If you guys go on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen those powerful “I Am Not A Stereotype” photo projects of ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities standing up to the stereotypes they face every day.
If you guys go on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve also probably seen photo projects inspired by those above- but instead of featuring minorities and people regularly impacted by discrimination, they feature college girls wearing Greek letters across their chests.
Everyone knows the stereotypes surrounding Greek students- spoiled, entitled, dumb, wild, etc. Everyone also knows at least one BΓΘ who complains, blogs, and posts about how unfair it is that other students get to judge them because of the letters they wear. The general idea they try to convey is that wearing those letters is a bold move because it leaves them vulnerable to scrutiny by their peers and “marginalized.” (L O L)
As someone who belongs to a panhellenic sorority (surprise), I can definitely agree that being unfairly stereotyped is shitty, but I know that the opinion of Greg From Biology, who eats Pop Tarts for dinner and hasn’t done his laundry in 7 weeks, doesn’t really matter at the end of the day (or at the end of four years). I also know that being Greek and thus “judged” all the time doesn’t stop Greek students from dominating Student Government, Homecoming Court, and leadership positions in student organizations (aka, being extremely privileged [just google “University of Alabama Machine” if you need clarification]).
The problem with this odd trend among Greeks is that it minimizes the real struggles faced by the people featured in the original project. Greek life is a choice, and with that choice comes the obvious risk of being judged by the people you go to school with. Being gay, black, or a woman, however, is not a choice, and the stereotypes that come with that have consequences lasting much longer than the four years you’re in school.
Being called dumb and spoiled because you belong to ΒΛΣ is not the same as being stopped at security checkpoints because you’re practicing your religion by wearing a hijab. It’s not the same as being rejected by employers because your parents named you Tyrese instead of Tyler. It’s not the same as being stopped by police because you “look like you could be illegal.”
Stereotypes, despite being largely incorrect, have serious consequences on the lives of those to which they are assigned. Being a minority of any kind (racially, sexually, religiously, etc.) leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of oppression and injustice- from being stopped and frisked because you “look like a thug” or not being taken seriously as a politician because you’re a woman.
I urge my fellow Greek students to understand that despite the shitty things other students have to say about us, we are in a position of privilege, not only by being Greek but by being in college in the first place, and should recognize that privilege and use it to combat real, stereotype- induced injustices in our communities.
La Nouvelle Romantique