And even those who do most of them have a lot
more.class than what youd see on movies and stuff. Like you have to be 21 to drink, sororities enforce
this law, and some girls go out on the weekend and some dont go out at all. Its a label that sorority girls
get based on movies and things or based on a few bad behaviors. (Laryn) She really hit every aspect and
answered every question I would have had about this specific stereotype and it really clarified. You can
be a sorority girl and still hold good morals(Laryn) really sticks out, because not everyone has good
morals, not everyone is raised the same way. Some people have less than others and being in a sorority
wont define whether you do have good morals or you dont. I like how she pointed this out, and
especially how she stated that she still fits in. This proves that stereotype wrong in my opinion, because a
stereotype would mean everyone exemplifies a certain action and I have found someone who states that
she does not and neither does other sorority girls she knows.
Another common stereotype that you often hear is that sorority girls are dumb, or dont care
about their grades. This is actually a crazy stereotype in my opinion because both of the girls I met were
very invested in their school work. They both are members of a sorority that require you to maintain a
specific GPA in order to stay a part of, and one of them, Emily, even talked about the special measures
taken to ensure they stay focused and keep their grades up. my sorority last year, it got the highest
GPA out of all the sororities. So they hold it on a standard. Actually on open house if you didnt have the
required GPA, which was a 3.0 in high school, if you didnt have that, then they didnt ask you back,

The Real Sorority Life

because thats not what they were looking for. And so that was like a known thing in the book and
everything like what GPA you needed to be in each one. Then to stay in the sorority we all have to keep a
3.2. (Emily) Grades are a big deal clearly, and this proves that all sorority girls are dumb is not true
and is actually a ridiculous opinion that someone stated maybe based on someone who didnt care about
their grades or maybe just because they didnt like someone in a sorority. Either way it is not the truth.
Both of the girls I interviewed, who are part of different sororities, both made comments on the
fact that sororities are only for rich girls. I asked how affordable it is to be in a sorority, Laryn said,
Well no sororities are free, chi omega is one of the cheaper ones thats for sure. I have seen some
ridiculously high ones. But usually you can set up a payment plan for your dues and it makes it a lot
easier, like I pay so much a month and after that it can get expensive if you miss events that are
mandatory or if you do something that is against the rules like drinking under 21, you would get
finedWell even I thought before I joined that sororities were only rich girls. Thats one of the reasons I
worried I wouldnt fit in right away because I considered my family more middle class, but I was
wrong(Laryn) and Emily replied: We have, okay I think sororities only get expensive if you like, I
dont know cause a lot of the things that you pay for, like my sorority it was like $960 per semester, a lot
of it goes towards everything like it goes towards your Monday meetings, it goes towards some events
that we do like, it goes towards our date parties, it goes towards food that we eat in the meetings and stuff.
So it all kinda has likes its place that youd be paying for anyways if you were in the sorority, but I think
it can get expensive though if you like sign up for something with this responsibility, and you bounce out
of it you pay a fine. And I think thats where it gets expensive. Its kinda like a parking ticket.(Emily)
Both of their answers talk about prices, and how you are given a payment plan to make things easier on
you. It seems like if you really want to be in a sorority you just factor in the price depending on which
one you want to be a part of and then they make it work by letting you make a payment plan. Sounds like
things are made a little more convenient than what the stereotype makes it sound and it can get expensive
but thats usually when a girl doesnt hold herself accountable to what she committed to when she joined.

The Real Sorority Life

I can see where this stereotype is coming from, but it is not completely true. Not every girl in the sorority
world is rich or holds a specific economic status. Like Laryn said, she is middle class, and she still fit in
perfectly fine. This stereotype may hold a little truth to it due to the fact that sororities can be expensive,
but that does not make every girl in one, a rich girl.
One of the biggest points Laryn, asked me to get across when writing this paper, was how big of a
role charity work plays in the sorority life. Well one thing Ive noticed people dont realize is that
community service is a huge deal. Its like an underlying purpose that people outside of sororities dont
acknowledge. Hosting events all lead back to supporting a charity or foundation and like its just all for a
good cause and if you make one point to really stand out in your presentation, Id like you to express our
love for our foundations cause most people over look that!(Laryn) You hear stereotypes referring to
sorority girls as partiers, rich and high in society, dumb, and known for the forbidden act of hazing.
Never do you hear people talking about what sorority girls do in order to help their community, or to help
specific charity groups. The two girls I interviewed in order to gain a new perspective, help me
understand which of these stereotypes were slightly untrue and which were completely out of the ball
park. Through this project I not only realized how wrong people can be about sororities, but also all kinds
of other cultures who suffer from specific stereotypes that are most of the time false and never backed up
by evidence.

The Real Sorority Life

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