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Opinion: The good, the bad and the Greeks

The stereotypes and prejudice against Greek life has been an ongoing phenomenon for decades. Unfortunately, this point of view has come from the mishaps of different fraternities and sororities throughout history, along with the way Greek life is perceived in film and television.

Being in Greek life is admittedly a blessing and a curse, like any other organization. No matter which organization you are a part of someone, or another organization, will always have something negative to say about you. 

(Illustration by Sydney Huber/Kokopelli)

I joined the Pi Delta chapter of Chi Omega here at NMSU in the spring semester of my freshman year. I joined through Continuous Open Bidding, an informal process that sororities use to take in new members, and I’ve never had one regret since joining. It wasn’t until after I received my bid that I realized how truly judgmental people on the outside of an organization can be.  

Although Greek life here at NMSU is nothing compared to schools like the University of Alabama, people underestimate the positive impact that Greek life can have on our campus and community. They forget that sororities and fraternities were founded on the idea of bettering young adults academically and socially. 

“Still, people need to know that those stereotypes are nothing compared to what it means to thrive in Greek life.”  

I know that this is the fault of many people when they don’t take this opportunity seriously and create the stereotype of a “frat boy” or “sorority bimbo.” Still, people need to know that those stereotypes are nothing compared to what it means to thrive in Greek life.

In most fraternities and sororities, we have symphonies and creeds that remind us of our core values and morals. These symphonies and creeds are the most important because academics come first every single time. We know how important it is to be an educated woman or man in our modern day and age, especially in a world that is progressing every day. We also know how important it was for our founders, especially for the women who created our organization during a time when women had no rights. They created a space for women to thrive and to be given the same opportunities as men. That is what the founders of all sororities have done for their future generations. People are quick to forget that these organizations are based on morals, values, academics and bettering the future of society.  

Brothers of Theta Chi Gamma Nu participate in their first highway clean up in Las Cruces on March 2, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Theta Chi Gamma Nu)

Many people in Greek life agree that they are here for the better of their future, to become leaders and to make connections for their future careers, not just to party and have fun. In a one-on-one interview with Maisie O’Neill, a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, she shared her perspective on party culture in Greek life. 

“I think it’s just a lot of people think we just are here to party and like, you know, have fun,” O’Neill said. “At the same time, we’re becoming better leaders, and I’ve had so many more opportunities to grow as a leader just being in Greek life, so I think that’s really cool.”  

There are so many opportunities for women and men within and outside of their chapters, such as the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council. People in Greek life are given chances to gain experience in leadership with executive positions such as president, recruitment, Panhellenic or IFC delegates and so much more. 

Another big misconception is the reputation that chapters here on campus have. I understand that there are a few bad apples in some chapters, but one person’s actions or ideals cannot be associated with a whole group. However, with that said, many misconceptions and negative images of chapters on campus don’t come from within the organization. Most of the time, these negative connotations or reputations come from people outside of Greek life, and more commonly from the anonymous app Yik Yak.  

If you are not familiar, Yik Yak is an anonymous posting app from people in your area or school, which has been popularly used to spread false information and slander against chapters on the NMSU campus.  

Sisters of Delta Zeta Gamma Xi volunteer their time on Oct. 28, 2024 for Keep State Great, a campus clean-up initiative that NMSU students participate in annually. (Photo courtesy of Delta Zeta)

In another interview with a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, Serenity Leal, she gives an excellent example of hearing false allegations or misinformation regarding Greek life. “I know that most of the things said or posted on Yik Yak are not from people in a fraternity or sorority,” Leal said. “We all know that we have a mutual respect for one another, especially when it comes to people outside of Greek life being rude on social media.” 

Leal gave her perspective on what it means to be on the receiving end of rude comments, especially while being a part of an organization. “You don’t see other organizations getting treated this way,” Leal said. “People see Greek letters and immediately say something bad about us.”  

Despite the slander and name-calling, Greek life continues to thrive with the amazing work that we do within our chapters and for our communities. We know that our philanthropy and community service are important to the people and other organizations that we serve. Even if people choose to believe the negative stereotypes that have been building up for decades, we will continue to build our legacy for future generations to come. We are always doing our best to make our founders proud with every chance that we get.  

For people outside of Greek life who have a negative perspective, you will never know unless you try, and you can’t always judge a chapter by its stereotypes.  

Listed below is a list of sororities and fraternities with their philanthropy and their causes.  

Alpha Xi Delta: The Kindly Hearts Initiative focuses on supporting children and teenagers experiencing foster care or homelessness, and it has raised over $125,000 countrywide. Alpha Xi Delta’s chapters are encouraged to find local organizations in their community to collaborate with for service opportunities. 

Chi Omega: In 2002, Chi Omega announced its alliance with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and since then it has raised more than $35 million and 1.4 million service hours toward granting wishes for courageous kids with terminal illnesses.  

Delta Gamma: Service for Sight was started in 1936 when a blind member of Delta Gamma petitioned to adopt “Aid to the Blind” as their official philanthropy. Delta Gamma currently supports five schools that were founded by Delta Gammas who were dedicated to helping children who are blind or visually impaired. 

Delta Zeta: Delta Zeta raises money every semester for the Starkey Hearing Foundation and the American Society for Deaf Children. They have raised over $5.5 million for the foundation and have made it their mission to educate others about ASDC which allows families to work with professionals who help deaf children or those with a hearing impairment. 

Zeta Tau Alpha: Zeta Tau Alpha has been a prominent figure for universities raising money for breast cancer awareness across the country for over 25 years. According to their website, Zeta is determined to diminish the disease by educating others and spreading awareness. 

Alpha Gamma Rho: For 42 years, Cowboys for Cancer Research has been dedicated to raising money for cancer research in the state of New Mexico. Thanks to organizations such as AGR, Cowboys for Cancer Research has been able to raise over $175,000 in Las Cruces and over $2.8 million for the University of New Mexico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.  

Alpha Tau Omega: In April of 2023, Alpha Tau Omega raised $1,300 for the local Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley with the help of fellow fraternities and sororities on the NMSU campus. 

Alpha Sigma Phi: In May of 2023, Alpha Sigma Phi raised $153 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a gift to help families with treatment, travel, housing and food for the hospital’s patients.  

FarmHouse: The National Marrow Donor Program is a program that connects patients with a matching donor for a life-saving blood stem cell transplant. NMSU FarmHouse Fraternity has supported the NMDP and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as a part of their philanthropy. 

Lambda Chi Alpha: Lambda Chi Alpha supports the Movember Foundation, which is a foundation dedicated to the education and awareness of men’s physical and mental health around the world.  

Theta Chi: Theta Chi supports the United Service Organizations, a nonprofit charitable corporation that helps provide and maintain connections between service members and their families.  

Pi Kappa Alpha: In May of 2023, Pi Kappa Alpha raised money for the ACTion Programs for Animals, a progressive animal welfare organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for animals in the Doña Ana County and reduce the number of animals that are impounded and euthanized in shelters.  

Tau Kappa Epsilon: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is Tau Kappa Epsilon’s main philanthropy, but they are also partners with the Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and many more. 

Sigma Chi: Sigma Chi supports the Huntsman Cancer Foundation through a Nation Cancer Institute-designated research facility and hospital located at the University of Utah. They have accumulated $238 million in Cancer Research Investment and helped the hospital treat over 1,187 patients per day.  

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to New Mexico State University, the NMSU Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Kokopelli, or any other organization, committee, group or individual.

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