When I tell someone that I’m in a sorority — or simply dare to wear my Greek letters around campus — I’m usually met with scrutinizing looks from my fellow students, and even faculty members, that scream, “Oh, so you’re one of those girls.”
The stereotypical girl in a sorority, as illustrated in Hollywood films, has big boobs, blonde hair and is only at college to chase after the “MRS. degree” from her fraternity counterparts.
Additionally, the general public views these fraternity men as unintelligent, trust-fund-inheriting boys who party all day and night. While I can’t speak for other chapters or communities of Greek life, I believe these deliberate misrepresentations have been spread for far too long and need to be set straight.
During recruitment my freshman year, I heard it all: “Why would you ever go Greek? I mean you have seen the movies right?” and “I never pegged you as the girl that only cared about lip gloss and hooking up with boys.” I really can’t blame these people for shelving all of Greek life under this one umbrella of bad morals and even worse decisions because it’s all they’ve seen or heard in media and news headlines.
But the sense of belonging and kinship I’ve been privileged enough to be a part of here in the Greek life community at the University of Wisconsin couldn’t prove these distortions more wrong.
Just about a month and a half ago, my chapter of Delta Gamma lost one of our own when a plane went missing over Lake Erie shortly after takeoff from an airport in Cleveland, Ohio late at night on Dec. 29, 2016.
Megan Casey, a freshman studying nursing, was one of our newest members, but also one of the happiest and most kindhearted girls in our chapter. She was able to brighten up a room just by walking in, and had a contagious smile that never left her face. While our chapter has been mourning her loss, fraternity and sorority chapters across the country, from California to Maine to Florida to Montana, have sent their deepest condolences to her family and the members of our chapter for the loss of one of our own.
Further, on Feb. 13 we held a memorial and celebration for Megan’s incredible life that was cut far too short. We invited anyone and everyone who knew her, or simply wanted to celebrate her life with our chapter, to this open house. But what we were met with was something we never expected.
Over a thousand of our fellow Greek life members, and even non-Greek UW students, came to the service to support us and remember Megan. It was a show of support to the likes of which we had never seen before as our Greek community showed just how much we care for and support each other. Many of the members of our chapter were moved to tears by this display of support and our fellow Greeks were there to be a shoulder for to cry on.
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But, once again, I ask how can the media completely miss this side of Greek life?
While the parties are still an aspect of Greek life today, the media and Hollywood manipulate the truth to show the most extreme situations — that rarely happen in real life — as though they were an everyday occurrence, simply because drama and drunken debauchery sells better than a story of a community coming together in support of the loss of one of their own.
But I am here to tell you this story of community and camaraderie is what we should be spreading when we tell our friends, family and children about Greek life. Not the blatant and disrespectful stories about money, booze and having a good time Hollywood and news outlets use to make a quick buck.
Jenna Webster ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.