Student Life

Jaipuriar: #SororityRevamp viral video should encourage moment of reflection

Going through Greek recruitment is a bit like wearing the Hogwarts sorting hat. “Try me on and I will tell you where you ought to be.” Like Hogwarts students, potential new members must trust the system and wait for a decision that may determine the rest of their campus experience.

The two-week Panhellenic recruitment, which ended on Sunday, was fun, intriguing and for many young women, it reaffirmed their desire to be a part of the Greek community. Full disclosure: I also went through recruitment and am an excited new member of Greek life.

But as much as the positive values of sororities are promoted, for some individuals, the Greek experience doesn’t come with a happy ending.

Syracuse University senior Alex Purdy recently created “Why I left my sorority,” a video criticizing her experience with Greek life and calling for #SororityRevamp. In her video, which has acquired more than 20,000 views since it was posted last week, Purdy condemns the superficial behavior she says she observed: not wanting any “FUPAs” in the house, being told to dress “sluttier” for the next formal and hearing the suggestion to put a weight loss supplement in a sister’s gift basket.

Her time in an on-campus sorority was not the sisterhood and sense of belonging she had signed up for, Purdy said in the video. She emphasized that her problem with Greek life isn’t about one specific chapter or the partying culture, which is prominent on college campuses anyway. Instead, she says that “the problem is the overwhelming lack of compassion for one another.”

Speaking out against such a celebrated institution — and possibly some of her friends — was probably out of the ordinary and a little risky, but Purdy’s decision to leave a place where she was unhappy and use her voice to inspire change is admirable. It reminds us that sororities should first and foremost be about sisterhood and genuine connections — ideals that can be forgotten if we become too focused on the social or shallow aspects.

Panhellenic Council President Tristan Ruzic declined to comment on Purdy’s video; however, she emphasized the amazing things Greek life has to offer. “One person’s experience does not define a chapter or community,” Ruzic said in an email to The Daily Orange.

The reality is that Greek life is much more diverse than the movies portray. Every girl isn’t a carbon copy of Elle Woods and one sorority isn’t the duplicate of another. And the sense of community isn’t just a label.

According to a 2014 Gallup-Purdue University study of 30,000 college graduates, fraternity and sorority members are more likely to thrive in well-being. For instance, 52 percent had a strong sense of community, defined as “the sense of engagement you have with the areas where you live … having pride in your community,” compared to the 46 percent of individuals not in Greek life.

There are numerous happy endings in the stories of young women who chose to join a sorority. And while we should celebrate those positive Greek experiences, Purdy’s own story should not be discounted or invalidated. The toughest part about being in any community is wanting to belong, but also wanting to remain an individual. Speaking out requires courage, and it’s important to remember that every voice counts, even if the message is uncomfortable or unpopular.

Greek life can be a genuine and life-changing bond, and should not be attacked or considered frivolous simply based on negative stereotypes. Purdy went through the process of recruitment, gave it a chance and used it as a learning experience. This is much more productive and intelligent than the people who bash on the Greek experience as “buying friends,” without even trying it.

As Purdy says in her video, “it’s built on such good intentions” and hopefully her experience is an “outlier.”

Experience is always the best way to understand something more deeply, and hopefully Purdy’s story will be a lesson to improve Greek life. The recruitment process showed me that Greek life is about meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zone, but, of course, like anything, there are some negative aspects. It’s terrible to see girls crushed because they didn’t get invited back to certain chapters. It’s heartbreaking to see these beautiful, intelligent, strong young women questioning their self-worth based on the recruitment process.

Rejection blues, jealousy and resentment have been overwhelmingly obvious in the past few weeks. It’s an unintended and unfortunate consequence of an otherwise unique and eye-opening process. Feeling a sense of community with a group of girls, who were strangers two weeks ago, is as strange as it is surreal.

At the end of the day, potential sorority and fraternity members shouldn’t blindly place Greek life on a pedestal, nor should they be deterred by Purdy’s video. However, Greek or not, stay true to yourself, know your self-worth and as Purdy said, choose “to act with love in your heart and compassion toward friends and strangers.”

Rashika Jaipuriar is a freshman broadcast and digital journalism major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at rjaipuri@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @rashikajpr.

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