Greek Life addresses unfounded rumors

Madeline Chera

The Greek Life Office was compelled to investigate rumors of misconduct, which were later determined false, during the last week of winter break, the traditional “Rush Week,” during which sororities undergo their annual recruitment process.

While returning to campus for a class-free week full of making new girlfriends, getting dressed up and being picked to become a part of a group full of tradition, loyalty and social events sounds fun, such concentrated levels of estrogen can sometimes translate to an elevated level of stress.

So much of the allure of sorority life lies in the rituals known only to its members, and with all of the secrecy, some facts are bound to get distorted, especially with the fresh potential new members, or PNMs. However, with strict rules pertaining to Sorority Recruitment Week, including who may speak with whom and in what settings, it is a serious matter when allegations are made about improper conduct.

This Recruitment season, a claim was filed stating that members of a certain sorority were seen taking PNMs out to an unsanctioned dinner by another sorority. According to John Osborne, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, “This event didn’t happen.”After careful investigation, it was determined that a PNM confused a story from a past year with the current recruitment season. The sororities named in the claim were not even the same ones involved in the original event.

This claim was resolved, but not before it snowballed into a rumor that the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life was quick to deny. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life has a set course of action to deal with these claims. Throughout Recruitment Week, recruitment counselors fill out forms for any irregular behavior or questionable incidents that they notice or that their PNMs report. At the end of the week, Osborne meets with a Pan-Hellenic Recruitment Team representing leaders from all of the sororities, and together they investigate these claims.

At the end of the week, each sorority meets with Osborne and the Recruitment Team to go over their offenses, each of which is assigned a fine ranging from $25 to $300, depending on its severity.In addition to bragging rights, a sorority that survives the week without any fines receives the fine money from all the other sororities as a reward.

While this monetary good-conduct award was won by one sorority last year, all nine chapters were fined this year. However, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, there were fewer fines overall this season than in past years. These incidents often act to reinforce stereotypes about Greek Life, which Osborne admits, “are sometimes our own darn fault.” Along with fraternity and sisterhood comes a collective responsibility for inappropriate actions.

For the sorority recruitment system that Osborne refers to as “very formal and structured,” unacceptable behavior includes accepting PNMs as Facebook friends at any time before bids go out, and any unsanctioned contact between sisters and PNMs. Recruitment counselors, chosen by a selective interview process, must be blocked out of sorority photos and maintain a neutral, Pan-Hellenic relationship with their PNMs by not revealing which chapter they belong to. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life goes to such measures in order to prevent PNMs from being misled, feeling pressured and losing any of their options.

PNMs like freshman Becky Simon of Delta Gamma think of sororities as “a really good way to get involved,” and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life promotes them as one effective way for newer college students to make a connection with others in their community. Osborne attributes the stereotypes, rumors and rivalries that inevitably arise to simple “immaturity.”

Once the excitement of being chosen to be part of exclusive sisterhood dissipates and the stress of Recruitment Week becomes a memory, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life can move on to the daily business of conferences, fundraising and meeting planning, and the new members can experience the philanthropy and fun of being a sorority girl.