Inside Column: A Greek Surprise

Marian's Musings

I’m so happy that I ‘ama’ Kappa Kappa Gamma (yes, that’s supposed to rhyme).
Saturday night, I found myself sitting on the floor of my sorority sister’s kitchen with two girls who have become my closest friends.
Between sips from a communal water glass, we discussed everything from the weather—mostly us comparing sunburns—to dysfunctional families and long-distance relationships.
The week before, I went to dinner with one of the girls and her boyfriend and she confided in me that her boyfriend had noticed a change in her behavior. He said he’d never seen her so happy in their three years together.
And that, I realized, was exactly how I felt.
I call last semester my “lost semester.” Ever the nervous freshman, I didn’t branch out and participate in many clubs or groups. I had a single room tucked away in the farthest corner of the farthest dorm. I talked to my friends from home a lot and caught up on all the seasons of “Desperate Housewives.”
Then, over winter break, my best friend from home wouldn’t stop talking about everything she did with her sorority. All the socials and cocktails and formals. She gushed about her sisters and her Greek family and, honestly, I think I got a little jealous. I wanted that kind of connection with my classmates. I wanted opportunities to wear dresses and red lipstick and to curl my hair.
But sororities are for party girls, right? That, at least, is what I was molded to think. However, when I looked into the movies and music that framed Greek life in such a negative light, I found very little.
Granted, there are some classic, well-known movies, including “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” which paints Greeks as either uptight, rich social climbers or as, well, animals.
Then there is “Sydney White.” While I’m a fan of Amanda Bynes’ goofy sense of humor, the movie paints sorority girls as overbearing, overly-competitive college “Mean Girls” fighting to be the hottest on campus. Plus, the movie incorporates a lot of high pitched squeals which, frankly, are just annoying.
Tangent aside, except for those two better-known movies, where does the Greek stigma come from? I assume most of the stereotypes are spread by popular opinion and word of mouth. This implies that there is probably some merit in the stereotypes.
And I’ll submit. There are some fraternity and sorority chapters throughout the nation that have made the news for hazing, abuse of alcohol and other issues. There are those few bad apples. But these unfortunate occurrences do not mean that all fraternities and sororities live the same lifestyles. In fact, most work diligently to prove that their priorities lie elsewhere.
This semester, there was a unique opportunity. Kappa Kappa Gamma, a nationally distinguished organization, started a new chapter on Northeastern’s campus. I did research and asked alumnae questions and ultimately ended up signing up for an interview.
I took a chance; I jumped. And I fell into the best decision I’ve made since coming to school.
Perhaps one of the greatest things Kappa has given me is an open mind. When I was able to overlook the Greek stereotypes and learn more about the organizations associated with Northeastern’s Fraternity and Sorority Life, I learned about their philanthropic efforts and the amount of time and money that the groups commit to local charities.
Kappa Sigma, for example, played a major role in the success of NU’s Relay for Life and also recently helped raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Delta Zeta hosted their “Pink Goes Green” week, advocating for and educating students about the environment. And at last week’s Nataraj performance, Delta Phi Omega represented both the Greek community and their individual cultural identity.
Yet despite the fact that fraternities and sororities across the United States and Canada contribute to their campuses as well as their local communities, the stigmas and stereotypes prevail.
When I told my brother about Kappa, his first response was that I was paying for my friends. Which, I suppose, is an interesting way to look at things. I mean, I do pay money to an organization (in semesterly dues).
But I have more than just friends. Fraternities and sororities give back to their members. And for the rest of my life, I will have a safety net and a network of other women there for me if I ever need them.
I will have numerous scrapbooks full of pictures, mementos and memories; and will likely have crafted a mental list of potential bridesmaids.
For now, I have all that as well as the friends. And no, big brother, I do not pay for those friends. But even if I did, they are well worth it.

– Marian Daniells can be reached at inside@huntington–

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