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Going Greek: positives despite negative stigmas

Last Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, was the end of Rush Week for the University of Maine’s sororities. Lots of Greek life could be seen on the University Mall and around the Memorial Union for the majority of the day as they concluded the traditions and rituals of Rush Week. According to the university website, Greek life has existed at UMaine since 1874. There are 16 fraternities and eight sororities with about 13% of undergraduates participating in Greek life. 

Despite this statistic, there still tends to be negative stigmas associated with it. Often, these correlate to somewhat serious accusations, such as the attacks on Greek life for hazing as well as transphobia and homophobia. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I know I am a little more wary of people who are part of a fraternity or sorority because there seems to be a higher possibility of them not being accepting of my sexuality or gender. While some stigmas do have some merit, there are definitely people in Greek life who are just as supportive of the community as people not participating. 

Other people say they don’t want to join a sorority or fraternity because they don’t want to have to pay for their friends, or they don’t want to be surrounded by college students who love to party a lot. 

With all of these assumptions and negative stigma around Greek life, why do so many people choose to participate? 

For some, it’s because of legacy. Maybe their parents were a part of Greek life and they want to participate as well. For others, it’s because of the opportunities these chapters provide. Certain houses focus a lot on leadership or service that have the potential to look great on a resume. 

Not all fraternities or sororities are the stereotypical frat house party or their members the stereotypical party animals. According to an article in GreekU, there are five different types of greek organizations, and every fraternity or sorority falls into one of these categories. They are: social, service, professional, honors and religion/ethics. 

Most sororities and fraternities fall under the social category, which is often the stereotypical party house. This is also where most of the negative stigmas start. However, the other four categories are often forgotten about by a lot of people not connected with Greek life. Not all of these houses are based on gender either. There are some fraternities that accept anyone who wants to join. These types of houses often don’t have as severe problems with hazing, Title IX reports or overt sexism or trans/homophobia. But because of the organizations that do, the entire system seems to get a bad reputation. 

While there are some houses that have problems that should be addressed, not all houses fall under this umbrella. This is perhaps the biggest reason people choose to go Greek. This is the easiest way to find like minded people who understand you and will help you through college. And what is college if not getting your degree and finding people you feel like you truly belong with?

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